Bisonalities, Again

FLBHS                                    WHS

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

September 2007 ------------------------------------- Fall Issue ------------------------------ Volume 9 - Number 1


Cat's Corner
Letter to the Editor
Fond Autumn Memories
Why Washington, DC?

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.

The Bisonalities, Again 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 former classmates? If you do, please 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
Fax: (301) 375-9250

Please, NO handwritten submissions.

The Bisonalities, Again Newsletter is available to any and all alumni, teachers, and administrators of Waterford High School or FLBHS on the Web site, free.

If you know an alumnus, teacher, or administrator who would be interested, tell them about the Web site. None of the material in this newsletter has a copyright unless otherwise noted. If you wish to make copies of this newsletter and distribute it to other Alumni or friends, please feel free to do so.

If you are reading this newsletter on-line and would like a printable version of it, a PDF version is available on the web site. That is, a file that can be read and displayed by the FREE Adobe File Reader. This will allow you to print the newsletter exactly as if you had received it by snail-mail. If you would like a PDF copy of the newsletter, it is located on the Main Menu under as "Past Issues Bisonalities Again."


Bob Catlin - Class of 1956
Cat's Corner

Our second trip to the Waterford area for 2007 got off to a bad start. Two days before we were going to leave, Sunday, July 15, I received word that a very good friend of mine, who had been fighting colon cancer for over six years, died. His wake, service, and burial were scheduled for Thursday, July 19, so we postponed our trip north until after the services.

While in the area, we made it to the Third Annual Alumni Night at the fire hall, libations at the Waterford Hotel, and to watch the Heritage Days parade.

In addition, we had lunch and/or dinner with many of our friends during the seven days we were in the area.

The “Things I did not know, or have forgotten” were received from Pat Taha (Class of 1956).

Jerry Vogt, FLBHS class of 1966 has made a six-DVD set "50 Years of Fort LeBoeuf Football, An Oral History."

If you are looking strictly for highlight moments of top games and players, you will be met half-way. There are plenty of highlight clips. But the real treat is listening to interviews with those involved with LeBoeuf Bison football, starting with the Bison six-man team all the way through the teams of the early 21st century.

The interviews are interspersed with photos and clips relative to the team, players, and school.

Jerry, who lives in Millcreek, still has strong ties to the Waterford community. That led to his idea to document LeBoeuf Bison football.

Jerry obtained old photos from the Waterford Public Library. He also asked people in Waterford to help him and they responded with additional photos and films. That added images to the story telling of such people as legendary coaches Carm Bonito and Joe Shesman, administrator Jim Wolf, and former star players such as Walley Mahle and Brian Milne.

Jerry began working on the project by scripting, shooting, editing, and producing until the final product emerged. He expected the final product to be about an hour long, but the DVDs are over five hours of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf football history.

The six-DVD set is $20. To buy the set, call Bob Terrill at (814) 454-7329 or Walley Mahle at (814) 796-9059.

Q: Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called "passing the buck"?

A: In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility, he would "pass the buck" to the next player.


Letter to the Editor


The Waterford Joint High School Class of 1947 celebrated its 60th year class reunion at the Eagle Hotel in Waterford on Friday, July 20th, 2007.

Of the twenty-nine who graduated, fifteen classmates were able to attend. Including guests, there was a total of twenty-three attendees. For various reasons, four classmates were unable to attend and we were unable to locate two others. We hope they are alive and well. We are sad to say that over the years, eight classmates have died.

Our special guest for the evening was Marion Russell, the wife of the late Jake Russell. Jake was our homeroom teacher and our class advisor for our junior and senior years. Not only was Jake a great teacher, but an all around nice guy. Marion read a poem about class reunions that she had written.

Ernie Catlin was the moderator. Lyle Loiser gave the Benediction.

Dorrie (Lang) Proctor was the driving force behind the reunion and was helped by Louise (McGahan) Smith, and Maxine (Rodgers) Burch.

It was great to be able to some spend time with old classmates, some of whom we hadn't seen for years.

The food was great and a good time was had by all.

Ernest Catlin

Q: Why do ships and aircraft in trouble use "mayday" as their call for help?

A: This comes from the French word m'aidez--meaning "help me" -- and is pronounced "mayday."


Elizabeth Faulhaber Demmery-Potter - 2006 in her kitchen
Fond Autumn Memories
By Elizabeth Faulhaber Demmery-Potter (Class of 1955)

When I was a child going to Bagdad School, and then to Strong School, such an improvement, we got to ride a School Bus! After the walk from the school or the Bus stop, we changed our "School Clothes" and one of the chores we faced was picking up fallen apples from our wonderful orchard! We had so many different varieties! Some green with a cheek of red . . . some huge green cooking apples that my Mother made millions of pies with . . . tiny dark red ones with centers of the most brilliant white . . . rough ones that we called Russets . . . fantastic Northern Spies, all very old types of apples!

Anyway, back to that picking up chore. It seemed those apples multiplied each day! There always seemed to be numerous wasps and bees taking more than their share of the juices that flowed after hitting the ground!

But the very best part of the entire season was when we finally gathered enough to make a barrel of cider. My Father loaded burlap bag after bag, baskets, boxes, anything that would hold the fruit, and away we would go to the Union City Cider Mill. Such a buzz of excitement there! Men would stand around chatting, kids running around, and folks waiting to pick up their freshly made cider. I was always in awe of that huge press squeezing all the nice fruit, some bruised beyond recognition . . . all colors of apples . . . and that brown juice would flow!

Dad always had a barrel on the porch, it was wonderful for such a short time, never seemed to get it all drank or given as gifts before it got "Hard." We would listen to stories about how some would much rather drink it after it 'Aged' a while!

I remember so well, my Dad laughing when the town drunk visited one early springtime day, the cider had been frozen, thawed and frozen again, God only knows how many times. The bung had fallen into the barrel but this man was delighted to consume several glasses of that nectar, it had dead wasps and leaves in it, but he was oblivious to the contents! He just needed a bit of alcohol in any fashion! Had some sort of a container and just kept opening that spigot, filling his cup!

In later years, after moving to Fairview, PA., I still enjoyed taking my family to the Sterritannia Cider Mill for a gallon of fresh apple juice. Nothing quite like it for a wonderful autumn refreshment! Add a few doughnuts, and it is sheer Heaven on a cool afternoon!

I wonder if any Cider Mills still exist? Ah! Fond Autumn Memories . . .

Q: Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?

A: It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would then just touch or clink the host's glass with his own.


Bob Catlin
Why Washington, DC?
By Bob Catlin (Class of 1956)

While having dinner last year with one of my classmates, who I had not seen in the 50 years since we graduated from high school, I was asked how I happened to end up leaving Waterford and start working for the Federal Government in Washington, DC.

Let's go back to 1955, the summer of the year before I graduated from high school. My junior year in high school Dad decided that farming just wasn't worth the work, long hours, and low pay. He made a decision to sell the small farm we had lived and worked since 1945.

Leslie and I had one more year left in high school before we were to graduate, so in the summer of 1955, Dad moved us into Waterford and rented a house on East First Street while we were waiting for a new house to be built in Erie and for Leslie and me to graduate.

It was very apparent to me that my parents were not going to be able to afford to send me to college, and even if they could, I did not consider myself college material. So in the spring of my senior year I enlisted in the U.S. Army, with a reporting date, at the processing center in Pittsburgh, of September 15, 1956. I enlisted in the Army with a promise that I would receive electronics training at Biloxi, Mississippi, after completing eight weeks of basic training. At that time, the electronics training was a 26-week course.

In the middle of June, our new house was completed and we moved to West 23rd Street in Erie.

Next door to our new home lived a young lady by the name of Nancy Tregaskis. She would later become my wife. That's right, I married “the girl next door. “

I reported to Pittsburgh for processing and was sent by train to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for eight weeks of Basic Training. Five weeks into Basic, I developed pneumonia and was admitted to the base hospital. I missed two full weeks of Basic. That put me finishing Basic one week past the starting date of the Electronics Training in Biloxi. The next training class did not start until June of 1957.

The Army gave me a choice. I could go to Advance Basic training and then become a gofer at Fort Jackson while waiting for the next Electronics class to begin, keeping in mind that I had to serve two years, after I completed the school, or I could go to Cryptographic School. This meant, if I chose to stick around for the Electronics class to begin, that I would have to re enlist for a longer period than my original three years. By the time I had completed the first eight weeks of basic, I knew that the Army was not a long-term option for me and I did not want to re enlist, so I opted for Cryptographic School.

Upon completion of Basic, I was immediately ship off to Fort Gordon, Georgia and on the 3rd of December 1956 started Crypto School at The South Eastern Signal School (TSESS).

After completing twelve weeks of Crypto training I was assigned to Fort Lee, Virginia. But, before going to Fort Lee, I was sent to the Pentagon, in Washington, DC, for six weeks of on-the-job training.

After serving at Fort Lee for seven months I was informed that I was being transferred to Camp Des Lodges, France.

I served in the Headquarters, European Command communications center in France, until I took my discharge on September 10, 1959, at Fort Dix, New Jersey and returned to Erie, PA to look for work.

I was out of work for approximately five months, drawing $35 a week unemployment insurance.

I found a job, at a starting pay of $1.50 an hour, with a small company in Erie called Wilson Research. It was located at 21st Street and Pittsburgh Avenue.

I worked in their Wing Display Division as a machine shop laborer, making mannequins used in stores to display clothing. The mannequins were made of fiberglass, plastic, and brass. My job was a training position in the Machine Shop making the brass parts.

I trained on, and operated, a metal cutting saw, a precision lathe, a drill press, and on rare occasions, a brass buffing machine.

It didn't take me long to discover that I did not want to do this the rest of my life. I was going home every night covered with brass dust. It was on my clothes and in my nose and mouth. Everything I ate or drank tasted of brass. It would be Monday morning before the taste disappeared and then it was time to start over again.

By now you have probably noticed a pattern. I kept finding things I didn't want to do for the rest of my life, but did not have an idea of what I did want to do.

After approximately a year working in the machine shop and having been married for eight months, I decided to check at Erie's Main Post Office and see what types of Government jobs were available. It was my hope to be able to work for the Post Office.

In the interview with the Post Office employment officer she asked me, with my military training in cryptography and a record of a Top Secret security clearance, if I had thought of working for the Federal Government. I had not, but what the hey, why not?

At that time you did not apply to a specific agency for employment, you applied to the Civic Service Commission. So, I completed the paperwork, mailed it in, and sat back and waited. Approximately a year later, with Nancy six months pregnant, I received an offer of employment from the CIA, NSA, and the Department of State. All three offer letters gave telephone numbers to call collect to discuss the offer. (That was in the days before 1-800 numbers.)

I called the CIA first. Their position included overseas assignments. If I accepted the position they offered me, I had to serve a minimum of eight years out of every ten overseas.

I called NSA next. Their position included all overseas assignments. I would serve my entire career overseas; unless I received enough promotions to a high enough position to allow me to be assigned to the headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland.

I called the Department of State last. They said it would be up to me, if I did not want to serve overseas, I would not have to. I could serve my entire career at the headquarters in Washington, DC. I accepted that position.

After accepting their offer, they informed me I would have to pass a physical and take a typing test. The typing test was conducted in Pittsburgh. I took the typing test and the physical and sent the forms off. 45-days later, October 16, 1961, I reported to the Day Shift of the Unclassified Wire Room on the sixth floor of the Department of State, with a starting salary of a whole breathtaking $4040 per annum. That was $920 more than I was making in the machine shop at Wilson Research, Wing Display Division.

Nancy being seven months pregnant by that time with our first child, Robert, Jr., did not follow me to Washington, DC until January of 1962. Our son was born in November.

I retired from the Department of State in 1994 after 35 years and seven months of Government service. Three years with the Army and 32 years and seven months with the Department of State.

It had been our plan, when I retired, to return to the Erie area to retire. BUT, our three children all settled in the Washington area after they completed school. So, we made the decision to stay in this area to be close to or children and our grandchildren.

Q: Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?

A: Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay called "pygg." When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as "pygg banks." When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a bank that resembled a pig. And it caught on.

See you all next issue!
Be safe and stay well!


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