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Memories of Slingerlands Elementary School

As Slingerlands Elementary School celebrates 75 years, we want to hear from you! Current and former students, staff members, parents, friends and neighbors are encouraged to share their memories of Slingerlands Elementary School. All memories will be posted here throughout the year. Share your memories via email at

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November 1977

classroom CROP Nov 1977

Slingerlands Class of 1924

1587 class of 1924 slingerlands

Slingerlands 4th and 5th Grade 1921

1586 slingerlands circa 1921 4 & 5 grade

Shultes Miller 5th grade

1194 slingerlands school shultes miller 5th grade CROP

1st Graders

1193 front school 1st graders

Mac Bride Kelly Hale 6th grade

1192 slingerlands Mac Bride Kelly Hale 6th grade CROP

Dave Murphy’s Memories

This song was sung at the end of each school year.

This song was sung at the end of each school year.

Dave Murphy 1977-2000

Dave Murphy 1977-2000

Slingerlands Photo

A snowy day.

A snowy day.

Mrs. Pfeil’s Second Grade Class – 1973-74

Submitted by Ms. Lisa Whalen


Mrs. Volk’s Fourth Grade Class – 1960

Submitted by Mr. Rob Longley

Mrs. Volk's Class

Afternoon kindergarten class – 1949-50

Submitted by Mr. Rudy Zwicklbauer: “That’s me, first row, left…Rudy Zwicklbauer, fourth in the first row with dark hair: Cheryl Maxell Vieira second on top: Jimmy Hamlin fifth on top: Dick Ableman. His Mom was a long time teacher and they lived across the street.”

Slingerlands GS afternoon kindergarten June 13 1950

Hayes Family- 1957

Little girl in the front – Diane Hayes DeVoe, the girl behind her – Bonnie Hayes Robbins, the little boy – Charles “Chuck” Hayes, the older woman behind the boy – Gladys Andrews (the nanny), the woman to the far right – Virginia Hayes (mom), and the older girl in the front – Gail Hayes.

Hayes Family: three little girls, a little boy, mom and nanny

Submitted by Kristi Flanagan Malsan. Fourth and fifth graders visit the State Capitol in April 1976.


Submitted by Amy Price:

Class picture DARE class picture teacher with student students at pit party

Submitted by Michele Vagianelis:




Other memories

Nya Santeliz: “Out of all my wonderful years at Slingerlands I liked 5th grade the best. I enjoyed the musical “The Knight the Castle Rocked” and Nature’s Classroom. I had lots of fun experiences with my teacher Mr.Betor and my classmates. One of my favorite memories is when we had a surprise birthday party for him during our recess time. Some students baked a beautiful cake and we had a great time. Being at Slingerlands was one of my best experiences and I learned a lot of my values there.”

Casey Canistraci Vattimo: “Grandparents Day at Slingerlands was my Grandpa’s favorite day of the year. The teachers and staff always made it special for us as students and, of course, our special guests!”

Caldonia Dickerson Knox: “I gave my crush a thumb drive of Taylor Swift’s love songs, and got in trouble????

Jill Kelly (Usher): “I remember field days. The box lunches were so exciting!”

Anne Mineau Manzella: I remember beginning after the school year began in 4th grade, due to my family moving into Delmar, when a very spunky Mrs. McNiven and her student teacher Miss Forte welcomed me to class.  Gwen, Brooke, and Deanna became my first classroom friends.  On the far left of the building I recall walking down the staircase that turned down to the right to get to music and the cafeteria. I loved being in our grade 5 musical, Alice in Wonderland as the doormouse under the direction of our favorite Mrs. Spelich! Gym classes with Mr. Fuller and Mr. Hodges were also very memorable  My goodness, for one’s birthday, we were made to crawl under everyones legs standing in a long row, to be spanked going underneath…. Can’t see THAT being part of the PE curriculum today! ha ha!  Swinging so high on the old school metal swing set, you’d think you’d fly into a tree… Making “houses and forts in the roots of the trees at recess, also a fun memory… Come to think of it there was a time when making little houses for figurines in our desks was also a trend.  We must have done some work in there too right? :-)Mr. Xeller and Ms. Solnick for 5th grade and some of our friends were in Mrs. Lutkus’ 4/5 combo class.  And that Mrs. Spelich out did herself again and again annually having us belt out “Who put the overalls in Mistress Murphy’s chowder every year for then principal, Irish Mr. Murphy!  Good old days for sure!!”

James Dolder: I played one of the Wright brothers in a class play sometime in the 80’s.”

Jennifer Drew Miller:I met my best friend in Kindergarten, we have been friends for 55 years! And then 2 other very close friends in 3rd grade! Favorite teacher would be 3rd grade Mrs. Ruth Bates — also we were the last class to attend 6th grade in the elementary school- as the Middle School was created–and that year Slingerlands was the only 6th grade that did NOT move to the Middle School! I will look for photos and send them in! Looking forward to this!”

Emily Spooner Smith:Mrs Lutkus created an incredible 4th grade year for us. From mock government to a Bill of Rights play, her creativity, humor, and passion permeated everything and made school come alive. She is the reason I am a teacher today!”

Lili Kawas:Where do I begin?  My 6 years at Slingerlands were the best school memories ever!  From Mrs. Kallop’s kindergarten class where we would run to get the pink, yellow, and blue princess dresses during play time, to Mrs. Foley’s 1-2 class where we hatched chicks and (if we misbehaved) had to put our names into the sad face on the board.  Then in second grade with Miss End and her yellow mushroom chair that you could sit on if it was your birthday (along with Gaylord the Frog as your buddy for the day) and Mrs. Hermann’s third grade nature walks and drying fruit!  Fourth grade was Mrs. Lutkus’ class (4-5) where I held my first elected class office – Treasurer and missed out on being a finalist in the spelling bee because I spelled “ascend” wrong.  Finally came fifth grade with Mrs. Solnick – whom I loved!  She was tough, but I learned so much (and my parents were thrilled that she was strict!).  We can’t forget Mrs. Musgrove who always reminded us to “sit on our bumbosities” and “keep all six legs on the floor”, or bringing cupcakes to Mr. Murphy’s office on your birthday (and singing to him every St. Patrick’s Day).  But…Slingerlands would NOT be Slingerlands without Mrs. Spelich!  EVERY school needs a music teacher like her!  From going to her classroom in the basement (hoping to grab that coveted seat near the yellow ladder) and playing musical instruments, to singing “Skin and Bones” (?) and screaming “BOO!” at the end, to the eternal songs that will forever bring a tear to my eye when I think about them (Music Brings People Together; all of the songs sung on St. Patrick’s Day; anything from The 1890 Music Hall Revue) – she was a priceless treasure that I think about everytime I bring my students to their music room, or hear a certain song on the radio, or meet up with “The Slingerlands Girls” that I have known since kindergarten!  Perhaps the best thing to ever come out of Slingerlands Elementary School – are the AMAZING friendships that I still have with so many of my friends from those six years (and beyond)!  Some of us try to get together (as often as time permits) to reminisce about the “good ole days”  and catch up on each other’s lives.  Somehow we always end up channeling Mrs. Spelich – the latest example was a brunch last fall at West Point, where we all ended up singing Music Brings People Together (acapella – and we didn’t think we were that loud).  We were hysterical when we heard some people even applauding!  Hahaha!  Thank you Slingerlands – for helping to make me the person, friend, and teacher I am today!”

Brenda Winne: “Mrs. Terko taught me to love Math even while our classroom was a gym/library/other unknown uses during the construction. I remember bringing home stones in my kneecaps from sliding down the hill.”

Carol Roberts:  “I remember a small group of classmates in 3rd grade going to the old WRGB studios to do a short science presentation, staring at the red light on the camera and having my mind go blank! In 4th grade we must have been studying ancient cultures because I remember being part of a group that painted Egyptian scenes on the big classroom windows.”

Diane Hayes DeVoe: “I remember being in Mr. Bill Morrison’s 6 grade class on November 22, 1963. The Principal came to the door and he stepped out. When he returned, he had tears in his eyes. He then, explained to us that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. The school dismissed all the students that afternoon. Everyone was glued to their television set (if they had one, back then) for the next four days to watch the televised funeral. To this very day, whenever I am asked “Where were you on 11/22/1963″, I can always answer immediately where I was and how I heard. It was a horrific day and etched in history.”

Jeanette Folger-Beebe: “It is hard to come up with just one memory from Slingerlands School… I remember so much and it was so special to be a part of such a wonderful grade school. I learned valuable lessons, an important one being mortality when we lost our classmate, Lisa Newell. I have friends now that I can count back to kindergarten. Songs that I sing to my sons and even my older son is among the Slingerlands alumni. I learned to love nature under Mrs Hermann, that I could succeed under Mrs Aidala, to take responsibility for my actions under Mrs. Rounds, not too run in class under Mrs. Kallop and how to buckle down under Mrs. Solnick. But my favorite memory is being dressed as a leprechaun by Mrs Spelich and leading Mr Murphy to the auditorium for our first St Patrick’s day celebration. We made the Knickerbocker News cover that day and I sang my first solo of “Too Ra Loo Ra”. That is my favorite.”

Sandra Tougher Dreihaup: “While I was there in the 50’s Miss Bida was principal.  I remember Mrs Brandt as one of my teachers as well as Mrs Ableman.  I was very active in Brownies and then Girl Scouts. One thing I will never forget was getting many bad causes of poison ivy from the field to the right side of the playground.”

Cheryl Lovelace: Favorite teacher was Mr. Caporta.  My best friends were Lisa Newell and Brook Kiner.  Fun times were Mr. Murphy’s Irish songs, like, “Who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s chowder” and “M-U-R-P-H-Y”.  I also loved Mrs. Spelich and the musical performances, like the “1890s Music Hall Review”

Bonnie Hayes Robbins: “I remember in 6th grade I sang my first solo in Mrs. Otis’s 5th and 6th grade choir.  That gave me my first exposure to performing in front of an audience and being alone in the spotlight and I was hooked! This in turn led me to a singing career and many memorable experiences and it all began in Slingerlands Elementary School!”

Robert Rotundo: “There are many fond memories from Slingerlands. The biggest was the joining of the 4th and 5th grade classes when I was in Mrs. Heath’s class. I remember very spacious classrooms and a lot exciting activities happening such as a daily student news “broadcast” (a group of students sitting at a desk giving the news in front of the rest of the class. I also remember the creation of a school store in which all 4/5 graders participated as everything from store booth owners to personel managers etc. We even had our own stock that we created ourselves. Another memory is a native indian cookout we had by the woods behind the soccer field at whichtime we buried a timecapsule. Always wondered what happened to it. Many great memories from the great students/friends, plays, music lessons, outdoor fairs, great teachers (Mrs Madaris, Mrs Bates, Mrs Lutkus, Mrs Spelich, Mrs Heath to name a few.”

The Patschurecks: My first experience was incredible. Mrs clement was my sons kindergarten teacher and school was half day. My son wanted to stay and have lunch at school. He was bummed that he had to go home early. Now that my youngest son will graduate Slingerlands,  We are proud to celebrate this special birthday. Slingerlands not only helped my sons grow , it also helped me grow. We are lucky and honored to be a part of this incredible second home.”

Claudia Cunningham: “I attended fifth grade at Slingerlands Elementary in 1955. I look back on it as one of the happiest school years of my life, with a teacher who really cared about the kids and who was brilliant and caring. Her usual uniform was a long sleeved Ship ‘n Shore white blouse, a circle pin, below the knee plaid skirt, short hair, ballerina flats and a sweet smile and soft voice. She kept the peace but was kind when she did it. Her name was Anne Emmons. She later married a classmate’s brother, Phil Campbell. Being a child of the Fifties was so good that it was beyond any point of reference for people who didn’t live through it. Our innocence was kept in tact in the elementary schools when we were little children. We were taught happy songs (one, about a boy and his dog), taught respect for police: “If some day you lose your way and don’t know what to do, go up to the kind policeman, the very first one you meet….” The actual school experience was one of being taught by really gifted people. Teachers had to be very, very schooled in what they taught, had high i.q.’s and studied for many years before embarking on a teaching career. Only the gifted could be teachers in the 1950s. The children were really taught the basics..reading, writing and arithmetic. We were prepared for life when we graduated. We were steeped in American history and loved the flag and God was part of our curriculum. No one fought, we were of all stripes and nationalities and we all got along. One particular favorite thing from that class that I recall was studying the early explorers (we even had a song about that), and I made a booklet about the early settlements, and since spices were very big imports to the new colonies I took some saran wrap and put little packets of cinnamon, cloves and other spices in the wrap and stapled it to one of the pages in my little booklet. It went over well. Playing on the playground with the autumn leaves burning nearby (yes, everyone could burn leaves in their yards then, and the smell brings back such lovely memories). The smell of pencils bring back Slingerlands Elementary. My favorites were Be Bop pencils by the American Pencil Company….number two point, good for writing. I’m sure no one remembers those, but I do. I remember playing with Ginny dolls after school. They were the “IT” doll to have then. Those dolls, were “the fashion leaders in doll society” and sold at The Den at the Four Corners and at the fancy card shop, The Marguerite, at the Delmar Plaza. I still have the dolls. The Den was located right next to the Delmar Bakery. The lovely smell of those chocolate cupcakes wafting through the streets still makes me swoon. What I remember most of the school was the smell of the new school bus..the leather seats… and I can see the bus driver who was like a kindly grandfather. I recall standing in front of my house wearing brown penny loafers, knee socks and carrying a box of Scripto ink to use with my new fountain pen. I remember Jean Sexton, the girl all the boys had a crush on, and Trudie Waldenmaier, Chris Plotz, Tommy Mueller, Karen Ferow…all those kids. All so nice. I remember the funny faces and laughter from that year, the thrill of being new in the world, when we all ate hope for breakfast. Miss Emmons! I told her sister in law just before Miss Emmons died how much I loved her and she told her. I loved being young living in the conservative little hamlet of Delmar when life was good, quiet, peaceful, when no one locked their door at night. It is a world gone away, but one I was privileged to have been part of.”

Douglas Hauser: “1965 – The Fifth grade play was memorable – The Planets.  I was big, so I was Jupiter.  Thom Engel was “old man” Uranus, and I demonstrated how he should walk stooped over with a shaky cane, and Mrs. Robbins made me director! In fifth grade, we also sang a lot of songs from “The Sound of Music”, which was out at the time, in a concert.  I still remember all the words and think of that concert when I hear the songs.

     1966 – Mr. Bill Morrison was my sixth grade teacher, and the best teacher.  He didn’t yell, but called you over with a crooked index finger if he wanted to “talk” (quietly) to you.  I now serve on the Board of Directors of the Heldeberg Workshop with him – fifty years of knowing him. 

     1963 – Mr. Baist was my student teacher in third grade.  His “identical twin brother” came in one day dressed as an African explorer.  We tried to catch him pretending to be his brother, but he held firm.  Later, I saw the “African explorer” dress-up kit (pith helmet, gun belt, etc.) on the top shelf of the “game closet” off the library. We knew all along!  Mr. Baist later became the “other” sixth grade teacher. Mr. Hungerford was the Physical Education teacher.  He came to work on a motor scooter – the only one I’d ever seen.  There was scary climbing to the top of the rope!, playing crab soccer, dodgeball, four-square on the blacktop, capture the flag, me high-jumping and sack race in the “Olympics”, kickball, etc., etc.  Mrs. Katie DePorte was on the playground at recess, my whole time there, and for many years afterward.

     1963 – Dr. Fernandez, a Cuban refugee, was the Art teacher in third grade, anyway.  She would come in and tell us that the primary colors were red, blue, and “jello”.  We would shake our heads and think “jello” was not a color! If we had a substitute teacher, it seemed to usually be Miss Van Wormer, an older lady, that called us “young whippersnappers.”  She wasn’t too nice!  Three Farms Dairy had little (probably 8 ounce) “cubes” of milk for 2 cents each – lunch was 25 cents, which included a milk.  If I “bought” I would get an extra milk, too, for a whopping total of 27 cents. Mrs. Otis hosted the “Music Literature Study Group” for musical students in the downstairs classroom up the steps, closest to the back door. The janitors were Mr. Irons and Mr. Herber, to be replaced by my classmate, Gary Powers and others. On November 22, 1963, I was sitting in fourth grade when Mrs. Lutkus came in and told us that Kennedy was shot.  We went home in shock and I watched TV all weekend. Televisions were wheeled in whenever a space shot went off. Duck and cover drills were held in the classrooms, where everyone crawled  under their desk and covered their heads, while the teacher turned out the lights and rolled down the blinds to protect against flying glass.    

I had a lot of great times at Slingerlands, and my wife worked there as an occupational therapist much later, so visiting her at work would “whoosh” me back.”

Kimberly Muncil: “My special memory involves a mountain lion. There had been news of a mountain lion in the Bethlehem area. So of course, any animal bigger than a cat and smaller than dog begins to look like a mountain lion when you want to see one. One day, as I was working with a group of four students in my remedial reading class, one of the students points out the window and says, ”A MOUNTAIN LION IS OUTSIDE!” I look out the window and I do see an animal… and it is bigger then a cat and smaller than a dog. But is it a mountain lion? I don’t think so. It quickly runs off into the woods before any of us really get a good clear look at it. But of course, in the minds of my students there was a mountain lion on the prowl! The “sighting” was reported to Mrs. Bonacquist and from that moment on I wished I had left the blinds closed in my room that day. The safety of our students always has to be top priority; and so precautions were quickly made. The Delmar police and animal control arrived at school and wanted to speak with “the teacher” who had spotted the mountain lion. (WHAT!! I DID NOT SAY I SAW A MOUNTAIN LION!) Channel six news arrived and also wanted to speak with “the teacher”. Thankfully, Mrs. Bonacquist handled that one. Of course, recess was cancelled and students were not allowed to walk home or out to the buses without escorts. Basically, we were in mountain lion lock down! I will never forget the chaos our school was in for the longest three hours of my career. After viewing many mountain lion mug shots, it was determined that what we saw was just a mangy fox. Needless to say, my colleagues didn’t let me live this down for quite some time.”

Bob Muncil: “Meeting my future wife at Slingerlands Elementary. In 2001 my youngest daughter (Kelly Muncil) was in 1st grade. Her teacher was (in her words), “ the great Mrs. Ferrentino.” But she needed some help reading so had started remedial reading. One day, my daughter asked me if I wanted to meet the reading teacher. Indifferently, I said sure and we walked down to Mrs. McCall’s room where I had a sudden realization that I needed to have further meetings with the reading teacher (I was thinking more like a candlelit dinner with just the reading teacher vs. going over sight words!) I arranged a meeting with Mrs. McCall and dressed like I was trying for a spot in GQ. I asked her out on a date a few days later and was told, “ I don’t go out with the parents of my students”. Easy enough, I then put Kelly on a 3-week cram course on sight words, Frog and Toad books and flash cards. Kelly was out of remedial reading in record time. I asked Mrs. McCall out again 6 months later and she said, “no thanks” – strike 2. From 1st grade thru 4th grade I sat on the couch in the lobby with Kelly before school each day to help her transition into our new lives as a 2 house family….and secretly I hoped each day I would see the reading teacher. I waited another year and asked her out again…her reply was; “I’ll call you if I ever want to go out” (code for LEAVE ME ALONE). Eventually, we did have a first date and I am happy to say that we fell in love, and we eloped this year. Thank you Slingerlands Elementary for letting me sit on the couch with my daughter until the reading teacher decided to go out with me….oh yea, and for the outstanding teachers, great facility, caring staff…all those secondary things as well!”

Kathleen Bragle: As a former “Slingerlands parent”, my memories are rich and varied.  Our three children attended this school and for me, Slingerlands was synonymous with music. Virginia Dale Spelich was the epitome of music at Slingerlands  She involved many children in her productions but the the weekly music classes were also top quality. If you walked into Slingerlands, you couldn’t help but notice the rows of photos  from past shows. She was a woman who expected and encouraged excellence not just for herself but from her students.  Our children loved her and she and I (I am a retired public school music teacher) became close friends through the years. To this day, I wear the cross she gave me around my neck – a treasured symbol of our friendship through the years.  For me – Slingerlands = Spelich.”

Tina (Bonanno) Sheehan: “I started at Slingerlands School in 1972 when I was 4 years old.  It was a “very special place”.  If you were there around that time please read along and see if you share any of my same memories.

In Mrs. Freeman’s Kindergarten class we made figure heads of important people in history.  I made Benjamin Franklin by stuffing a stocking and decorating it.  Mrs. Freeman hung them from the ceiling for a good part of the year and she made us all feel so proud of our work.  Our classroom was directly across from the library with lots of windows to the hallway so everyone could see our projects.

In Miss Foley’s FIRST grade class she used to play the guitar everyday.  Sometimes we would just rest and collect ourselves and other times we would have a sing along.  John Denver was one of our favorites.  One day my older brother Scott Bonanno had to go home from school because he had an allergic reaction to glue paste while working in Mrs. Rounds class.  Remember the paste?

In SECOND grade with Miss End we would have the opportunity to sit on her fury stuffed yellow mushroom stool when we were the daily reader.  My best friend Cindy Lovelace broke her arm and got to have a cast that we all could sign.  Everyday Miss End would turn off the lights and have us put our heads down on our desks for a few minutes.  I vaguely remember using a towel on the floor for a rest mat too.

In THIRD grade with Mrs. Bates I remember thinking it was so cool that President Jimmy Carter had a daughter who was my age and she lived in the White House.  We would read about them in our Weekly Reader.  I also remember when the glass tube of my sticky roll on cherry lip smacker broke inside my desk and got all over my papers.

FOURTH grade with Mrs. Lutkus was the best year.  She was so creative and fun.  I also met my lifelong best friend Denise Jadick and my husband Sean Sheehan in that class!!!  Mrs. Lutkus would build a floor to ceiling Iroquois tree house in the corner of the room that we used as a cozy nook for work and leisure reading.  It was a 4/5 class.  We lost a dear friend and classmate Patrick Edwards to leukemia.  I remember five of us class officers used to have our weekly officer’s meeting in the Janitor’s closet across the hall from our classroom.

I was in ROOM 5 with Mr. Xeller for FIFTH grade.  It was another good year having Denise Jadick and my future husband, Sean Sheehan, along with other good friends in my class.  The highlight of 5th grade was our overnight trip to Lawson’s Lake.

The highlights of my childhood memories at Slingerlands School are the Halloween Costume Parades, the end of the year carnivals, the annual concerts and fabulous musical theater productions put on by Mrs. Spelich.  Our second grade production of the Roaring 20’s was fun because I got to wear a yellow fringed flapper dress.  The Mikado was especially memorable because I actually died my hair black.  My most famous role was being the Plymouth Rock when I narrated the entire show from a crouched position under a paper mache rock structure!  I used to love to stop and say good morning to the principal.  First it was the very sweet and fashionable Mrs. Lowe.  We were so sad to have Mrs. Lowe leave us but the addition of Mr. Murphy was a happy and pleasant surprise.  Mrs. Spelich produced the most memorable St. Patricks Day show as a tribute to Mr. Murphy.  Any student who was at Slingerlands that year probably still sings that song today—I know we do.  I also have fond memories of working in the library to learn the card catalogue and dewey decimal systems.  As a fifth grader we were able to serve as safety patrol officers and wear the neon orange safety belts while calling out “no running” and “no skipping steps” to the under classmen.  The cafeteria used to be in the basement where the art and music rooms are now.  We’d enter the line through the current art room door where the kitchen was.  There were two large rooms separated by wooden paned doors where the lunch tables were.  We could sit wherever we wanted!  Lunch cost 25 cents, 3 cents for white milk and 5 cents for chocolate.

Slingerlands School will always be a special place to me.  My childhood sweetheart, Sean Sheehan actually proposed to me at the front entrance steps of the school during the March blizzard of 1993.  After 10 years of marriage we returned to Slingerlands with our three children and were able to give them the gift of the Slingerlands School experience.  As fate would have it, everyone in our nuclear family had Room 5 for their 5th grade classroom.  Aidan was with Mr. Sutton and both Nora & Maeve with Mrs. Clarkson.  The structure of Slingerlands School has changed a lot but the safe and nurturing atmosphere is still the same as it always was.”

Jean Engel Hecht: “I started kindergarten at Slingerlands Elementary school in the fall of 1952.  At that time “The Greatest Generation” was having babies at an amazing clip.  It seemed that many children I met were from large families just as mine would eventually have.  I am the oldest of 5 siblings, and we all went to Slingerlands Elementary School.  Renee Engel Slone started kindergarten in 1954, David in 1956, Thomas in 1959, and our youngest sister, Laura Engel Sahr, in 1965.  We lived at 18 Bridge Street.  The house was, and still has, yellow stucco with a red tile roof.  It backed up on McCormick Road, and the garage was on that street. 

The 1950’s were the height of the Cold War.  I have a vivid memory of my father building a bomb shelter in the basement.  Looking back on it, that shelter would not have protected us, but it was supposed to give us a sense of safety along with the bomb drills we had in school.  Let’s face it – hiding under our desks would have done nothing to protect us, but we were children and we thought the adults were keeping us safe.

When I started kindergarten, the “new” addition was being built.  Its completion gave us much more room.  Although we could take the bus, we often walked to school.  At that time there were “woods” across the street.  We walked through the woods, climbed up a hill, crossed the railroad tracks, went down another hill and crossed over Kenwood Avenue and then eventually got to school.  In those days Bethlehem Central NEVER closed for snow.  I had a woolen snowsuit, and I remember the odor of drying wool on the radiators as the snowsuits dried during the day.  Girls had to wear dresses or skirts, and we spent winter days staying warm during the day as the snowsuits dried.

I am still friends with people I met during those days, and we keep up on Facebook.  Who could have imagined the communication things we have today?  When I was in 5th grade, the Berkman family moved to town, and I met Blanche who is still one of my closest friends today.  We are Jewish, and I was thrilled to meet someone else who was Jewish and who also attended Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany.

Finally, I want to finish this by saying something about my teachers.  They were all good, but in 5th grade I had William Morrison.  I learned so much from him.  He is still around, because my brother, Thom, has told me he runs into him periodically.  Most important, he taught us how to think and write research papers.  I think I still have some of them in my attic.  In 6th grade, I had Mrs. McBride.  She loved doing ceramics, and had us doing all kinds of projects.  My parents used a leaf-shaped dish in the living room for many years.”