Thursday, October 28, 2010
The First Halloween at Cherry Road School!
Halloween is a few days away. It was my one of my Aunt Marion Parsons' favorite holidays. She loved everything about it.
Here is a picture of the first Cherry Roaders, 1927, "all fixed for Halloween!" The caption is written by Marion Parsons, a doting auntie, teacher and principal. (During the first few years, she served both as teacher and principal.)
That's my father, the baby on the ground; the two children reaching to him are my Uncle David and Aunt Helen who were twins. (They both passed this year.)
The picture was taken in their backyard at 107 Cherry Road.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Reflections on Miss Parsons:
After talking to so many alumni and former teachers of Cherry Road School while visiting in New York this month, I came home with core themes, common to everyone who remembers Miss Parsons through their own experiences. These themes include "respect" and "common sense."
One former student who graduated 8th grade at Cherry Road in 1943 put it this way:
An awful lot of common sense--that's how she educated. She didn't have any hard-set rules. Back then, when you were principal, you called the shots. To my knowledge, she always called it right.
Tonight, while rifling through my research artifacts, I came upon the program for Marion's retirement luncheon, put on by the Mother's Club of Cherry Road School. The opening page reads:
With deep affection and gratitude.....The Mother's Club of Cherry Road School joins with the community of Westvale to present this testimonial luncheon in honor of Miss Marion Parsons, who for twenty-six years has been principal of Cherry Road School.
Friend, confidante, and inspiration to countless children, Miss Parsons has served the community in more than a professional way. She is our well loved neighbor and friend.
Keeping constantly abreast of the latest trends in education, she has kept the standards of Cherry Road School high, giving our children fine instruction coupled with a happy school experience.
The founder of the Mother's Club in 1927, she has been its inspiration and staunch supporter throughout its years of service, working with the mothers of our community towards the betterment of our school and closer parent-teacher relationships.
All of Westvale salutes Miss Marion Parsons--a gallant lady. We wish her much success and happiness in her retirement as she has given those whom she has served over the years.
May 24, 1952
Monday, October 18, 2010
Home Again, Home Again...
Hard to believe the long-awaited visit to Syracuse from my perch in Portland has come and gone. It was rush, rush to get there and be ready for the Historical Society presentation. My heart raced all day the day of and then it was over and people were raving about how interesting it was. Indeed, how often do you get to listen to oral histories told as though the pranks and the good times and the paper routes were just last week instead of seventy-some years ago and more? The twinkle in the eye of a man who has long retired from a bank job is the precursor to a good story and a life well-lived and not forgotten. So my research visit was off to a good start.
I stayed in an ancient Victorian farmhouse, once the target for everyone in the Marcellus-Skaneateles area in search of apples in the fall. Now the owners are struggling to restore the house, to find the history destroyed in a fire. That setting staged my visit. I woke up early each morning with a list of appointments and interviews and obligations. Clearly I overbooked my time, but it was worth every exhausting day.
I've returned to the office with hours of conversations to listen to on the digital recorder, copies of ancient pictures and newsletters, memories of times spent with cousins I've learned to appreciate. So much fodder for the story. I found an album I thought I'd lost. My cousin uncovered letters written to Marion Parsons by our Great Grandfather during a time she had gone west, during a time he thought she might not return to Westvale.
Since returning to Portland I've read and re-read the letters and have come to the conclusion that Willis was treading lightly with Marion in these letters. He dare not demand, yet held her interest and involvement with newsy letters, filled with stories of home that must have pulled at her heart and the ties that bind one to home. In a letter dated Sept 13, 1924, Willis Parsons writes: This has been a week of almost continuous rain bad for the State Fair as well as for farming. Sowed six acres of winter wheat yesterday and have five more to sow when the ground gets dry. Got the seed wheat (Junior No. 6) from a Mr Joroleman who lives on the Weedsport-Cato road. This wheat took first prize at the State Fair. When I went to look at it, I took Mother Grace and the babies. Two young couples from Interlaken came to the Fair, and camped at the lower end of the orchard. This was the sixth time they had been here for the Fair and same camp.
(I'm guessing Grandpa made a little extra on the side at Fair time, renting out camping spots in his orchard. "Mother Grace" was Marion's sister, my grandmother, and "the babies" would have been the twins, my Uncle David and Aunt Helen. Helen died just two weeks ago and would have been 89 next month. David died earlier this year and I will miss them both more than I can find words to describe.)