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Friday, October 07, 2016

My First Classroom - Dorset School in West Penn Township

Harry visited his first school - Dorset School near Snyders PA

Map of my house - Dorset School - Snyders PA
This pictures was sent to me by Luella Reed (the baby in the picture).
The women on the left is Leah Wertman Fritz - my
first grade teacher

Last week Lulu and I visited Tamaqua PA to see friends and family and also to attend my 50th class reunion. I really enjoyed seeing my old classmates. We also enjoyed introducing our friends and family to Max Everhart - our third grandkid.

We had a few hours to kill before our plane left Allentown - so we drove around and looked at familiar sites.

I first attended school in September of 1954. I was 6 years old and had spent the first 6 years of my life in the farm house I was born in. It was very common then to be born at home. Dr Weissner charged $15 to come to the house and deliver me. Dad tried to be a coal miner and also run a 10 acre farm.

At the time West Penn School District was made up of a series of one room schools. I remember that sometimes a teacher taught all 8 grades in one room. By the time I was in school - they decided to put all the first graders in one school - second graders in another and so on. 1954 was also the first year they used school buses to take the kids to school. So I never walked to school in the deep snow storms. The school bus picked me up right at my door.

I went to the Dorset school - at the time it seemed far away - but I am guessing it was maybe 2 miles from home. My teacher was Leah Wertman Fritz. She was fresh out of teachers' college at Bloomsburg - and it was love at first sight for me. She ended up teaching in Tamaqua schools for  42 years. She used to have an alarm clock - that we had to be able to hear before we were dismissed for recess.

I only attended the Dorset School for one month. We moved into town for Mom and Dad to be closer to work. We sold the 10 acre farm - with house - barn - and out buildings - for about $3000.

To my surprise - the Dorset School is still standing. I attended 4 schools total  - and the Dorset School is the only one left standing. North Ward - Tamaqua Junior High - and the Tamaqua High School on High Street are gone. Today - the Dorset School is a garage and storage shed. Inside you can still see the green and white pine board paneling. The black boards are still in place. Two garage doors grace the eastern wall - you cannot see them from the road. It looks like it still could house my first grade.

I think this school and Mrs. Fritz determined my career. I just loved going there - playing with the other kids - learning - and showing off. When I turned 18 - I went to Kutztown State Teachers College - got my license - and spent 33 years teaching back in the Valley. Things seemed so much simpler then. I tried real hard - I wonder if I could hear that clock tick today.

You can see the school on this picture.

Dorset School
There were no big trees when I went here.

There was a coal stove in the left corner. The teacher tended it
Today - it is a storage shed and garage.

1 comment:

Bob Fritz said...

Like you, Harry, She was also the love of my life, as well. AND most certainly steered me through life...I believe she was only 19 or 20 years old when she started teaching at Dorset, as she skipped through the 3rd and 5th grades (they did that when she went to grade school)... and then graduated Bloomsburg in three. Her tombstone reads ' Teacher of Children for 42 years '(she was always proud of the kids she taught and helped get started on the road to learning) AND I have recently been going through her things which include pictures of everyone she ever taught (You are in there too, Harry!) ...she was teaching 3rd generation pupils of pupils...

In my biased opinion, she was a remarkable Mom, Teacher, and person who found her calling as a First Grade School Teacher. (she originally wanted to be a telephone operator ;) THANK YOU , Harry, for your kind comments and Post.

Bobby Fritz