September 27, 2022

Letter: Memories of Washington and Lincoln Schools

Remember Washington and Lincoln — not the presidents, but the schools? They are only memories, while Emerson Hough and Woodrow Wilson remain. Aurora Heights, Thomas Jefferson and B.C. Berg Elementary schools have been added during the past 50 years, with much needed additions and improvements now in the works.

B.C. Berg would be glad to see other additions in progress for the Junior High .... now known as Berg Middle School, named in his honor. “Pop” Lynn would also be pleased to see the modern new locker room addition out at H.A. Lynn Field, named in his honor. Both of these gentlemen served our community well for so many years!

How about some of these names? Thompson, Ramsey, Gullette, Forshay, Reed, Chism, Hansuld, Milligan, Chism, Douthart, Eidahl, Oberman, Sykes, Grout, and Brown only to mention a few? These teachers hold all kinds of memories as we look back to our days of climbing those senior high steps, traveling the hallowed halls, and sitting in their classrooms. Charity Brom just recently passed away at 103 years of age. At the time of this writing a few others such as Harold Elliott and Phoebe Wilcox are still in town.

Education was taken as a pretty serious matter back in those days, as It is today. But, teachers exercised a little more physical discipline when necessary. Do you ever remember getting your knuckles rapped, or a crack on the side of your head with a ruler if you were caught too many times chewing gum, talking, or making some wisecrack? If you don’t, then perhaps you were in the “perfect student” category.

Some of the male teachers were a little more liberal. Mr. Hansel used to put out the warning that anyone who didn’t have their assignment finished Monday morning was going to get the paddle. Mess up too often on a football play with coach Eidahl, and you got the belt. At other times in sports you might be told to bend over and grab your ankles. You knew what came next. Cruel and inhuman treatment? Or was it really? We knew one thing almost for sure. Get in trouble at school, and you were generally in worse trouble at home. Our parents, with few exceptions backed up the teachers.

Class Rings and Pins — There was big controversy around school during our junior and senior years regarding a new styled Newton class ring and pin. It was quite a departure from the old traditional design which Keith & McLaughlin Jewelers provided for decades on end. Most everyone stuck with tradition.

Senior girls were presented a sterling silver teaspoon as a gift by Keith Mclaughlin, in their own particular pattern. This, of course, was to encourage their purchase of sterling table service at a later date. Switzers gave each girl a miniature cedar chest with a little key, and of course had many styles of full size cedar chests (hope chests) available.

John McNeer

Newton