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Old Friends and Memories of First Grade

 

October 24, 2019

Make new friends, keep the old. The one is silver, the other is gold.

How many times did you hear that growing up? I have tried to find the author, but no one seems to know.

Most of us follow that advice. We have a few friends left over from childhood. We constantly make new friends. They are all valuable. Some come into our lives and quickly go. Others leave footprints on our hearts and we are never quite the same.

Probably the person I have known the very longest who is still living would be John Furry. He was born one month before me and we went to the same church so we must have been introduced at a very early age.

While John and I have lived very different lives, we still see each other occasionally at school reunion functions. When I started first grade in 1946, I only knew two other "kids" in my class. One was John and the other was Dorothy Snoeberger, who was the daughter of my parents' friends.

That year, we met Sally Barnes, who had long blonde braids and a splattering of freckles. She lived about a mile from the Furry's Mill area where both John and I grew up. Every year or couple of years, the three of us try to get together for lunch and a visit.

John is married to Marilyn and lives in State College. Sally is married to Dale Metzker and lives in Williamsport. This year, that was our destination and we had a delightful day having lunch and looking around this picturesque mountain town.

Memories shared

Memories are shared from those classroom days at Replogle Elementary. We were fortunate to have had a school with central heat, indoor plumbing, and a cafeteria with the best cooks Morrisons Cove had to offer. Not every rural child was that fortunate in 1946.

That was just one year after the war ended and the world was changing very rapidly. We weren't part of the baby boomers, but 1940 must have been a long cold winter because 1946 was the largest class to enter first grade at Replogle to that date.

Mrs. Miriam Brumbaugh was our teacher. This sweet, pretty lady certainly deserved a medal with 36 students in her class. That is 36 five- and six-year-olds who had never attended preschool or kindergarten. I am surprised we knew how to tie our own shoes. I know I always had trouble with my boots so Belva and Betty Baker helped me out with that task.

By the end of that first year, I could read quite well and knew my numbers and how to write them. I loved first grade and went home crying one day when the furnace wasn't working and we got out early. I didn't want to miss even a half day of school.

How Mrs. Brumbaugh kept order, I will never know. She was allowed to paddle and used that form of discipline only when it was deemed absolutely necessary. I had to stand outside the door a time or two for talking.

19 diplomas

As I look at my first grade picture, I see that out of the 36 first graders, only 19 received a diploma from the 1958 class of Northern Bedford High School. Some were held back, a few quit, and the rest moved from the area and transferred to other schools.

Jim Johnson (dec), Jim Gochnour, John Furry, Dorothy Snoeberger, Jerry Hershberger, Gary Furry, David Robinette, Darlene Gates, Wayne Kagarise, Linda Croft, Mona Teeter (dec), Sally Barnes, Betty Kagarise (dec), Betty Baker, Belva Baker, Judy Knepper, Mary Ann Clapper, Wayne Heck and myself were the ones who stayed together.

Today, of those living, Jim Gochnour and myself both live in the Bedford area. Dorothy resides in the northern part of the state, while Jerry Hershberger, Wayne Kagarise, Gary Furry and Betty Baker have all stayed in New Enterprise.

Mary Ann Clapper lives in Woodbury and Darlene lives in Martinsburg. Belva and Linda Croft are in the Everett area; Wayne Heck lives in Hopewell; and Judy Knepper, a retired teacher, lives in Virginia. David Robinette lives in Texas. Sally resides in Williamsport and John Furry in State College.

Only a few of us left the state and of those who did, all but two came back. As we chatted on our recent Williamsport trip, we realized what good kids we really were. We became responsible taxpaying citizens and no one was ever in jail. What more could you ask? As I have said before, we do know for certain we grew up in the best of times in the best of places.

We made friends that have lasted a lifetime.

 

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