The folks in the high school called us The Rat Pack. This is the Panther Valley Middle School faculty in Sept 1981. The picture was taken in the high school on inservice day. I just returned from spending a year in Orlando FL on a sabbatical leave. I was just assigned the duty of producing a yearbook. Let me try to name the teachers - front row - John Horvath (math) - Bob Henninger (social studies) - Susie Bortnick (gym) - Charles Depuy (math) - Harry Everhart (science) - middle row - Pip Rader (principal) - Bob Gelatko (gym) - Carol Rakos (library) - Lynn Sharpe (art) - Barbara Teno (4th grade) - Ellie Balliet (social studies) - Betty Dietz (English) - Joyce Reichard (English) - Ilona Zubek (science) - Frank DeFebo (English) - Claire Brookover (4th grade) - back row - Tim Havel (shop) - Ted Gauronsky (reading) - Mike Cerimele (reading) - Gwen Brimmer (4th grade) - Jim Szczecina (social studies) - Caz Kosciolek (guidance) - Mimi Reinbold (4th grade) - Dave Pikna (science) - Ann Fada (nurse) - Gene Zubey (kindergarten) - Marty Keenly (4th grade) - Elaine Katchur (home ec) - Jay Hoffman (math). I count 5 dead.
On my 55th birthday - I retired from teaching 33 years in the same school in Panther Valley. I was the science guy - and almost every 7th grader in the Valley had to spend a year with me - some spent many more.
I lived in Tamaqua PA and drove 5 miles to Lansford PA to teach in the old Lansford High School/Panther Valley High School/Panther Valley Middle School - now derelict lump. In hindsight - I had a very nice job - worked from 8 to 3 daily - taught 5 classes - had all the weekends - holidays - and summers off. I never had to work night shift. We had a union that fought for job protection - excellent medical insurance - good pay - and a wonderful pension plan. Some would say I was stuck in a dead end job - I would say I had a wonderful situation to raise my family.
The contract said that if I made it to 55 - I would retire with a full pension and medical insurance for Lulu and I until we got to be 65. I just reached that age and was introduced to Medicare. Lulu will still get free Blue Cross for 7 more years on my plan.
My retirement has allowed me to follow my lovely wife to her new job as a professor at Florida State University. For 30 years - we used to take folks on field trips to Florida promising that some day we would live here - so here we are.
For the past 43 years - I have had Blue Cross insurance. It included - medical - dental - eyeglasses - drugs. I never realized what a deal it was. When Medicare came - I was surprised that it did not cover everything. I found out I had to buy supplements to cover medications - dental - eyeglasses. They cost about $300 a month from Blue Cross. I probably sound like a crybaby - it is just like a kid that had everything covered by Mom and Dad for 23 years - then they have to get a job - rent an apartment - pay expenses for a car - all the things covered by their parents before.
Words cannot describe how great retirement has been. Lulu has been traveling all over the world with her job. She can pretty well go anywhere she wants - whenever she wants. We spend every summer in London when she teaches at the FSU campus there. I am able to go along by paying my plane ticket - in many cases I go free on FF miles.
Living in Tallahassee is great for entertainment. We attend most of the FSU sporting events - concerts - guest lectures. I honestly do not miss shoveling snow back home. We walk and bike almost every day.
We do miss friends and family back home. I have honestly never wished I were back in the classroom. I still have lots of contact with me former students and teachers online.
Times marches on. The only time you have left is what is ahead of you. It may be a year - it maybe be 10 or 20. My sister Gail Fritz just died last month - and yesterday my good friend Dr Ben Houser died. We appreciate our good health. We have no way of knowing what comes next.
That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest. ~ Henry David Thoreau