It seems that my life has been ruled by the school calendar. The first day of school brings back memories of good friends and good times. When we were kids - Labor Day was a holiday that honored workers. In our little coal town - miners were organized into unions. Usually school started on the Wednesday after Labor Day. We did not have fall or spring breaks. We had the week off between Christmas and New Year - and the school year ended early in June if we did not have off too many snow days. Since most of us walked to school - snow did not stop us often. A school year was 180 days.
For my first 6 years - I lived in a farm house without plumbing on the side of the Appalachian Mountains. So the first school I attended was Dorset School. It is near the little town of Snyders PA. A school bus picked me up at my front door and drove the 2 miles to the school. It was a one room school with a coal stove and no indoor plumbing. I only spent a month there before we moved to the big city of Tamaqua. Mrs Leah Wertman Fritz was my teacher. This was September - 1954.
|North Ward School|
NORTH WARD SCHOOL
I remember my dad taking me to the North Ward School - class was already in session. My Mrs. Whetstone seated me behind Gary Miller - who would become a lifetime friend. While the teacher was not looking - Gary put a piece of candy in the pencil trough of my desk for me. The teacher admonished me with "Where did this come from?" I was there 5 minutes and already in trouble. "No candy."
I loved the 6 years from 1954 to 1960 in that school. There were 8 classrooms then - we did not use the basement. The grades were 1 - 2 -3 - 4 - 5 - 5 - 6 - 6. The extra 5th and 6th grades were for kids from South Ward.
My teachers were -
1 - Mrs. Whetstone
2 - Helen Folk (I later bought our building lot at 221 Catawissa St from her Mom for $3000)
3 - Jane Edwards
4 - Phyllis Wynn
5 - Dorothy Leiser
6 - Mary Kovalesky
The other two rooms were Jane Rieman and Veronica Haggerty.
During a leaky gas pipe incident - we shared the school with kids for Pine Street - going half days until the repairs were over. This school was across the street from St Jerome Church - now a parking lot.
|Tamaqua Junior High School|
TAMAQUA JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
From 1960 to 1963 - I attended 7th - 8th - 9th grade at this building on Broad Street on the banks of the Schuylkill River. We used to enjoy our sewage running in the river and people in Philadelphia drinking the same water after it passed through Reading and Valley Forge. What history.
This was the first time I went from classroom to classroom for lessons. We had gym - shop - art - music. Girls had home economics. I can still name all the teachers.
In 1962 - when Tamaqua had their famous undefeated football team - I was on the JV Team. I remember having a card saying I could attend games as a "participant" for free.
|Tamaqua High School|
In the fall of 1963 - I went to 10th grade in Tamaqua High School. In that fall - my English and Latin teacher - Paul Jewells died. A week later John Kennedy was assassinated. The Beatles became popular in America a few months later. I turned 16 in February of 1964 - got my driver's license - and sneaked my dad's car to school a few days. By the time I graduated in June of 1966 - the war in Vietnam was getting into full swing. I received a draft card that said 1-S - deferment for being in high school. At that time I chose to become a school teacher. I enrolled at Kutztown State Teachers College in the fall of 1966.
During the summer of 1969 - I got a job at the Bungalow Pool asa life guard - and met my future wife. In August of 1969 - I spent a day driving my new VW to Woodstock for a music festival. Lulu had to stay behind because her Mom would not let her go.
Ever since then - my years have started in September and ended in June. I graduated from Kutztown in June of 1970 - and took my one and only real job as a teacher at the Panther Valley School District. 33 years later I retired from that same job.
I experience my sons going away to college at Duke and Georgetown - every September and June I hauled their stuff to college and back in a trailer attached to my car. When I retired form teaching - Lulu was hired as professor at Florida State University and she just continued her commencement this year - teaching her new class yesterday.
I have a theory called September Shock. My idea is that the whole purpose of life is to never experience a September where you are not going back to school to enjoy learning - sporting events - parties - dances - lectures - concerts - etc - all the fun of starting over. Everyone gets new clothes - fresh notebooks and pens - maybe a new ride - new friends - and new experiences.
I am 70 now - and September commences. FSU has a new football coach that is 42 - as old as my son. He is instilling a hurry up offense and fresh defense.
Ironically - only one of my four schools is still standing.
Commencement - everything seems to be moving along as planned.