A quarterly Newsletter dedicated to the Alumni of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools
July 2007 -------------------------------------------- Summer Issue --------------------------- Volume 8 - Number 4
Welcome to the Bisonalities, Again, a 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 January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.
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Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
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Nancy and I normally make two or three trips back home during a given year, but this year, for the first time, we will be visiting the Waterford area twice. We visited the area for the period of June 5th through the 12th because Nancy's oldest brother, Sonny, was rushed to Hamot Medical Center for quadruple by-pass surgery. Our second trip will be for the period of July 17th through the 24th. We hope to be in the area to attend the Heritage Days festivities and the Third Annual Alumni Night, Friday, July 20, sponsored by the Fort LeBoeuf School District Foundation at the Stancliff Fire House. Hopefully, we will see many of you there, or later that evening when we drop by the patio of the Waterford Hotel for a libation, or two.
The one liners used in this issue were received from several of you on the same day and are entitled, “The wisdom of Larry the Cable Guy.”
Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.
Sorry -- only the memories get delivered
By Herb Walden
I have groceries in my blood. Now that I think of it, I guess that's true for all of us. But I'm speaking figuratively about myself.
I wasn't exactly born in a grocery store, but coincidently, I was born in an apartment above one. That, however, is not the reason for my lifelong interest in the grocery business.
From a few years before I came into the world until 1946, my Dad, Bill Walden, worked for his brother, Vic, in the Red and White store in Waterford, PA. Later, in the 1950's, Dad had the store by himself and I worked there part-time.
The building that housed the Red and White stands at the corner of High Street and South Park Row and is known as the I.O.O.F. Block.
The earliest record I can find shows that in 1910 the storefront housed “Phelps and Sherman Furniture and Undertaking.” Apparently, it first became a grocery store in the 1920s and remained that until the late '50s when a restaurant moved in for a short time.
A little later, Merle Heard moved his drugstore from next door into the old Red and White. It remains a pharmacy today.
Back in the 1940s and '50s grocery stores sold -- groceries. Oh yes, there were tobacco products and cleaning agents, but they were nothing like today's supermarket/variety stores.
There were many things in the grocery store that came in bulk when I was a kid. I can still remember the big vinegar barrel with its wooden pump standing in the back. (“Bring your own jug!”)
No waxy chocolate
But more importantly, I remember bulk cookies (Nabisco and Ontario, by brand name). They came in boxes about a foot square that were fitted with a metal frame and a glass door. I think there were about a dozen boxes on display, and customers bought their cookies by the pound.
Each kind of cookie had a name. I do recall that the best kind were chocolate-covered mounds of marshmallow that sat atop a semi-soft cookie with just a tad of jelly inside, Boy, were they good!
Marshmallow then was always soft and gooey and chocolate tasted like chocolate, unlike the brown, waxy stuff we have nowadays. There were similar marshmallow cookies that were covered with coconut instead of chocolate. Some were white and some were pink. They were extra-good, too.
And then there were rectangular cookies with ridges that . . . hmmmmm . . . I'd better quit this cookie stuff. Otherwise I'll have to stop writing and go to the store!
The real difference
Meat was all in “bulk,” too. This was in the pre-pre-packing era. I am sure there are young people out there who think the deli section in a supermarket is quite an innovation. It's no big deal to us old guys; that's just the way it was in the '40s and '50s.
What is really different are the prices.
Around 1950, one could buy a pound of most kinds of cold cuts for 49 or 59 cents. Hamburger was 59 cents per pond and link wieners and chicken were 39 cents per pound.
Hamburger was scooped into a thin cardboard disk, weighed, covered with a sheet of waxed paper, and then wrapped in brown “butcher” paper. Cold cuts and all other meats were handled the same way, except for the dish.
Neatly wrapping a package of meat isn't too difficult until you come to some ridiculously shaped thing like a chicken. In my early teen years, when I worked for Dad, I got pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. Trouble is there isn't much call for chicken wrappers anymore.
Except for cold cuts, all of our meat was cut by hand on the big maple butcher block. Power saws hadn't made it to Waterford at that time. Some things, like ham, were easy: Just slice down to the bone, cut through the bone with a meat saw, and finish the slice with a knife.
Pork chops were a little different. Starting with a whole loin, you sliced between the ribs with a knife. The bone is then chopped through with a meat cleaver. My Dad was really good at this; one hack with the cleaver for each chop. On the other hand, I required at least three swings of the cleaver, none of which ever quite hit the same place. My pork chops tasted fine, but they weren't pretty.
It's strange how little things change in the grocery store. Oleo margarine was called just “oleo” back then. Now it's just “margarine.” No matter what you call it, it used to come un-colored. It looked pretty much like lard. A little tablet of yellow coloring was included in the package, so if you wanted to pass it off as butter, you could mix in the color at home.
Some law prevented the manufacturer from coloring it beforehand.
In the produce department, bananas came in long, wooden boxes and they were still on the stalk. The stalk was hung on a long ceiling hook, and customers could break off whatever number of bananas they wanted. A bunch of bananas was called a “hand.”
Forget the oranges!
Oranges came in crates, and the oranges were individually wrapped in tissue paper.
But never mind the oranges, the crate was the thing” The wooden orange crate was one of the great inventions of mankind. It was composed of six slats, about five inches wide and three feet long, and three solid wood boards about 14 inches square (two ends and a middle).
What made the crate so wonderful was that a kid could use it to build just about anything. With a little care, a crate could be taken apart without splitting more than one or two slats. Two or three crates made quite a pile of lumber when they were disassembled. I even saved the nails -- 36 per crate.
At the store, Dad had rows of the crates stacked in the back room for shelves for stock. We even used a few in the attic at home for storage shelves.
Cantaloupes came in crates, too, but they were different and not nearly as good as orange crates. And cabbage crates were totally useless, at least to us kids.
The best part was that the crates were free. Any kid who wanted one had only to ask. We never had a stockpile of crates at the store. They went out about as fast as they came in.
Fruits and vegetables came and went with the seasons. Now you can buy strawberries in January. Back then, you could only get them in June. I suppose being able to buy any kind of produce at any time of the year is a good thing, but it's taken away a certain thrill. I mean, if you can have corn-on-the-cob anytime of year, then what's the point of August?
A lot of our produce came from local farms, especially potatoes. Waterford has always been potato country. Dad bought potatoes in 100-pond burlap bags, and I usually got the job of re-bagging then into pecks (15 pounds).
Of all the different jobs I had at the store, bagging potatoes was the worst.
Not only was it boring, but occasionally I'd run into a rotten potato. If you have never plunged your hand into a rotten potato, then you don't know what rotten really is!
My cousin, Donnie, worked at the store, too. A year older than me, Donnie was always clever enough to get out of potato-bagging. When the time came, he was always busy stocking shelves or putting up orders. I have never even been accused of being clever, so I was always available.
Donnie and I started working on Saturdays as stock boys. We soon graduated to putting up orders, waiting on customers, and elementary meat-cutting.
Many customers would come in and tell us what they wanted, or hand us a list, and we would go around and gather the groceries. Others would phone in their orders, either to be picked up later or delivered. Dad delivered groceries all over town, and quite often way out in the country. It was a free service. Imagine that!
My Dad has been gone a long time. So has Donnie. And the store even longer. But sometimes in the back of my mind, I can still hear Dad answering the phone to take someone's order on a busy Saturday.
“Red and White!” he'd say. No “hello” or any greeting; just “Red and White!' Occasionally he would forget himself and answer our home phone the same way.
I still remember the store's phone number: 2341.
We don't deliver any more.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
Home Ec. and Recipes
By Elizabeth Faulhaber Demmery-Potter
Seventh grade meant going to 'Town' and starting Junior High School as it was known then ... no such thing as 'Middle School' in those days!
For me it was an exciting time! Meeting new people, a longer ride on the bus, being able to walk to stores for treats on our lunch hour, especially an Ice Cream ... whatever! Some days it was a giant dill pickle from a grocery store ... and just one nickel bought such a delight!
Back to Home Ec.! The late Bette Davis was the teacher, of course. She spent many years at Waterford High. The thought of 'Cooking' and having something to eat in class was always anticipated with joy!
Half the class worked on sewing while the other half cooked or baked and all enjoyed a snack. Now that I think about it, there were neither enough sewing machines nor kitchen utensils for the entire class to be doing the same lesson! (I still laugh how Mrs. Davis always started the girls on the day's project, then 'ducked into' the Teacher's Lounge that adjoined the Home Ec. Room. When she returned to class, the cigarette smoke came out in a huge cloud following her through the French Doors!)
Needless to say, we copied the recipe of the day in a notebook. Chances are that we never again used those handwritten documents! I still recall the very first accomplishment; it was "Orange Ambrosia." It sounded so elegant and turned out to be coconut sprinkled on orange slices. Nevertheless, we learned to follow directions for future kitchen delights! Many years to look forward to using kitchen skills, somehow they last a lifetime!
Home Ec. class in later years resulted in many more kitchen proficiencies. I recall a new teacher, Mr. Johnston, tall dark haired and handsome. How the girls giggled and often gifted him with their portion of whatever we created that day. Not this old gal though, I was always hungry and welcomed the food. No worry about calories, cholesterol, or other diet risks then.
Now, as I shuffle through my many recipes stored in numerous places, the most used ones spattered with unidentifiable spots and splatters, the ones that I plan to try 'Someday' ... newspaper clippings tossed in as well. My late Uncle Paul loved to clip recipes. In fact, I still use one from the Pittsburgh Press dated 1946 ... a wonderful, creamy Rice Pudding with a meringue topping.
Recipes are memories of so many friends and acquaintances throughout my lifetime! I participated in a cake decorating class in Fairview. Recipes swapped there clutter my file as well, gotten from some women I do not even recall!
While living there a wonderful friend taught me to bake bread. Ann, a Hungarian refugee, told me all her secrets that allowed me to win several Blue Ribbons at the Waterford and Albion Fairs! Such a thrill to accomplish that prize!
But alas, those days are over with arthritis preventing bread baking but knowing my family enjoyed warm bread straight from the oven for many years, still makes me smile!
Neighbor ladies that included Barbara Elder Desko would come to our home before Christmas time and we would spend the day making nut rolls, from a recipe that makes approximately 500 cookies. Such a great time we enjoyed together! We would divide the end result, share the ingredient expenses, have lunch, and gab the entire day! My kitchen floor looked as though a blizzard of Confectioners sugar hit it. Now we are scattered in many states, long distances separate us, but still we have reminisce with our annual Christmas card and memories of making those delightful, delicate goodies.
It is strange how regions of our great country offer altogether different customs, recipes, and traditions. Holidays in the southwest were different and exciting to me while living there. Now life on the Prairie offers another way of cooking. Never again will I enjoy ham hocks and black eyed peas for New Year's Day, but we are blessed with great friends that love my pork and sauerkraut. So we have dinner together and call it North verses South and Praise God for His Bounty!
I still would much rather read a cook book instead of a novel. I still enjoy cooking and all its memories whether it be at a campsite or kitchen, a necessary evil that one can either relish or detest. So glad I enjoy that part of my life!
Thanks for wandering down memory lane with me, and keep those home stoves glowing, nothing beats breaking bread with friends and family in my humble opinion!
(By the way.....If you see two men in a kitchen, the way to tell which is a Cowboy . . . it is the one on the Range.) Boo, joke.
Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
The following article was received from Buck Davis (Class of 1958). It appeared in The Waterford Leader on November 13, 1958.
Bisons Upset in Final Game
A determined, upset minded Edinboro team eked out a 7-0 victory over once beaten, once tied, Fort LeBoeuf in the seasons final for both squads.
The contest was a battle all the way as the defensive units of both squads threw back the offensive onslaught time and time again. The sound of crashing helmets and leather could be heard all over the field. Hard blocking and tackling was accentuated. LeBoeuf had three golden scoring opportunities in the first half, but failed to cash in, as the rugged Edinboro defense stiffened to stop the Bisons on the 11, 12, and 20 yard lines. The teams left the field at the midway point in a scoreless deadlock.
The Turtles received the opening kickoff of the second-half on their own 15 yard line and returned it all the way to the Bison 35 before they were stopped. Then lightning struck as the Turtles engineered a drive that finally hit “TDville” early in the third quarter. The point-after-TD was good as Edinboro went ahead to stay at 7-0.
The loss pushed the Bisons into third place in the county league with a 5-2-1 mark. Their overall season record was 6-2-1.
Playing their last game for Fort LeBoeuf were co-captains, Dave Pifer and John Leech. Also playing there last game were Harry Thomas, Dave Powell, Eugene Davis, Rob McLallen, Art Leuchen, and John Dubowski. They will be sorely missed in the Bison camp next fall. The boys are a credit to their school and the community.
Thus the 1958-1959 football season is now history. It will go down as the most successful season in FLB annuals to date; as one of the most exciting and hair-raising; as the team that built up school spirit unequaled in the area. All in all, it was a good year for the community, school, coaches, and players.
Just remember --- if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off.
See you all next issue!