Bisonalities, Again

FLBHS                                    WHS

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

January 2008 -------------------------------------- Winter Issue -------------------------- Volume 9 - Number 2


Cat's Corner
Fair time memories
A sled riding kid

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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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.

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Bob Catlin - Class of 1956
Cat's Corner

What a fall we had here in Southern Maryland. October started off with temperatures averaging 12-17 degrees above our normal day time temperature for October of 72 degrees. We set four temperature records during the first 15 days of the month.

The bad part of the warm temperatures was that we went 35 days without measurable rain and our county government put us on water use restrictions.

The great thing about the warm temperatures is that I have been able to get out bass fishing as often as I wanted. I have been able to average three days a week fishing various rivers and streams in the area from my boat and five evenings every week fishing from the bank of our rivers and streams for blue gill, yellow perch, and crappie.

Living in Southern Maryland has allowed me to get in a lot of fishing days. We have seven rivers and two creeks within a 20-25 minute drive of my house. The creeks I am talking about are as big, if not bigger, than French Creek. I can take by boat out in them and find water up to 28 feet deep in numerous spots.

Of course, we also have the Chesapeake Bay, but my 14 foot Jon boat is not big enough to navigate that waterway.

In addition to the great fishing, we have an abundance of beautiful birds in this area almost year round. On an average day of fishing I will see trumpeter swans, Canada geese, mallards, great white egrets, cattle egrets, great blue heron, and the most beautiful, majestic bird of them all, the bald eagle.

One creek I fish, Mattawoman Creek, has five pair of nesting bald eagles. On any given day you can watch them flying around the area and diving into the creek to catch fish to feed their young. It is quite a thrill to watch them. There are days when I am out in the boat that I watch the birds more than I fish. I have gone fishing on several days and never put a hook in the water, I was too busy watching the wild life and the birds.

On the 21st of October, Nancy and I made a quick trip up to Erie. One of my Uncles, on my late mother's side, died of complications from a fall at his home a week earlier. The funeral was held in his home town of Warren, PA.

My sister, Barbara, class of 1952 and my brother Ernie, class of 1947, also attended the funeral. Leslie, class of 1956, who lives in the Clearwater area of Florida, was unable to make the trip.

While in Erie, Nancy and I were able to get together with Chuck (class of 1956) and Alice (class of 1966) Cowley and Buck (class of 1959) and Bonnie Davis.

We only stayed four days because Nancy and I both had dental appointments that we preferred not to postpone.

On the 30th of October I had lunch with two Waterford High graduates I had not seen in 54 years, Phil Hazen and Lowell Salmon.

Both Phil and Lowell live in the Annapolis, Maryland area.

Lowell contacted me in early October, via e-mail, and suggested we get together for lunch with Phil.

We had a three hour lunch and talked about our days in Waterford and what we had done since. Like me, both Lowell and Phil are retired.

A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France and resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.


Sandi Clark - Class of 1972
Fair Time Memories
By Sandi Clark - Class of 72

We just had Waterford Heritage days, the steam engine show as well as a few small town heritage days in July and then the different fairs are going on in the area, including the Waterford Fair in September.

I remember when the fair was in Waterford instead of on Route 19 south of town. It used to be where the ball field is. It made for a very crowded time in this small town but those nights were charged with energy and excitement. The whole family would go. That meant five girls, three boys and Mom. Mom looked a lot like us then (young, dark hair) so we liked to try to pass her off as one of us girls. It worked as long as we didn't know the people very well. All our friends and neighbors got a good laugh with us. Even when it moved outside of town it was a great time to see all your friends before school started and have one last hurrah before school and winter.

It was always fun to enter our crafts and sewing in the fair. I tatted and crocheted and two of my sisters crocheted. Each of us would get at least one ribbon a year and my tatting was sure to win. The other enjoyment was seeing how much food we could eat. That probably wasn't the brightest thing to do and now I wouldn't be able to. As farm kids we loved seeing the animals, too. Even though we moved into Mill Village in 1964 we still thought of ourselves as farmers. To this day we all love growing things, plant or animal.

It was even more fun when we were younger, probably just starting into our teens. We would participate in the parades. Our church group entered a float each year and everyone had to help make tissue flowers.

For days we would make flowers and then start gluing them in place. It was worth it to be on the float and show off our handiwork. Real flowers were way too expensive even then for an entire float. We would try to keep the float together for a couple months while we attended all the parades in the area. Those were the days before a lot of TV when we were outside and active all summer rather than inside sitting. Those were great times.

Even though I now live in Summit, I don't get back to Waterford or Mill Village as much as I'd like and I really wish I hadn't had to move away. Now, I can't afford to try to move back. Memories are wonderful reminders though. I'm sorry I don't have pictures to go with them.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U C L A.


Herb Walden - Class of 1956
A Sled-Riding Kid
By Herb Walden

When the winter winds blow and the winter snows snow, I often think of when I was a sled-riding kid back in the 40's.

Those were real sleds we had back then, not the dinky plastic thing you see around nowadays. No sir! Our sleds were build tough --- hardwood bed, steel frame, steel runners, nuts, bolts, rivets --- oh yeah, those were sleds!

My first sled was a 3-footer, and my sledding consisted primarily of Mom and Dad pulling me around. All kids had sleds, and if there was no one to pull you, you just pulled the empty sled around by yourself.

The big kids would go belly-slamming in the road. It was fairly safe, there not being much traffic then. To belly-slam, you carried the sled in front of you, ran like the dickens and slammed yourself and the sled down onto the hard-packed snow. It was surprising how far you could go!

I was too young for this. Heck, I wasn't even allowed to cross the street much less slide on it. After watching the big kids, I thought I ought to be able to do the same thing in the safety of the backyard. I didn't realize that hard packed snow is a must for belly-slamming. So I tried it in the soft, fluffy stuff. I ran as fast as I could and slammed down onto the sled. The sled never moved and inch! Neither did I, having a very good grip for a little kid. Except for my head. It went down, driving my chin onto the steering mechanism. I still have the chipped front tooth, which was brand new at the time, to remind me of that episode.

For really good sledding, three things are required: a sled, a kid, and a hill. In our part of town, there just weren't any hills. Well, there were, but as I said before, I wasn't allowed to cross the street.

My cousin, Neil, (older and bigger than I), came to the rescue. With a little ingenuity and a snow shovel he built a hill by packing snow in the front steps. Starting with a push off the porch, I would go zooming down the steps, down the long sidewalk, and down the bank to the ditch, stopping just short of the road. I couldn't go any further because I wasn't allowed to cross the street.

What a fun day that was! I think I nearly wore out the sled runners. I nearly wore out Neil, too, since he had to re-pack the steps after every couple of runs.

After I had muddled my way through more than ten years of life, we moved way up to the other end of town. What a great place it was! I was practically out in the country with my school chum, Bud, living right next door. And in back of our home, a hill!

There was a narrow cornfield between Bud's house and mine, and when the first snow fell, we walked back through the field and up the hill. At the top of the hill was a small woods, and as you entered the woods, you went downhill again. We slid both directions --- into the woods and out of the woods.

Sliding in the woods was really the most fun because you had to go around trees. And until you got a track made, you didn't always go around the trees. Slow as we went, it was still a bone-jarring experience to impact even a very small tree.

Many times there wasn't very much snow in the woods. After a few trips down the hill, we were sliding mostly on wet, half-frozen leaves. I didn't care. It was a hundred times better than our old place.

Bud was more daring than I. He had a pair of skis, the kind with straps that you just scuffed your feet into. He used to ski down through the cornfield. Maybe I should say he used to try to ski. It seems like the snow was never quite right for skiing, and besides, the hill just wasn't steep enough.

I don't think he ever went more than a few feet at a time. Nevertheless, it looked too dangerous to me, so I never tried it.

My cousin Donnie often came over after school to go sledding. He and I usually slid in the field instead of the woods. We'd slide and slide until the street lights came on, the universal signal for all kids to go home.

One day we were sliding in what had been a couple of inches of wet snow. When the street lights came on, we said, "One more time!", and climbed back up the hill.

"One more time" is a very dangerous thing to say and even more dangerous to participate in.

Donnie went down first. I followed. By now, the snow was worn away to mud at an old dead furrow near the bottom of the hill. I came down faster than any trip of the day! The sled hit the mud and stopped dead. (Hence the name "dead furrow"). This time, I didn't stop! I zipped off the sled face-first through mud, snow, stones, and perhaps a few small rodents who had been hibernating there until I passed through!

Well, I didn't break anything and I didn't bleed too much, but I did have a sore nose and mouth for the next few days. Sometimes I think I could still spit out a little gravel, but I guess it's just my imagination.

A few years later, I got a toboggan for Christmas. Toboggans are neat because they go in almost any kind of snow whether it's deep or not. A regular sled needs special snow and not too much of it.

For the uninitiated, a toboggan is a runner-less sled made entirely of hardwood --- maple or ash or something. The wood is curled into a half-circle at the front which makes it glide easily through the snow and helps make the toboggan look like something other than a plank.

Rather than go into all my tobogganing exploits, let me instead give you of a few basic toboggan rules that I learned:

1. If you are barreling downhill and over a "jump", try to maintain contact with the toboggan. If you and the toboggan become separated, there is no guarantee as to what position either will be in upon landing.

2. If a collision with a tree, house, or large animal is imminent, it is perfectly ethical to leave the toboggan in any convenient manner. You are under no obligation to stay aboard.

3. Do not allow yourself to be towed on a toboggan behind a car. When the car stops, you will not, and will therefore get to see a lot more of the underside of an automobile than is necessary.

4. If, while lying on a toboggan, you see good prospects for a "head-on", do not stick your head under the "curl" for protection. While it may seem like a good idea, independent research has proven otherwise.

Over the last few decades, my sledding days have dwindled to zero, but you know, it still sounds like fun. I have an old sled. And not too far across from our place, there is a dandy-looking hill. I'm often tempted to try it out some winder day. Only three things keep me from it: (1) I get cold sooner than I used to; (2) I get tired sooner than I used to; and (3) I' m still not allowed to cross the street!


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

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