According to Novalyne Price Ellis’s introduction to Report on a Writing Man, she moved to Brownwood when she was in the 7th grade. By the time she was a freshman in high school (which was the 8th grade back then, high schools only running to the 11th, or “senior” year), she was already winning awards. The April 10, 1922 Brownwood Bulletin reports that “Miss Novaline Price of the Brownwood High School won in the declamation contest” put on by the interscholastic league.
In the 1923 Brownwood city directory, “Novalene Price” is listed as a student at Daniel Baker College. She was also a sophomore at Brownwood High School that year, simultaneously taking classes in Daniel Baker’s “Oratory” department. She did well enough there to take part in a “Fine Arts recital” held on March 5, 1923. The Brownwood Bulletin reported on the 10th that the “program displayed the work being done in the Piano, Voice and Expression Departments.”
Price continued this “moonlighting” for three years; she is listed in the college’s registration lists, under the name “Novalene Price,” as an Oratory student for the 1922-23, 1923-24, and 1924-25 school years. At the end of the 1924 year, she took part in the commencement program. According to the Brownwood Bulletin for June 3, 1924, the “school of expression” offered several readings, including “Novalene Price in a poetical reading, ‘The River of Stars’ by Noyes. This last was done in Indian costume with special lighting effects and was a delightful number.”
After graduating from Brownwood High in May of 1925, Price enrolled full time at Daniel Baker. She had a long history there.
The catalogue for the 1925-26 school year appears to be misplaced, but the yearbook for that year, The Trail, shows how enthusiastic Miss Price (above) was to be a full-time college student. Listed as a freshman, Price was a member of the Coggin Literary Society and the Home Economics Club, as well as secretary for the Footlight Players (a drama club). Tevis Clyde Smith was also a freshman at Daniel Baker that year.
The following year, 1926-27, Price became the president of the drama club, and, at the end of the year, received her diploma in Oratory (below). But she had her sights set on the Literary degree as well, so she’s back for the 1928-29, 1930-31, 1932-33 years and receives her degree in May of ’33.
Despite having two diplomas, she’s listed again in the 1934-35 registration lists. She taught full time in Cross Plains that year, so the listing is probably for a summer course taken in 1934 before starting work. Miss Price taught in Cross Plains for two years, dating a certain local writer, then went to Louisiana State during that fateful summer of 1936. She returned later and taught at Baird High School during 1937 and ’38 where she took her students to Waco for various performances and awards.
At some point before the summer of 1945, she married and became Novalyne Price Robarts, and that is how she is listed for the summer 1945 session at Daniel Baker, where she turns up as an instructor of Home Economics. Finally, the last item I’ve turned up comes from the 1946-47 school year, where it appears that her first marriage didn’t last too long as she is listed as Novalyne Price Ellis and is pictured in the Daniel Baker yearbook as the director of the “Varsity Players” and a teacher of Speech.
Visitors to the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom, located on the former grounds of Daniel Baker, can view a “walk of fame” type monument that includes Miss Ellis.