A quarterly Newsletter dedicated to the Alumni of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools
April 2006 --------------------------------------- Spring ------------------------------------ Volume 7 - Number 3
Welcome to the spring issue of the Newsletter dedicated to the alumni (students, teachers, and administrators) of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf Senior 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.
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.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Letters to the Editor
Did you miss me those three days
My three "first" bicycles
I have started something new. If you are reading this newsletter on-line and would like a printable version of it, I now have the capability to turn the newsletter into a PDF file. That is, a file that can be read and displayed by the FREE Adobe File Reader. This will allow you to print it exactly as if you had received the newsletter by snail-mail. If you would like a PDF copy of the newsletter, please send me an e-mail message and I will e-mail the PDF file to you. My e-mail address for this service is: email@example.com.
Well, spring is slowly returning to Southern Maryland. I have seen dozens of fat robins hunting worms in my front lawn and the one really sure sign of spring; I have already had to mow my lawn. The daffodils and jonquils are already in full bloom as well as the dog wood trees. In early March, while Nancy and I were traveling through the Blue Ridge Mountains, we saw a large gaggle of (well over a 100) Canadian geese headed back north.
Nancy is doing great. The cast is off her right wrist. She has about 50 percent use of her wrist and thumb. She is now able to drive for the first time in almost a year. Her car has pretty much sat on the carport during the last year. We used it for long trips and occasionally a short trip to the store to make sure the battery is charged and it is running okay.
We took time out of our normal retirement activities and decided to head to Florida for two weeks of sun and fun. While down in Florida we stopped and had lunch with Merle (Class of 57) and Connie (class of 58) Wilmire and Dell and Bobbie Shields (class of 54) who were RVing together near Sumterville, FL. We then had dinner with Steve (class of 56) and Susan Graham and later had both lunch and dinner with Buck (class of 1959) and Bonnie Davis. On our way down to the Keys, we stopped in and visited with Lillian Barnes (class of 1956) for a couple hours.
The reunion committee for the class of 1956 is hard at work planning our 50th class reunion. It will be held on Thursday, the 20th of July at the American Legion in Waterford. We are hoping, and planning, for a large turnout. Those who do attend will receive a CD with the top 13 hits from both 1955 and 1956.
In this issue is a story from Joe Leech, class of 1956. This is the first in a series that Joe has volunteered to write for the newsletter.
You will note, starting with this issue, that I am using pictures of the authors of each article. In Joe's case, I have a fairly recent picture of him; in Herb and Elizabeth's case, all I have are old year book pictures . . . so, if you send me an article, PLEASE include a recent photograph of yourself. If all I have is a picture from the year book, I will use that one but if I am unable to find a picture of you, I just might use a picture of "Gravel Gertie" as your picture.
The one-liners between stories were furnished by Nancy Prososki Austin, class of 1955.
Idiots in the neighborhood: We recently had a new neighbor call the township administrative office asking them to remove a "deer crossing" sign from the road by his house. He said too many deer were getting hit by cars and he did not want them to cross at that spot anymore. This one is from Kingman, Kansas.
Letters to the Editor
Get me started and you'll have a hard time turning it off. I don't want to be a whole issue and as you see in the attached story . . . maybe this can be a seed story with others writing in. I was thinking of another one, "The Class of 56 from a 'Townies' Perspective." There were probably about six or seven of us (guys) (a minority) who lived in town; Bill Canfield, Jim McDowell, Herb Walden, Wayne Falk, Fred Bailie, Jim Fox, and myself, that I remember without going to the yearbook. I'm not sure who all the girls were . . . Phyllis Doolittle (any stories from her and her dad's store?), Pat Weaver, as I mention below, "Babe" Owens, just to name a few. That could add a nice slant mixed in with memories of renting rowboats and canoes and fun swimming at Lake LeBoeuf. A whole lot of other things, too.
I suggest that someone might want to write Teacher and Faculty Tributes. I'm sure some of the Ag guys must have some real endearing stories about Bowman ? ? ?
How about Farm Show trips to Harrisburg? I don't recall reading anything about that. Here's another one: It wouldn't be "PC" today . . . but some of us actually have been in a Minstrel Show! Tar and Feathers to Ted Reed if he was alive and tried it today!
Another possibility: Hobby and extra-circular activities such as Cheerleading.
Skating anyone? Besides myself, I know Joni Markham used to spend many evenings at the rink. I got inspired there to learn to play organ. Fred Bailie was a master on the eight wheels as I recall . . . graceful, smooth . . . What does he remember?
Feel free to put some of the ideas out there . . . and these are just the legit ones. Try to get Pat Weaver Taha to open her memory drawer and write stories and you'll have a script for a winning TV reality or soap opera show! And she's not the only one that comes to mind! I bet there's a million stories from others who were not neighbors in town or people I "double dated" with!
Editor's Comment: With his letter to the editor, Joe is issuing a challenge to other alumni to send in stories and tributes. Joe is doing his part to keep this publication alive, now how about some of you jumping in and helping out! I have said it before, and will say it again; there are no professional writers in this publication. Write a story or tribute in your own words. If you wish, Nancy will edit it without changing your meaning or content or at your request it will be left as is.
Furnish enough stories and maybe we can boost this newsletter up to being issued every other month, instead of quarterly.
Idiot Crossing: The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it's safe to cross the street. I was crossing with an intellectually challenged coworker of mine, when she asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. Appalled, she responded, "What on earth are blind people doing driving?" She was a probation officer in Wichita, Kansas
Did you miss me for those three days?
By Joe Leech (Class of 1956)
Did you miss me for those three days? I bet you didn't! And with all the years now passed, I don't even recall what specific three days they were, except that they were in our junior year. The reason I remember is that it was the year I was an Editor of Bisonalities.
You recall . . . the old version before computers, Xerox machines, etc. The time when all the copy had to be typed on those duplicator masters that made the beautiful (?) blue copies. Well before word processors!
Do you recall that when we started pricing the paper in 1955, it was first three cents and then in this issue it went all the way up to five cents? The price of a good candy bar or a six oz bottle of pop!
I mark this as the junior year because it involved Mr. Dingle. Mr. Stubbe was our Principal our senior year. I also recall walking home across the ball diamond, which would have put it in the old school.
That price increase brought phone calls of objection from parents to the school office, which was so heavily staffed at the time . . . Sarah Stull and Mr. Dingle (Compare that to the staffing of a high school office almost anywhere today!).
But those calls were only minor phone calls compared to the other ones.
Seems we were forming our new school district for the new high school and that there was a matter of inefficiency. There are a couple types of school boards: A consolidated school board; and a combined school board. The latter is where we take all the school boards from the districts that merged to form our new high school and make one big board. Maybe 30-40 people. I don't recall how many people, not sure I ever knew exactly, but it was a lot. The first type board would take a couple people from each new district and form a more workable board. The latter type board made sense to me.
It also seemed at the time that our big consolidated board wasn't working and so I wrote an editorial in the Bisonalities. How it got by our faculty advisor I'll never know. Was that Mrs. Malone or Mrs. Byers? Can't remember that either.
The editorial went something like this . . . "About our school board . . . It's not very effective, and the reason is that it's too large. For my fellow students, here's the options our board has. You know, we need things done as we start our new school, and everyone knows that there's bickering and a whole lot of opinions. We have one of those nice big ones, and it seems to me that if the Board members really had the interests of the school and students at heart, they'd vote themselves into the more efficient consolidated board. But I don't think this will ever happen. There are too many egos, too many people on the Board that membership makes them be a big "somebody" in their community. To them, that self importance is far more important than doing what's right by the school and their students." The editorial went on like this for about a half page.
The paper went home that night, and first, parents were not happy about the increase in price, but the parents weren't half as unhappy as some of the board members. I recall the first phone calls coming into my parents at the store (as we were pretty visible) and Mom getting objections and comments such as, "Just where in (#(@*@ does you son get off writing about this? He's just a kid". . . and "This is the last time we'll ever come into Herb and Helen's if you can't control you son any better." It sorta passed by Herb . . . he probably went down to the Eagle to talk it over at the bar, but it really upset Mom.
But that was only the tip of the iceberg, for the next morning after I arrived at school, I got summoned to Mr. Dingle's office, somewhere around second period. He'd probably had his first "go" with our faculty advisor as to how this story got printed.
He was not happy. He closed the door, and asked me, "Did you really write this and what were you thinking?" I told him that a smaller board would really make HIS job easier. Our school was behind in construction, and this made sense.
He told me in no uncertain terms that whether it did or didn't, it upset a whole lot of people, possibly even set things back, and he wanted me to print a retraction and letter. I told him I can't do that. I don't recall a whole lot more of the conversation or how I justified saying I could not or would not, but I held my ground as he got redder and redder in the face. I think Mr. Dingle was pretty used to having his way.
Finally he said, "Joe, if you won't do that, I have no choice left. You are expelled for three days to go home and think it over". I got my stuff from my locker and left.
Funny thing was... hardly anything else was ever said and I didn't get fired from being the editor. Don't recall a change in faculty advisor either.
As to the Board . . . They did the right thing.
Did you miss me those three days?
Idiot working: When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver's side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. "Hey," I announced to the technician, "it's open!" To which he replied, "I know - I already got that side." This was at the Chevy dealership in ROCK HILL, South Carolina!
My three 'first' bicycles
By Herb Walden (Class of 1956)
Do you remember your first bicycle? I'm afraid I don't -- remember yours, that is. But I do remember mine. In fact, I remember all three of my first bikes.
Mom and Dad got my very first bicycle from a neighbor when I was about eight years old. It was bright red and blue, had 14-inch wheels, and was not equipped with brakes. Looking at old pictures, I see now that it resembled those little circus bikes that clowns and bears ride.
I learned to ride in our driveway -- nice, smooth gravel with a very slight down slope. With my one-track mind, it was hard for me to concentrate on balancing, pedaling, and steering all at the same time. The gradual incline of the driveway relieved me of pedaling, and left me free for balancing and steering.
However, if I steered, I lost my balance. If I kept my balance, I forgot to steer, which invariably caused me to slam into the only tree along the driveway. It was a thorn tree, too. The more I thought about the dumb tree, the more likely I was to hit it. Sometimes I'd start off and get everything together and be going right along. Then I'd glance at the tree and uncontrollably head right for it!
I might have stopped if I'd had brakes, but that would just have been something else to think about. I never got hurt, but I did lose my temper several times a day.
Training wheels weren't around in the early 1940s, but I'm willing to bet that the guy who invented them had a thorn tree near his driveway, too.
At around ten, I got my first real bike.
Slightly used, it had 20-inch wheels and a coaster brake so that I could actually stop when I wanted to. It had a wire basket on the handlebars, as many bikes did back then. The theory was that you could put stuff in the basket and transport it. The reality was that the stuff bounced out when you rode over even the slightest bump, like a leaf or a worm.
One thing this bike didn't have was a chain guard. Lots of bikes were chain-guardless back in those days. "So what?" you say. Well, unless you took the proper precautions, a pants-leg could get caught in the chain and sprocket. That could yank a kid off a bike in a big hurry. The least that could happen was a very greasy pants-leg with a couple of holes punched in it.
One popular remedy was to roll up your right pants-leg, which is what I always did. Another was to wear a clip, like a lady's bracelet, that went around the pants-leg and held it tight. I never had one. They looked too much like bracelets to me.
Along came Christmas 1948 and waiting for me that morning was a brand-new "Roadmaster," my first full-sized bike!
Now let me remind you of what bicycles were like in those days. They were big and heavy, unlike the present skinny, little lightweights. My new bike weighed darn near as much as me. If my bicycle had been a living thing, a bike of today would look like its skeleton.
The seat was large and comfortable, quite different from the thing you find on a modern bike (which, if it were made of wood, would be called a "stick").
I added a sheepskin cover to mine to make it even more comfy. We didn't have gears on our old bikes. None of this 5-speed or 10-speed stuff. No, sir! We didn't need all those fancy levers and -- hmmmm. Well, maybe gears aren't such a bad idea at that.
When I was a kid, there weren't too many of the Roadmaster species around Waterford. My friend Ted had one, but it was a different model. Bud, who lived next door, had a Schwinn, and my cousin Donnie had a Rollfast. Some kids had J.C. Higgins bikes, which was Sears and Roebuck's brand. Montgomery Ward's was Hawthorne. There were Columbias and Western Flyers and even an Iver Johnson, which I knew only from ads in the Boy Scout handbook.
There were as many brands as there were kids to ride them.
My bike had a dandy big headlight, which I didn't use much. Mostly because I rarely rode after dark and the batteries were dead most of the time anyway.
There was a horn enclosed in the decorative tank that fit between the cross bars. It was okay, but it quit working before I really had a chance to annoy anyone with it. Those horns never seemed to work for very long on any bike.
Behind the seat and over the rear fender was the luggage carrier. No one I knew ever carried actual luggage, but you could strap on other things, like school books. You could also sit on it, if you weren't too heavy, and go for a ride as a passenger. But most passengers chose to sit side-saddle on the cross bar.
There was a time when Ted and I thought we were bicycle repairmen. Our repairs consisted of cleaning and greasing the coaster brake. Mostly, we oiled things.
I don't know whether coaster brakes are still around, what with gears and hand-brakes. If you aren't familiar with the device, the coaster brake allowed you to coast without the pedals going around. A bit of a backward push on the pedals applied the brake. Two of the major kinds of coaster brakes were Bendix and New Departure. Our Roadmaster bikes had Bendix brakes, so Ted and I were authorities on taking them apart and re-assembling them.
One day, we made a deal with a neighbor for his old bike. We were going to fix it up, sell it, and become rich.
The old bike was rather dilapidated, but we thought a little paint would hide that. So we started on our lubrication binge. We oiled everything that moved, looked like it had moved, or appeared that it should move.
Then came the coaster brake. It was a New Departure (aptly named, we found). We expected it to be similar to our Bendix brakes, which were composed of about a half-dozen parts. Not so the New Departure. When it came apart, about 8,000 little washer-like things jumped out. (I'm exaggerating. It was probably more like 7,000). Some had little tabs on them, some were plain.
We decided they went together in some definite combination, but we never stumbled upon it. We tried a dozen or more times with the same results: Everything worked all right until we applied the brakes.
It took three or four backward turns of the pedals before the brakes caught, if they caught at all.
I don't remember whatever happened to that old bike. I'm quite sure we didn't sell it, because I don't recall being rich.
I still have my Roadmaster; although I haven't been on it in years. It's kind of rusty and in poor condition, but then, so am I.
It would be fun to get it oiled up and ride it, but it's been so long, I'd probably have to learn all over again. I'd do it too--but there's this thorn tree growing down along the driveway . . .
By Elizabeth Faulhaber Demmery-Potter - (Class of 1955)
Springtime is not far away and high school students are thinking about "The Prom."
I am somewhat shocked and amazed by the behavior of today's students when it comes to one of the biggest events of the year. Our neighbor boy was invited by several girls to be their date, as Brandon is 6'4" and probably the cutest blond in the school! He plays baseball, the all American sport, drives a nearly new black cab and 1/2 pickup that shines in the distance at all times. He helps his parents on the ranch, as well as lending a helping hand to us and many others in times of need. Just a clean cut kid of 17, but sad truth is that one girl even admitted she wanted him to escort her to the Prom because he would look "really great in her pictures." Sign of the times I suppose.
Back in the 1950's, a girl would never dream of asking a boy for a date, let alone a major school function.
Now the requirements include a Tux rental, possibly a limousine, and dinner at Red Lobster or other comparable place in price. Then of course, there are all the after the dance activities.
Brandon agreed to take a teacher's daughter. When she asked about flowers, he said, "If you want them, get them yourself." I was a bit taken by such a remark, but it continues. When asked about a limo, he said he would drive his truck as his friend had no transportation for him and his gal. Dinner will be at Pizza Hut, not fancy but filling! Affordable as well!
As my thoughts take me back to the 50's, it reminds me of the excitement of decorating the gym and wearing pin curls to school that day. Everyone joined in the fun. Even if a girl did not have a date, she ushered or served the punch but was included in the festivities nevertheless.
The guys cleaned their parent's car or truck. If they were lucky enough to have their own form of transportation, they cleaned it up.
I still laugh as my prom date in '55 painted whitewalls on his old Nash, in fact pebbles stuck to the still wet paint the night of the prom . . . living on a dirt road certainly had it's share of disadvantages.
Girls either borrowed a formal, or sewed one, no dinner before the big dance. Perhaps College Inn in Erie provided a sandwich and Coke after, if we had enough gas and cash for such a treat!
Union City was a bit more progressive in providing a movie in their theater after dancing until Midnight. I remember falling asleep mid-way in the most uncomfortable clothes of my childhood.
To avoid auto accidents with kids driving all over the countryside half asleep, we had a Dusk 'till Dawn Prom, "record hop," at the high school gym and refreshments were served.
All in all, I am so thrilled that I was born in the '30's, missed the Great Depression, enjoyed "Happy Days" and now benefit with all the magical things as computers, dishwashers, clothes dryers, and remote TV . . . (that is, if I ever get the remote away from Hubby!!) LOL
Fond memories to treasure for a lifetime include the late Eugene (Squeaky) Cross, who ASKED and escorted me to both his Junior and Senior proms. The only disappointment was I just knew he would pull up in a brand new Pontiac convertible with the top down, of course . . . as his Father owned the local dealership. Instead, we went in a basic Chevrolet, with plastic covering even the sun visors, but he was the perfect gentleman both evenings.
I will always admire and love him for the honor of being his date for "Prom Night" '53 and '54! (The only dates we had together!)
God Bless and rest your soul Squeaky!
See you all next issue!