Bisonalities, Again

A quarterly Newsletter dedicated to the Alumni of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools

January 2005 ---------------------------------------- Winter ------------------------------------- Volume 6 - Number 2

Welcome to the winter issue of the Newsletter dedicated to the alumni (students, teachers, and administrators) of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools. This newsletter will be issued quarterly. New issues will be posted for viewing on the Web site on, or about, October 5, January 5, April 5, and July 5.

The Web site may be viewed by going to:

The success of this newsletter will depend on you. I need contributors. Do you have an interesting article, a nostalgia item, a real life story, or a picture you would like to share with other alumni? Do you have a snail-mail or an e-mail address of one of your classmates? Send it to me at the following e-mail address:

or at my snail-mail address.

Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
Tel: (301) 283-6549

Please, NO handwritten submissions.

The Bisonalities, Again Newsletter is available to any and all alumni, teachers, and administrators of Waterford or FLBHS on the Web site, free. If you know an alumnus, teacher, or administrator who would be interested, please ask them to contact me.

None of the material in this newsletter has a copyright. If you wish to make copies of this newsletter and distribute it to other Alumni or friends, please feel free to do so.

Cat's Corner

Well, here it is, two weeks into winter. We, here in Southern Maryland, didn't have much of a summer. Our normal summer consists of an average of 25 days with a temperature of over 90 degrees, five days over 100 degrees, and days on end without rain. This summer we only had nine days when it got over 90 and no days where it reached 100. Two of the 90 degree days were in March. It usually rains so little that during the months of July and August I only have to trim and mow the yard every two weeks. This year, I was mowing and trimming every five days, because it rained at least two out of every five days.

So now winter has arrived and we are getting summer weather. Here it is just a few days after Christmas and we have had four days where the temperature got up close to 70. I am sure we are going to pay for it. Our big months for snow are usually January and February, so we probably will see more snow than we would like to.

If "global warming" keeps up, we may never see another bad winter!

At approximately 5:30 p.m., December 17, Nancy and I had the pleasure of watching Mrs. Bette Davis be inducted into the Fort LeBoeuf Wall of Fame. Even though Nancy and I had not been back to the Waterford area during the Winter months for the 42 years we have lived in the Washington Metro area, there was no way we were going to miss this event.

As a teacher and cheerleader coach, Mrs. Davis, was very deserving of this award and in the words of her daughter, Judy, "The honor could not be bestowed upon a better or more deserving person. She gave so much love, time, and energy to everybody. She certainly "set the example" of whom we most admired. She is certainly "one in a million."

Congratulations, Ma Davis, from all of us!

In addition to Mrs. Davis, there were four other alumni who were inducted into the Wall of Fame.

Art Steves was the MC for the evening and did an outstanding job. A fabulous time was had by all who attended.

After the ceremony was over, Walley Mahle hosted a celebration at his house for Mrs. Davis and the other inductees.

All five of the inductees are shown below.

Inductees into the FLBHS Wall of Fame, 2004

Front Row:  Robert Terrill-Class of 1960 Mrs. Bette Davis-Teacher Extraordinare

Back Row:  Craig Mitchell-Class of 1963 Rodney Smith-Class of 1977 Randy Whittelsey-Class of 1970

My visit with a teacher
by Elizabeth Faulhaber Demmery-Potter

I just thought I would share a nice visit with a former one-room country schoolhouse teacher!

Eleanore Lane was just 15, or so, when WW II broke out.

The military draft was in place at that time, and men made up the majority of teachers. Needless to say, teachers were in short supply on the home front.

"Miss Lane" had one year of college. Her students in Bagdad School (located midway betweenShape School and the village of Waterford, PA) were her age and younger.

I remember vividly her coming to school in her Father's 1938 Chevrolet 4-door sedan. (I recall that car very well as I helped my Dad hold a calf in the back seat.) It had the aroma of newborn calves. It may well have been the only transportation that family had. Sufficed going to school, church, and all errands in between. Now that I think back, those old Mohair seats must have been a challenge for Mr. & Mrs. Lane to keep clean.

Such a selection of students she taught. No kindergarten, just a few in each grade, 1 through 8.

I began school in a Catholic School in Pittsburgh, PA. We started each day on our knees in prayer.

I can still feel the stares of others my first day at Bagdad. From huge playgrounds, indoor toilets, water fountains, etc, to a tremendous change. We all had chores, such as carrying water, wood for the stove, etc. There were outhouses and just a field to play in, but I loved it.

We presented a Christmas play and party for all the parents. Such an exciting night for me! Miss Lane allowed me to use my favorite doll as the Christ Child, and I posed as the Virgin Mary.

Folks were poor, but we did not notice.

A girl named Geraldine gave me a gift of a 1/2 used perfume bottle, a tiny ring that turned green, even before it was on my finger, all wrapped in newspaper.

There were Foster kids, a brother and sister. I believe a family by the name of Terrel took them in. I recall their lunches being made from the most beautiful home made bread. Looked like a huge mushroom, sliced.

One kid, Tom was a terror! Each morning on the way to school, he would find something stinky to get into. I recall leeks . . . skunk . . . manure . . . anything to make himself smell so awful that Miss Lane would send him home. He never came back that day . . . wonder if he ever made it through school. A mystery where life has taken former classmates.

One gal, Mary Sipple, so pretty, was transferred to the Albion area . . . such a wonderful surprise to see her in my husband's year book.

"Box Socials" were a big thrill, too. Women would pack their cooking achievements in a box, cover it all with pretty paper, and the men would 'bid,' as in an auction, then sit and share that dinner with the lady that prepared it! I suppose the money collected was used for Christmas candy for us children . . . or whatever.

I do not think PTA was 'invented' yet! Ha! Ha!

Kids got scattered in those days . . . the sad truth is that they still do.

Well, back to my special moment! Recently on a trip 'home' my sister Loraine and I visited my very favorite teacher, Miss Lane. She is a Grandmother now, raised a wonderful family, and is now known as Mrs. Eleanore Gabor.

She and her husband live in a huge brick home where Marther's once lived. I remember, Jim Marther rode a huge white horse in the dark of night. Mable Marther was a laugh a minute, always so happy, and they had another brother that I cannot name.

How we wandered those woods and paths back in those days, no fear of anything but 'Quick Sand,' that we had overheard some chat about! Now that countryside is cluttered with homes. How things change. Life goes on . . . God is good!

Old time radio
by Herb Walden - Class of 1956

I feel sorry for folks under 60 years of age. You know why? Because they missed out on radio. Old time radio. Radio like it was, not like it is.

Back in the forties when I was an avid listener, the variety of programs on the air were of the same nature as those on TV today. There were cop shows and quiz shows, soap operas and dramas. Of most interest to me were the comedy shows - - - sit-coms and comedy/variety.

Of all the sit-coms (a term that hadn't been invented yet), "Fibber McGee and Molly" was probably my favorite - - - Tuesday nights at 9 o'clock, as I recall. The comedy came mostly from verbal exchanges with visitors who would drop in on the McGees at 79 Wistful Vista: Wallace Wimple, Mayor LaTrivia, and Doc Gamble, to name a few. A "running gag", (something that happened every week) was Fibber's hall closet. He would absent-mindedly open the door and what sounded like tons of stuff would come crashing out. I have a closet like that. I've kept it that way all these years as sort of a memorial to Fibber McGee. At least, that's my excuse.

The McGee show was sponsored by Johnson's Wax. Yes, there were commercials, but unlike TV, only one sponsor per program. And each program had an announcer who introduced the show and did the commercials. I may be the only person east of the Mississippi who remembers Fibber McGee's announcer's name. You don't, do you?

Other popular sit-coms were "Amos 'n' Andy", (which was always funny), "Burns and Allen", (which was sort of funny), and "Lum and Abner", (which wasn't particularly funny). Of course, I was just a little grade school kid and may not have understood the humor.

My favorite comedy/variety shows were Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Red Skelton.

Bob Hope's radio show was much like his later TV shows - - - a monologue followed by comedy sketches with a guest start and his sidekick, Jerry Colonna. About the middle of the show, comedy took a break for a song from Frances Langford.

Jack Benny followed a similar format, except that he had a "boy singer", Dennis Day. Jack's wife, Mary Livingstone, was a part of the comedy ensemble along with "Rochester", (Eddie Anderson), announcer Don Wilson, and orchestra leader Phil Harris.

Fred Allen's comedy was mostly topical humor. Unlike Fibber McGee, who stayed at home while the other comics came to him, Fred went to them, wandering down "Allen's Alley" and visiting with the various inhabitants: Titus Moody, Mrs, Mussbaum, and Senator Claghorn. Portland Hoffa, Fred's wife, traded quips with him, too.

Red Skelton's show was the same on radio as it was on TV, minus the "sight gags". All his characters, (Willie Lump Lump, Clem Kadiddlehopper, and others), were as funny to listen to as they were to watch in later years.

As I think about old time radio in my advancing years, one program stands out as something of a phenomenon. It didn't seem at all odd at the time, though. The show was "The Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy".

Edgar Bergen was a ventriloquist, (and also Candance Bergen's father). Charlie McCarthy was his dummy. It was one of the most popular shows ever. But when you think about it --- a ventriloquist on radio --- it almost doesn't make sense. It's akin to doing card tricks on the radio! By the way, I always thought Charlie's "country cousin", Mortimer Snerd, was the funniest one on the program.

Talk shows weren't too big on radio. "Arthur Godfrey Time", a daily morning program, was sort of a talk show, as was Don McNeill's "Breakfast Club". But they were nothing like Leno or Letterman.

Radio also featured music shows that are just plain absent from TV. There was the "Fitch Bandwagon", "Phil Spitallany and his All-Girl Orchestra", "Guy Lumbardo and the Royal Canadians", and everyone's favorite, "Your Hit Parade" at 9 o'clock every Saturday night.

Late on Saturday nights, we always tuned to the "WLS National Barn Dance" from Chicago and the "Grand Ole Opry" from Nashville. Sometimes when the weather was right, we could pick up the "Louisiana Hayride" from, uh, well, Louisiana. Saturday night just wasn't Saturday night without country music.

"The Kraft Music Hall" was a "must listen" show. It starred Bing Crosby and featured a guest star each week. Bing's orchestra leader was John Scott Trotter, and his announcer was Ken Carpenter.

There were talent shows, too. "Talent Scouts" was hosted by Arthur Godfrey and sponsored by Lipton, (tea and soup). Orchestra leader Horace Heidt also had a talent show, one of his biggest winners being accordionist Dick Contino. Of course, the grand-daddy of them all was "The Original Amateur Hour", first hosted by Major Bowes and later by Ted Mack.

Of all the quiz shows, the one we listened to regularly was the precursor to TV's "Millionaire". It was called "Take It or Leave It", and if a contestant went all the way, he could win 64 dollars! (Hence the expression, "The 64-Dollar Question"). If that doesn't illustrate inflation, I don't know what does. The quizmaster was Phil Baker.

There was a comedy/quiz show, too: "Truth or Consequences" with Ralph Edwards. The questions were pretty much impossible to answer, and the contestant ended up paying the consequences --- some silly thing he or she had to do.

This was a very popular program in its day. So popular, in fact, that a town in New Mexico changed its name to "Truth or Consequences".

There were kid programs that came on between school dismissal and suppertime; shows like "Sky King", "The Green Hornet", and (my favorite) "The Challenge of the Yukon", among others. "The Lone Ranger" waited until after supper and came on at 7:30.

"The Challenge of the Yukon" featured Sergeant Preston, of the Northwest Mounted Police, and his wonder dog, Yukon King, "in their relentless pursuit of lawbreakers!"

There were news programs: Gabriel Heatter did world news, Jimmy Fiddler did celebrity gossip and Walter Winchell did a little of everything. Winchell always opened with, "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea!" And he always sounded angry!

Most radio programs opened with an introduction from the announcer and a theme song. The theme songs became so familiar that they actually identified the program. For instance:

"Thanks for the Memory" -- Bob Hope

"Love in Bloom" -- Jack Benny

"Love Nest" -- Burns and Allen

"Seems Like Old Times" -- Arthur Godfrey

"When the Blue of the Night" -- Bing Crosby

"William Tell Overture" -- Lone Ranger

Writing about radio is difficult because there is so much to say and so many programs to tell about; such as "People are funny", "The Lux Radio Theatre", "Perry Mason", "Ozzie and Harriet", "Gangbusters", "Henry Aldrich", "Inner Sanctum", and the list goes on and on.

But perhaps the little I've written here stirred some of your own radio memories, and if it has that's good. And for the younger folks, maybe you'll have a little insight into our world of radio.

In radio production, there were no sets, no scenery, and no costumes. The actors huddled around a microphone or two and read their scripts. Nearby, sound effects men gathered around another mike and fired guns, slammed doors, or maybe just walked to provide an "audible illusion". There were no pictures for us to look at, just the ones in our imaginations. And in a way, it was so much better!

Oh! I almost forgot! Fibber McGee's announcer! His name was Harlow Wilcox.

It's that kind of thing that has earned me a reputation as a virtual storehouse of useless information. And I must say, with all humility I can spare, deservedly so!

The only "F" I ever got in school!
Marjorie Sharpe Gibson - Class of 1955

Good grades were mandatory at our house when I was growing up. My dad, Adrian Sharpe, being President of the School Board, and my mother, Lydia Sharpe, being a teacher, as well as the expectations of my parents, bad grades just weren't to be brought home without a reasonable explanation.

In 1951, as a Freshman in High School, Home Ec. was mandatory. I felt good about it, although my aspirations didn't include homemaking skills. You see, by that year I had been in 4H for four years and had not only cooked but sewn and had my handiwork displayed at the Waterford Fair.

That first semester was devoted to sewing. What a shock I got when my first report card displayed an "F"! I was so humiliated and disgraced by that "F".

Mrs. Davis had given me that grade, not because of my work, but because I wasn't following her specific directions. Because of my prior experience at 4H I was accustomed to basting with pins and taking short cuts that she didn't allow. Consequently, that dreaded "F".

It did teach me a lesson but Mrs. Davis, if you're reading this, I still sew and I still take short cuts!

How True It Is

Another year has passed
and we're all a little older.
Last summer felt hotter
and winter seems much colder.

There was a time not long ago
when life was quite a blast.
Now I fully understand
about "Living in the Past."

We used to go to weddings,
football games and lunches.
Now we go to funeral homes,
and after-funeral brunches.

We used to have hangovers,
from parties that were gay.
Now we suffer body aches
and while the night away.

We used to go out dining,
and couldn't get our fill.
Now we ask for doggie bags,
come home and take a pill.

We used to often travel
to places near and far.
Now we get sore asses
from riding in the car.

We used to go to nightclubs
and drink a little booze.
Now we stay home at night
and watch the evening news.

That, my friend is how life is
and now my tale is told.
So, enjoy each day and live it up . . .
before you're too damned old!

Enjoy and be safe!

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