A quarterly Newsletter dedicated to the Alumni of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools
April 2014------------------------------------------ Spring Issue ------------------------ Volume 15 - Number 3
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please, NO hand written submissions.
The Bisonalities, Again Newsletter is available to any and all alumni, teachers, and administrators of Waterford or Fort LeBoeuf High Schools on the Web site, free.
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In response to my request for stories the following e-mail messages were received:
This is a great story. Student Ron Bennett from the class of 1965 has run a race (either a 5k or 10k) in all of the 50 states. He did his 50th race in Hawaii in 2013.
He has completed a tremendous feat.
A great job that should be well noted.
I am enjoying retirement here in "sunny" Florida. When I see and hear about the weather in Erie and Waterford I am twice blessed to be here. Keep up the good work on the Bisonalities. I really enjoy reading them and seeing the pictures from classmates that are posted. I use your posting also to keep up with the classmates who have passed on. I for one really enjoy your postings. Thanks again!
I have kept a Journal, a kind of non-compulsive diary for years. Reading it gives me a chance to reminisce. Who is the non-family member you have known for the longest time? For me, it is Ted Burns class of '50, husband of Elizabeth, class of '49. I was in first grade with Ted. He and I were the two littlest kids in school. At a wedding reception, I had known my fellow table-mates for a combined 257 years. Stay warm.
I'm writing with the only story I know, and it's a sad one, from our class this year.
On Tuesday January 14, 2014 at St. Vincent Health Center, Keith A. Charleton, age 59 of Summit Township and FLB class of 1972, passed away. Apparently he had been ill for a while. In his obit the family thanked the "excellent staff at Saint Vincent Health Center and Select Specialty Hospital."
Also in his obituary memorials were suggested to the Bison Wrestling Club, 2147 Hare Road, Waterford, PA.
I hope you get more interesting and cheerful stories to write!
There is another story by "Rut" in this quarters Newsletter. Thanks, Rut!
The deaths shown below were published in the Erie Times and on the www.bisonalitiesagain.com web site.
Seems like cars have always had radios, but they didn't.
Here's the story:
One evening, in 1929, two young men named William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high above the Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, to watch the sunset.
It was a romantic night to be sure, but one of the women observed that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.
Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios (Lear served as a radio operator in the U.S. Navy during World War I) and it wasn't long before they were taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car.
But it wasn't easy: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.
One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference. When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago.
There they met Paul Galvin, owner of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. He made a product called a "battery eliminator," a device that allowed battery-powered radios to run on household AC current.
But as more homes were wired for electricity, more radio manufacturers made AC-powered radios.
Galvin needed a new product to manufacture. When he met Lear and Wavering at the radio convention, he found it. He believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a huge business.
Lear and Wavering set up shop in Galvin's factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker.
Then Galvin went to a local banker to apply for a loan. Thinking it might sweeten the deal, he had his men install a radio in the banker's Packard.
Good idea, but it didn't work - Half an hour after the installation, the banker's Packard caught on fire. (They didn't get the loan.)
Galvin didn't give up. He drove his Studebaker nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City to show off the radio at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention.
Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that passing conventioneers could hear it. That idea worked; he got enough orders to put the radio into production.
WHAT'S IN A NAME
That first production model was called the 5T71.
Galvin decided he needed to come up with something a little catchier. In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix "ola" for their names - Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest.
Galvin decided to do the same thing, and since his radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it the Motorola.
But even with the name change, the radio still had problems: When Motorola went on sale in 1930, it cost about $110 uninstalled, at a time when you could buy a brand-new car for $650, and the country was sliding into the Great Depression. (By that measure, a radio for a new car would cost about $3,000 today.)
In 1930, it took two men several days to put in a car radio -- The dashboard had to be taken apart so that the receiver and a single speaker could be installed, and the ceiling had to be cut open to install the antenna.
These early radios ran on their own batteries, not on the car battery, so holes had to be cut into the floorboard to accommodate them.
The installation manual had eight complete diagrams and 28 pages of instructions. Selling complicated car radios that cost 20 percent of the price of a brand-new car wouldn't have been easy in the best of times, let alone during the Great Depression.
Galvin lost money in 1930 and struggled for a couple of years after that. But things picked up in 1933 when Ford began offering Motorola's pre-installed at the factory.
In 1934 they got another boost when Galvin struck a deal with B.F. Goodrich Tire Company to sell and install them in its chain of tire stores.
By then the price of the radio, with installation included, had dropped to $55. The Motorola car radio was off and running. (The name of the company would be officially changed from Galvin Manufacturing to "Motorola" in 1947.)
In the meantime, Galvin continued to develop new uses for car radios.
In 1936, the same year that it introduced push-button tuning it also introduced the Motorola Police Cruiser, a standard car radio that was factory preset to a single frequency to pick up police broadcasts.
In 1940 he developed the first handheld two-way radio -- The Handy-Talkie - for the U. S. Army. A lot of the communications technologies that we take for granted today were born in Motorola labs in the years that followed World War II.
In 1947 they came out with the first television for under $200.
In 1956 the company introduced the world's first pager; in 1969 came the radio and television equipment that was used to televise Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon.
In 1973 it invented the world's first handheld cellular phone.
Today Motorola is one of the largest cell phone manufacturers in the world.
And it all started with the car radio.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO the two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin's car?
Elmer Wavering and William Lear ended up taking very different paths in life.
Wavering stayed with Motorola. In the 1950's he helped change the automobile experience again when he developed the first automotive alternator, replacing inefficient and unreliable generators. The invention lead to such luxuries as power windows, power seats, and, eventually, air-conditioning.
Lear also continued inventing. He holds more than 150 patents. Remember eight-track tape players? Lear invented that.
But what he's really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation. He invented radio direction finders for planes, aided in the invention of the autopilot, designed the first fully automatic aircraft landing system, and in 1963 introduced his most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world's first mass-produced, affordable business jet. (Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school after the eighth grade.)
Sometimes it is fun to find out how some of the many things that we take for granted actually came into being!
It all started with a woman's suggestion.
By David Rutkowski, Class of 1967
"Hon, there's a noise coming from the dryer."
Those are words no man wants to hear his wife say, but Connie just said them, and I said, "Crap," or a word to that effect. But then she added that it was a scratching noise, and the dryer was not running at the time. Much better. Must be a bird had gotten in to the vent somehow, could not get back out, and was flapping around in the metal vent pipe. Piece of cake.
The dryer is in the basement, and the vent goes up the wall exiting to the outside several feet above the dryer. I astutely figured that any critter in the pipe that hasn't been able to navigate up the pipe and out the vent opening would quickly scoot out the bottom if I disconnected it from the dryer. So I snatched an empty sunflower seed bag from the garage and loosened the clamp connecting the pipe to the dryer. Pulling the pipe free I quickly placed the bag over the open end. Whoops, nothing in the pipe. Either Connie was hearing things, or the bird was somewhere inside the dryer.
I wasn't that keen on poking my hand into the vent opening to grab an animal that may be pecking holes in the back of my hand, so I positioned the bag at the vent and instructed Connie to turn the dryer on for a couple seconds. That should flush out the bird! Well, it did but didn't. It did flush out, but it wasn't a bird. It was a chipmunk. I discovered that as soon as the rodent scurried out of the vent and into the bag, and then, in order, out of the bag, up my right arm, down my arm, onto my thigh, down my leg, and onto the floor. At the same time the chipmunk was doing his thing, I was simultaneously jumping back in surprise and exclaiming "Gaaaa," and then, in order, slapping at my right arm with my left hand, slapping my thigh with one hand and slapping my leg with the other. And pretty much doing all of this while backpedaling away from the dryer, and being an inch behind the chippie in every move.
The escapee from a Walt Disney cartoon hit the ground running. He had the disadvantage of never being in our basement before (I assume), while I had the advantage of knowing the territory. This wasn't that much of an advantage because he was able to scurry along three walls with me lumbering behind and never catching up. I thought I had him cornered but he left me flat-footed at the water heater and scampered into my workshop. For the second time that day I exclaimed "Crap" or a word to that effect. I can' find the correct size wrench in my workshop. How would I find a chipmunk?
Connie, being the supportive wife she is, was trying to stifle her chuckling. But wasn't successful. At least not until I reminded her there was now wildlife residing in her house. Up to now, she thought that was one aspect of our marriage that was far in the past.
The first fourteen years of our marriage found us living in an old farm house in Bradford County that dated back to the 1800'. It was a large and sturdy abode, but one that did not try very hard to keep its residents to the human variety. Over the years, we had honey bees in the walls, flying squirrels in the chimney, and gray squirrels in the attic, bats flying around upstairs, bats flying around downstairs, birds flying up the staircase, and woodpeckers wood pecking on the siding. My son, Ryne, was sleeping in bed one night and was stung by a wasp, in January. We thought maybe the place was haunted.
I looked out the kitchen window one morning and there on the back porch, eating out of the dog bowl, was a fox, a young, red fox, with mom sitting patiently in the yard waiting for junior to finish his breakfast. And, interestingly enough, eating out of the same bowl at the same time was our dog, Jenny. The fox finished his meal, and slowly walked back into the woods with mom, while Jenny sat on the top step and watched them. Later that week we watched the fox and Jenny playing in the back yard, tossing a dried up woodchuck carcass into the air and chasing each other with it. I am not making this up.
My wife handled all of this with calm acceptance. But the one thing that really frosted her cheerios was mice. Our house was like the Mecca of mousedom. Mice ran through with reckless abandon, and our attempts to impact their population were futile. The cat caught mice. The dog caught mice. I bet even the fox nabbed a few. We had 36 traps set at one point. But still the mice prevailed. (I did not use poisoned bait because I did not want the cat or dog to bite into a De-Con filled rodent). The base cabinets in the kitchen were empty, because the mice would romp around anything stored there, so all of our pots, pans, food, etc., were kept in the wall cabinets. Then I saw a small ladder being built out of Popsicle sticks and started to worry that even that might not be safe. But it was just my daughter's school project.
I got my hiking boots out of the closet one day, and they were full of dry dog food. Obviously, the mice were saving for a rainy day. The only place free of mice was the basement. And that was because of the large black snake that lived there.
So we moved.
That wasn't really the reason we moved, but it sure was nice to be in a new house where there were no cluster flies in the attic, it was safe to store anything in any cabinet, and no wildlife was traipsing around in our domain, that is, until now.
I figured the chipmunk would not be willing to saunter out the front door, even if asked politely, so I had to come up with something. At first I planned on letting the cat, Webster, do his thing, but Connie was sure that he would either chase the chipmunk up the basement stairs or catch the rodent and proudly carry it up the stairs and plop it at her feet to show off his catching skills. In either case the chipmunk would most likely then be loose in the main living area, which would undoubtedly cause Connie to experience flashbacks and signs of PTVD (Post-Traumatic Varmint Disorder).
This could only mean that a trap was called for. I did not really want to kill the chipmunk. We enjoy watching them scurry around the deck, taking sunflower seeds back to their woodsy homes. So I would try to live-trap the critter and return him to the outdoors, where he could scurry around doing chipmunky things until a hawk swoops down and eats him.
I like hawks.
A box trap would seem to be an obvious choice, but the mesh sides of the trap would allow the small chippie to simply squeeze back out after eating the bait. So I came up with a gem of a plan. I would take a 5-gallon bucket and make a ramp from a 2x4 from the ground to the lip of the bucket. Kernels of corn would be placed up the ramp and in the bottom of the bucket. The animal would follow the corn trail up the ramp, spy the corn in the bucket, and leap down for a feast, thereby becoming trapped in the bucket and freed only when I triumphantly carried the bucket outside and sent the little guy scurrying into freedom. Or into a hawk, whichever came first, except it didn't work. The chipmunk followed the plan by eating the corn laid on the ramp, but either was too full or too smart to attempt to jump into the bucket. For crying out loud, he crawled into a dryer vent opening, but is afraid of a big bucket? For three days I tried this scheme, and for three days he thwarted my efforts. Time to get serious. Time to forget leniency, and have the governor sign the death warrant. I went to Tractor Supply and for $6.95 obtained "The Better Rodent Trap", subtitled "It works." It did. Using peanut butter as bait, I set the trap and placed it near the dryer, figuring the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. Ten minutes later I heard a SNAP. Yes, this trap is so big it snaps in capital letters. As they say in Mexico, "Got heeem."
I did feel a little bad about it, but there was no other way. He wouldn't jump in the bucket, and I was starting to get a little tired of hearing about chipmunk poop on the floor. Seems they are not housebroken.
So, after repairing the screen on the dryer vent, I'm hoping our house remains critter free. And I'm hoping Connie doesn't realize there is probably chipmunk poop in the dryer.
Someone posted this to Facebook the other day. I thought it pretty much fit Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools.
I was listening to Pandora yesterday and randomly-so, so randomly-Garth Brooks' song “Friends in Low Places” came on. From the first few notes, I was instantly transported back to my rural high school gym, line dancing in a PE uniform and hating my life. But you know what? In that moment I also felt a pang of nostalgia for my tiny Oregon high school (my graduating class had a whopping 75 people in it), and I thought about all the other strange and awful and wonderful experiences I had there. So in honor of Garth Brooks and muddy trucks and parties in the woods, here are 10 ridiculous things that happen at rural, small town high schools . . .
1. You graduate with the exact same people you met on the first day of kindergarten. Small towns tend to be insular places, which means-at the risk of sounding dramatic-few new people come in, and no one ever leaves. Your class roster doesn't change much in 12 years (which is why the arrival of a “new kid” is such a momentous event), and it's not uncommon to go to prom with the kid who barfed on you in second grade.
2. Half the people in your class have the same last name. And at least three-quarters of the class are cousins. In fact, the yearbook might be more accurately titled “the family tree.”
3. The FFA wields an impressive amount of power and popularity. Whether or not your family actually lived anywhere near a farm, it was a smart move to join the Future Farmers of America. This powerhouses could make or break you.
4. Eighth grade promotion is as lavish as many college graduations. I will never forget the time my friend Laila and I were discussing the details of our 8th grade promotion dresses and hairstyles in front of our friend Lydia, who went to a big school in the city. “What is 8th grade promotion?” she asked, and we were both stunned. “It's when you graduate from middle school and you buy an expensive gown and get your hair done and walk down the aisle and get a diploma,” we explained. Lydia was totally perplexed. “Who cares about 8th grade?” she asked. People in small towns, that's who. I got rid of my college graduation gown, but you damn well betcha my promotion dress is still hanging in my closet.
5. “The woods” is a perfectly normal location for a party. Want to get drunk and shoot guns and make out? So does everyone else! Meet us in the forest half a mile off the highway-take a left at the big rock.
6. Line dancing is part of the Physical Education curriculum. Forget yoga and archery, when it's time for PE, you put on your crusty uniform and line up in the gym to do the grapevine to the “Watermelon Crawl.” And trust me: when you're 26 and go on a road trip and find yourself in a rural dive bar with a juke box, these skills will come in handy.
7. Getting stuck behind a tractor is a perfectly good excuse for being tardy. Driving a tractor to school is an even better excuse (“I tried to get here in time for the test, but my combine tops out at 26 MPH.”)
8. The football coach is also your history teacher and the librarian is also the lunch lady. Teachers at small schools have to wear many hats. Some of those hats are not necessarily supposed to be worn simultaneously, but whatever.
9. If you have older siblings, your reputations begins wherever theirs left off. Here's how it works: on the first day of class, the teacher is doing roll call and they get to your last name and pause. They look up and say, “Any relation to (older sibling's name)?,” you say yes, and then the teacher will either inform you that your sibling is a perfect human specimen you can never live up to, or sigh dramatically and mutter, “Oh good, another one.” Upperclassmen will also make sure you inherit any of your sibling's nicknames. In my friend Rachel's case, this meant from the first day of high school on, she was known as “Little Chode.”
10. Senior pranks often involve farm animals and/or manure. Both are so plentiful, it just makes good sense to utilize them, you know?
See you all next issue!