Family Celebrates Fourth Generation At CentralPosted by Josh Flory on 8/27/2018
At 102 years of age, it’s been a long time since Chloe Ault Harrington attended Central High School.
But Central’s oldest living alumnus has a new connection to her alma mater.
Harrington’s great-granddaughter, Charley Rose Bible, started as a freshman at Central this month, marking the fourth generation of her family to attend the school.
At a time when many families become scattered from one generation to the next, the Harrington-Bible lineage in the Fountain City community is all the more striking. And their ties to Central may not be over.
“I’m excited to see what the future holds,” Charley Rose Bible said. “Because I really hope that maybe my kids one day will go there, too, and be fifth-generation Central graduates.”
Harrington was born in 1916, during the Woodrow Wilson administration, and attended Central during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
And while the centenarian is not as mobile as she used to be, her quick wit and sense of mischief were on full display during a recent conversation.
Asked about her favorite high school classes, Harrington replied with a chuckle, “Well, frankly I didn’t much like any of them.”
She was a student during the reign of famed longtime principal Hassie Kate Gresham, at a time when classes were held in the building that is now Gresham Middle School.
Harrington recalled Gresham as a good, strict administrator with a “brilliant” knowledge of Shakespeare. But she also remembered one run-in with the principal, which occurred after Harrington and some friends attended a meeting at a local church and were a little too noisy.
The next morning, the principal summoned Harrington from her English class to discuss the incident. When Harrington wouldn’t give up the names of her friends who were involved, Gresham threatened to call her mother.
“I said, ‘Yes, ma’am,’” Harrington recalled. “We didn’t have a telephone, so I knew I was safe.”
Some of the controversies that afflicted 1930s-era students will be familiar to their modern counterparts. Harrington cited the dress code, which called for girls to wear silk hose rather than socks, and was not universally popular.
“Well, when we got out of school, the next two or three years (Gresham) relaxed and let everybody wear socks and everything. But while we were there, she didn’t.”
A night out often consisted of walking and talking with her friends, including one Fourth of July when she and a friend visited the new Andrew Johnson Hotel on Gay Street, which is now home to Knox County Schools.
They only had six cents each, so they walked downtown to the hotel, took the stairs all the way to the top of the building, then used their money to catch a ride back home. “Isn’t that silly, little old girls,” she added.
She graduated in 1935, and later married T.R. Harrington, Jr., the founder of Harrington Insurance Agency. Her four sons went on to attend Central, including Charles Harrington, the father of Amy Harrington Bible, and the grandfather of Charley Rose Bible.
Amy married Allan Bible -- both were in Central’s Class of 1989 -- and the Bible side of the family also has strong ties to the school. Amy’s father-in-law, Alvah Bible, was a football and track coach at Central, while her mother-in-law, Cheryl, taught Spanish.
Charley Rose said that when she goes out with her grandparents on the Bible side, it’s not uncommon for former students to recognize them and start a conversation. She said it’s interesting to know that her relatives walked through some of the same hallways she now uses, adding that “I’m just looking forward to all the memories and friends I’m going to make.”
The freshman is hoping to pursue a career in dermatology, but for now her favorite part of high school is marching band, where she plays the second bass drum.
And while some of her friends may be unfamiliar with her family ties to Central, there are clues hidden in plain sight. In 2014, Chloe Harrington was inducted into the Central Wall of Fame, based on her long career as an artist, and a plaque commemorating that honor still hangs in a hallway near the library. One of Harrington’s paintings is also on display in the school office.
Charley Rose said that during her first week at Central, she stopped with a friend to admire the plaque, although she rarely sees the painting in the office.
“She behaves herself, she doesn’t have to go to the office,” Harrington joked. “She didn’t do what her (great-)grandmother did.”