Fifty years ago, sports were all the rage, and at Jim Thorpe High School, basketball was king. In 1962, the Olympians won their league's state championship, and in 1963, came within two points of bringing home a second state title.
As Jeanne Sterling, now Jeanne Sterling Radley, was entering her September 1962 - June 1963 senior year at Jim Thorpe High School, she felt this year would be special, and so she began a scrapbook that by the end of the school year grew to three volumes.
"The scrapbooks represent the last year of my high school, the memories that I preserved that I wanted to look back at a few more times in my life," Jeanne said. "It represented a big part of my high school life, the last year."
Jeanne has had the scrapbooks in her attic for these past 50 years, occasionally taking them out when she chanced upon them, typically when she was up in the attic retrieving things like Christmas decorations, or when she wanted to remember the 54 members of her graduating class.
She is donating three scrapbooks to the Dimmick Memorial Library in Jim Thorpe "to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our graduation, because the 50th anniversary of our graduation will be in June of this year," she noted.
Do you remember September 1962? The top five songs on the hit parade were: Sherry, Sheila, the Loco-Motion, Rambling Rose and The Girl From Wolverton Mountain. The students were returning to Jim Thorpe High School - still talking about winning the State Championship 51 - 40 over Clarion. Could they do it again?
On September 5, 1962, Jeanne created the first page of a scrapbook, giving it the title "FOOTBALL" and attaching three articles: two articles about the red, white and blue Olympian's football team preparing for the gridiron season; and a seemingly unrelated ticket to "ADMIT ONE YOUNGSTER of school age to CARBON COUNTY FAIR". The ticket offered discount rides for 15 cents, a bicycle raffle in front of the "Freak" show, and a chance to compete in the Twist contest.
"I wanted to keep track of everything for my senior year, so I started cutting out all the sports information beginning with football, then basketball, and on to the state championships. I included the songs that were popular that year, graduation pictures, the school plays, the class trip, and anything pertaining to the Olympians."
"Scrapbooking wasn't particularly popular then - it was my own thing. I don't think anyone else did it, at least I didn't know of anyone else. I wanted it as a memento of my last year."
As basketball season approached, Jeanne's interest focused on what she hoped would be another run for the state championship.
"I went on all the fan buses to the local games at Summit Hill, Lehighton, Nesquehoning and Lansford. For the 1962 championship game against Clarion, "Six of us piled in my girlfriend's station wagon. We went out there for the game and came back the same day. There was a big trip commingled away from Jim Thorpe to Pittsburgh and back to Jim Thorpe in one day."
In 1963, the Olympian basketball team returned to the state finals, losing by two points, 43 to 41, to Rothrock in Bethlehem. The headlines read, "Jim Thorpe Accepts Defeat", and featured a photograph of Mayor James Walker congratulating coach Ken Kline of the Jim Thorpe High School Basketball team for a "job well done".
The scrapbooks recall memories of a May 3 class trip to Radio City Music Hall to watch the Rockettes and see the movie Bye-Bye Birdie, and a May 10's class trip to see the Broadway show No Strings. The high school also produced its own play Great to Be Crazy, in which Jeanne was in the cast.
As 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the Jim Thorpe High School graduating class of 1963, she thought that it would be a wonderful time to share her scrapbooks. She discussed this with her brother, Jack Sterling, who suggested donating them to the Dimmick Memorial Library where his wife, Susan Stirling, is the librarian.
"I've seen people in the Dimmick library on the microfilm machines looking up the old sports, especially the history of the 50s through the 60s and into the 70s. It seems to be popular," Jack Sterling explained.
"I am sure we have plenty of local people are interested in what happened," said Susan Sterling. "This will supplement our collection of Jim Thorpe High School yearbooks."
"It might not be specifically for the people graduated in 1963," Jack Sterling added. "It might interest their children or their grandchildren. How else can they see a picture of grandpa when he was in high school playing basketball?"