Tri-City Ledger -

By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

Stanton sign now preserved by Alger Sullivan

 

June 11, 2020



The Alger-Sullivan Historical Society's (ASHS) gazebo in Century now houses a sign that reads, 'Kayo Stanton Stadium', thanks to a donation from Pensacola State College (PSC). The sign used to hang on the press box at the closed Century High School stadium, now the PSC Century campus, for the last 30 years.

“Heeeeerrree come the Black Cats!”, were the words spoken by Century's public announcer, Vivian Earl “Kayo” Stanton, Jr., that kicked off a football game. Many alumni and locals who attended games there claim the words still echo in their hearts forty years later.

“That was the greatest feeling in the world, to stand at that west gate and wait to hear those words before you ran out on the field,” said Toney Simpson, ASHS member and 1976 Century High School graduate. Simpson, a member of the Century Lions, said the Lions built the gazebo where the sign hangs. “We would come out the gate and run through a tunnel all the way to mid-field,” said Simpson. “A lot of Black Cats I've talked to have said that's one of their fondest memories, hearing those words.”

Born in 1929, 'Kayo' Stanton worked at his family's owned and operated stores in Canoe, Wawbeek, Pollard, Bluff Springs and Century to name a few. The stores were successful for years and Stanton himself later became a third-generation business owner, eventually owning an appliance store in Pensacola.

“His daddy used to give away a $25 sack of groceries,” said ASHS President Jerry Fischer. “Usually, whoever wasn't working at that time in the Century community won the groceries. It always seemed to work that way.”

Only few people, namely family, know how Stanton earned the nickname, 'Kayo,' as a kid. It's said that he only missed one Century High School football game in 40 years. According to local history, he was the school's public address announcer for many years and hosted a local radio sports show. He eventually became known as 'The Voice of the Black Cats'.

A Century High School graduate himself, the school's stadium was named in his honor in 1990, a year before Stanton lost this battle with cancer. The sign that bore his name was made and placed on the press box, where it stood until recently.

The sign was donated to the ASHS by PSC following a request from President Jerry Fischer. Fischer had contacted personnel working with a grant the town had received that involved clean-up of the PSC property. S and S Construction in Jay, Fla. was involved in the work and provided the equipment to remove the sign so it could be preserved.

“Kayo was one of charter members of the Alger Sullivan Historical Society,” said Fischer. “Kayo was always interested in Century. He loved Century. He would do anything. You could go to him today and ask him for a donation. Kayo woulds always give it to you. He never turned anybody down.”

The bottom right corner of the sign has some general information about Stanton's life. The last sentence reads: Engraved on his grave stone at Ray's Chapel Cemetery is his signature game welcome, 'Heerrree Come the Black Cats'.

The Leach House Museum and surrounding buildings full of displays offer a rich history of the town of Century. There are many collections of items, pictures and various memorabilia, including donations made by prominent families and others in the past, that tell the stories about the town's history and the people who helped establish the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society and district.

 
 

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