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Non-educational Escapades of the One Room School House

August 25, 2009
Carol Shetler

Some memorable non-educational escapades recalled by me when I was a former student at Eight Square School, include cinch belt dropped in privy and stuffing grass in a first graders underwear.

Elasticized cinch belts must have been in fashion during the early 1950s otherwise I wouldn't have been traumatized when my gold clap white belt fell deep into the bowels of the privy.

The event didn't occur during recess or lunch time, but during study hours when privileges to the outdoor necessary enclosure were permitted to one student at a time.

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Pehaps I imagined mother would be upset with my recklessness, at any rate the truth had to be revealed for surely my younger sister would tattle.

The incident was reported to teacher Martha Kahler Neufer who in turn recruited Warren Fenstamacher to resolve the situation. Necessity was the mother of invention when it came to the method of extraction. A coat hanger attached to roping was lowered to "fish out" the item. I don't recall the belt suffered much as it was taken home, laundered and again worn.

The "grass in the panties" episode was a joint effort by several girls whose identies over time have grown murky and better left so as to protect the guilty.

The dastardly deed occurred shortly after school resumed one fall. Evidentially grass in the schoolyard was neglected over the summer for cuttings now resembled a straw field.

The innocent target was Twila Koch, a first grader and the youngest of several children in the Lawrence Koch family. I think the group considered Twila a "whiney butt" at any rate we began gathering dry grass clippings for stuffing inside the underwear beneath her dress. I don't know what we were thinking, we should have predicted wails would bring her siblings to the rescue. We were questioned why we did it but I don't recall punishment if any.

Of the outdoor games, baseball seemed the favorite. Two of the older students, Loretta Wallis and Carl Reese, were often designated captains. To determine who chose first, a bat was thrown to one, afterwhich their hands grasp the handle one upon the other until it could no longer be held. In this instance it was good for the one "left holding the bat" for they chose first. My attitude toward baseball was "ho hum" yet enthusiasts among us inclued Fraley brothers George and Carl.

George was left handed, both in writing and batting, so outfielders would move making adjustments anticipating direction of a south-paws drive. Carl would hunker close to the ground, shifting his weight from one leg to another readying to grab bunts.

The edge of the ball field dropped off in a deep slant onto the road. Often a wardward ball would bounce down the hill, across the road and into the woods. It was simply expected an older boy would retreive and put it back in play. Oh those brave young men who saved the fair maidens from the dangerous road and over extension of the run.

Mrs. Neufer once said our class was the most numerous she'd taught up to that point in her career. Having been born at the onset of WWII we were dubbed "the war babies."

In 2010 it will be 50 years since member of my class graduated at Hughesville. As our anniversary approaches we're attempting to recall those detoured from us. Among them were Carl Ploch whose mother Helen married Elwood "Shorty" Hilner then moved to the Millville area.

Gary, youngest of the Louis Bennett children moved back to Muncy nearer the father's employment with Tidewater Pipeline Company.

Moving to and graduating from Montoursville, Ann Smith had been with us from third through ninth grade.

Lena Koch and Donna Reese graduated with the class of 1958 due to the teacher advancing them two grades.

Moving on to 1960 were Warren Fenstamaker, Carl Fraley, Carol Sones and Norma Vandine.

After finishing sixth grade in the spring of 1954, Opp School closed and students combined with those at Eight Square. Opp teacher Lelia Snyder was assigned to Eight Square which remained open two years before closure.

When we met with others our age at Hughesville, Moreland was also represented by Opp School student Mary Dirk as well as Frenchtown's James Richart.

What became of these young wide-eyed students of yesteryear will hopefull be answered as the class of 1960 prepares a biography booklet. Sadly those detoured won't be included. If you have information please contact us.

Ann Smith Burk retired as an anesthesiologist in the neo-natal surgery unit at a Harrisburg Hospital.

Recently I was introduced to Gary Bennett, now of Hughesville and husband of Picture Rocks native Dot King.

Warren Fenstamaker continues to reside in Moreland on the farm of his youth and volunteers with the Muncy Creek Fire Police. He can often be seennear disaster scenes directing traffic. I can't help but wonder if one of his first disasters was retreiving a cinch belt from the bowels of a privy at a one-room school.

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