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People recall Good Old Days at one-room school celebration

  • Dorothy Graver Strohl
    Dorothy Graver Strohl
Published October 11. 2011 05:01PM

The Kibler School Committee and Towamensing Township Historical Commission co-sponsored a program at the one-room Kibler School located on Pohopoco Drive, Towamensing. The purpose was to interview people who attended the one-room schools and record the information to be archived.

Roy Christman, who attended Pine Run, Kibler and Strohl's Valley schools, was master of ceremonies.

He said over the summer the schoolhouse was repaired and painted. Weatherboards had to be replaced and under the vestibule a beam was so wet water could be squeezed out by hand.

Richard George, the painter, informed the committee of the work that had to be done and then helped make the repairs. His father, Adam George, was a teacher in the township.

The last two teachers from the one-room schools - Thelma Ace and Loretta Hessinger - passed on since the last meeting.

Christman said the committee wants to collect as much data as it can about the communities of the one-room schools and store it correctly. Too much has been filed where it is not readily found and protective storage was not done.

Paul Hoppel had papers to fill out by attendees of the one-room schools who did not want to speak or be interviewed.

Christman said the historical commission is an official part of the township with monthly public meetings. Karl Rolappe is the chairman.

Rolappe said the commission was started in January 2009. Before that the three founders, Christman, Curt Beers and Tom Newman, had begun the work of collecting information about historic structures and sites in the township.

Christman and his sister, Kay Gilbert, had provided 25 antiques and people were asked to try and complete a list with those for which they knew the use. Ruby Voorhees was the winner naming 21 of the 25.

Inside the schoolhouse pictures were displayed from every school except Minehart. The committee wanted help identifying the people.

Connie Bieling brought a scanner to scan items brought to the program so they could be returned immediately.

Christman said one of the inspirations for the project was Polk Township's project of completing a database of every child who attended Polk Township High School.

Mary Beth Beers, who helped with archiving in Palmerton, told how materials should be stored. Anything not on display at the Little White Church or Heritage Center is stored in the municipal building where the Palmerton Area Historical Society has been given space. She said Palmerton Borough has been good about asked if anything is needed.

George Ashman accepts new acquisitions; dates them with year, month and day they are received; gives each article a number and lists the number of articles in a lot. Betsy Burnhauser adds information about where an item will be stored. With newspaper articles the first step is to make a copy because they are fragile.

Items are stored in archival quality (non-acid) plastic bags or covers.

The first speaker was Dorothy Graver Strohl who said she started at Pine Run,

Teachers had a hard job. Eighth grade boys were sent to Stouts to get water and would often bring dead rats. She said her class was the first to go to Palmerton High School and described the town students as snobs. Those who had started high school in Lehighton were allowed to finish there.

Ruby Berger Voorhees attended the Greenzweig School. She said it must have been built there because the family had the most kids. Others brought their lunches but the Bergers had to go home and did not want to. She was there for grades one to seven and then finished in Strohl's Valley. She recalled that no one had fancy clothes. Five of her family were attending the program.

Jim Shafer began school at Delaware Elementary, Palmerton, for grades K through three. The family lived in the Steinmetz Hotel, site of the present Spillanes. When the hotel was going to be sold they were given a month to move, and made that move to Towamensing. Leon George picked him up and took him to the Greenzweig School.

Eddie Eckhart was the teacher. He liked corporal punishment, said Schafer. A switch was kept behind his desk. One day he pulled it out and found he had only a little stick. The boys had chopped it up. Eckhart got so mad and red-faced the students worried about him.

Teacher Adam George would leave and tell the students to just lock up when the bus came or he'd leave a message saying he'd be late in the morning. "He trusted us," said Shafer. "We had a quality education in the one-room schools."

At the end of eighth grade tuition was paid for high school until the jointure was formed. Mrs. Alice Bennet was remembered as a substitute teacher.

LaRue Stout Meinhart attended Lovatt School. She said, "There is something about the one-room school. You picked up learning from older classes. We had a lot of fun, a great community."

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