Friday, August 24, 2018

Montoursville 2018: My schools (Part 2)

[Undated postcard of Lyter Elementary School, published by Merrimack Picture Post Card Company of North Springfield, Vermont. I believe that my fourth-grade classroom was the set of three windows on the far left.]

When we moved back to Montoursville in late 1980, I returned to Lyter Elementary School. This time I was an "upperclassman" within the elementary school — a fourth-grader instead of a first-grader.

My teacher was Mr. Rees Daneker, who was very cool1, and these are some of my scattered fourth-grade memories from that two-thirds of a school year (1980-81):

  • I aced all of my spelling quizzes.
  • A girl named Danielle sat right in front of me and would turn around and sing snippets of Blondie's "One Way or Another."
  • In art class, we painted, worked on a papier-mâché projects, and were introduced to those wonderful markers that smell like fruits and spices.2
  • In music class, we learned the basics of rhythm and beat. One of the songs we used for this was Air Supply's "Every Woman in the World." I used to be able to recall another song that we used, but it's slipped my mind.
  • As far as what we learned in Mr. Daneker's class beyond spelling and mathematics, my memory is hazy. There was almost certainly a unit on Christopher Columbus, but I'm pretty much drawing a blank.
  • One day we gathered in the cafeteria to watch Pollyanna.
  • I have a memory that the principal announced to the entire school, via the intercom system, the news that President Reagan had just been shot on March 30, 1981. I see that TV reports first aired around 2:42 p.m., so it's certainly plausible, timing-wise, that this happened. But I do not 100% trust my memory on this and might be conflating it with something else.

And then it was on to middle school...

1. Rees Daneker, on the right in the top row, was an assistant coach for the 1978 Montoursville High School baseball team, which finished the regular season with a 30-3 record and was the No. 1 seed in the PIAA District Four playoffs.
2. The blog Children of the 1990s states: "For a generation facing increasing concerns of huffing and household chemical abuse, it seems strange in retrospect that our parents and teachers once actively encouraged good old fashioned marker sniffing."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Happy 132nd birthday,
Ruth Manning-Sanders

Today is the 132nd anniversary of the birth of author and modern Renaissance woman Ruth Vernon Manning-Sanders (1886-1988). She gathered and retold folk and fairy tales from all over the world, publishing more than 90 books during her lifetime. And she was a friend to elephants.

She has her own label on Papergreat, so you can check out the 60+ posts in which she's mentioned. Here are the previous birthday posts:

Earler this year, I wrote about her early children's novel, Adventure May Be Anywhere. And this summer I took a trip to the northcentral Pennsylvania library where I first discovered her books in the early 1980s.

For her birthday, here's the lowdown on one of her novels, Mr. Portal's Little Lions, which is one of her toughest-to-find books and hasn't been documented elsewhere in cyberspace, to my knowledge.

  • Title: Mr. Portal's Little Lions
  • Author: Ruth Manning-Sanders
  • Cover illustrator: The only clue is the name "Sax" on the dust jacket. There is no credit inside.
  • Publisher: Robert Hale Limited, 63 Old Brompton Road, London
  • Price: 10/6 (ten shillings, six pence; same as the price of the Mad Hatter's hat)
  • Year: 1952
  • Pages: 256
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Provenance: This copy once belonged to "C Bowman"
  • Dust jacket copy: "This is a sensitive and beautifully written story of what happened to a timid, unobtrusive, little middle-aged bachelor when he unexpectedly inherited money and should have found freedom at last.

    "But Mr. Philip Portal's lifetime of devoted service as head clerk in a solicitor's office, lonely, hypersensitive and in a rut of accepted drudgery, has unfitted him for complete freedom. He both yearns for and shies away from the solace of love. He tells himself that he has escaped from the tyranny of his characterful old landlady on the sea front, when he has a home of his own with an attractive, domesticated widow as neighbour on one side and a poetically minded spinster, who is a painter, on the other side.

    "And then there is Cynthia — the young, pretty niece of his landlady — cropping up to play havoc with his wavering emotions, until he sees and hears 'little lions' on every path!

    "The solution is surprising, and to no one more so than to Mr. Portal himself."
  • So there are no real lions? It would appear not.
  • A thought: This should be a movie with Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren and others.
  • Also, Hugh Grant: Yes.
  • Kelly Macdonald, too? OK.
  • First sentence: Two men sat facing one another across an office desk: James Harley, a middle-aged solicitor, good-humoured, good looking, a thoroughly good fellow, and Philip Portal, his head clerk.
  • So, Grant as Harley and Firth as Portal? Indeed.
  • Last paragraph: Did she understand? Perhaps. If she didn't, it seemed to Mr. Portal that nobody ever would.
  • Who is she? Who did he pick? I'm not telling.
  • Random sentence from middle: On a low stone hedge some young lambs were playing at king-of-the-castle, butting their woolly heads into one another's ribs and leaping sideways.
  • Manning-Sanders biography: This is from the back flap of the dust jacket. There are a couple details here that were new to me:
    "The wife of George Manning-Sanders, the artist and writer, Mrs. Manning-Sanders was born in South Wales, of an old Unitarian family. She was a Shakespeare scholar at Manchester University but, before completing her English Honours course, left to get married. With her husband she toured England, Scotland and Wales in a horse-drawn caravan. Then they joined the artists' colony at Newlyn and finally settled in their present home at Sennen Cove, near Land's End. They have two children.

    "Ruth Manning-Sanders began writing verse, and never thought to write anything else till economic pressure acted as a spur. One day she met an elephant in Sennen, and became interested in circus life. She joined a family tenting circus, travelling and living with them to study the practising of the artistes and the training of the animals. She worked as an advance agent, rode an elephant on parade, and went into the lions' cage with the trainer.

    "This has provided material for two circus novels already published and a third in preparation; also for her forthcoming history of the English circus. Her hobbies are gardening, animals and birds, astronomy, poetry and painting, legendry lore and prehistoric research."

Monday, August 20, 2018

Peaceful postcard of a steaming log

Yep, yet another "steaming log" post on Papergreat. This is a Cardinell-Vincent Company Color Type postcard that has never been used in its century-plus of existence. According to MetroPostcard, that California company was in business from 1907-1919 and "published view-cards of California in a variety of techniques through a number of different printers. They were chosen as the official publisher of postcards for the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915."

The caption on the front of this card states:


Mount Tamalpais, which rises to 2,571 feet, played an important role in Miwok culture, as those Native American peoples warned that a dangerous witch dwelled there (although they might have said this just to scare the white people into staying away). Today, Tamalpais stands as an important wildlife refuge, especially for some endangered species, so, witch or no witch, we can hope that humans will continue to stay away as much as possible.

Finally, on a related note, I mentioned the Muir Woods in this post about Gray Line tours of the Stanford area last fall.

Montoursville 2018: My schools (Part 1)

[Lyter Elementary School on Spruce Street, July 2018]

With regard to my Montoursville memories, I only have two schools to talk about — the elementary school and the middle school. Given the years that I lived there, I never attended Montoursville Area High School, which is embedded so beautifully near the center of the town's residential grid. In fact I was only ever in that building a couple times, once for a middle school choral concert. So I'll leave the history and tales of Montoursville High to others.

I lived in Montoursville for the following school grades:

  • Nursery school (at a church)
  • Kindergarten (C.E. McCall Middle School)
  • First grade (Lyter Elementary School)
  • Second half of fourth grade (Lyter Elementary School)
  • Fifth grade (C.E. McCall Middle School)
  • Sixth grade (C.E. McCall Middle School)

I attended two years of nursery school (1974-75 and 1975-76) at what is now Faith United Methodist Church on Fairview Drive. (I would also attend Sunday School and Boy Scout meetings at that church, in later years.) The story goes that I wasn't quite ready, in terms of social adaptation, for kindergarten following my first year of nursery school, so I went through a second year. Regardless, I don't have any memories of either year. But there are snapshots! Here is a group picture from June 3, 1975 — the end of my first year of nursery school. That's me in the blue shirt, sitting on the ground in the far left of the front row. I definitely don't look like nursery school graduate material at that point. I look like I need a nap.

Following the two-year nursery school grind, I attended kindergarten in a first-floor classroom toward the back of C.E. McCall Middle School. Mrs. Bonazzi was my teacher, and I previously wrote about the ephemeral proof that I graduated on June 10, 1977. I remember generally enjoying the kindergarten environment. We learned the alphabet, and it was a high-energy classroom full of colorful educational materials on the walls. I wish I had other recollections beyond that, but it's just been too long.

By that point we were living on Spruce Street and, for first grade, my new school was Lyter Elementary School, aka the "George C. Lyter Building." In that September 1975 issue of The Otstonwakin, the following was written:
"George C. Lyter Building — It is a modern building located on Walnut and Spruce Streets and is used for grades from kindergarten through grade four. It is estimated the building can be used to provide for the needs of the school district for thirty years."
Lyter Elementary opened in September 1959, so in 1975 they were estimating that the building would remain in use until at least 1989. It has far surpassed that estimate as it enters its 59th school year of existence this fall. The school is named after George C. Lyter, who was supervising principal of Montoursville schools from approximately 1918 to 1950.

It was about three blocks along Spruce Street for me to walk to first grade at Lyter Elementary during the 1977-78 school year, and I recall doing so often. My teacher was Ms. Miller, and my room was straight ahead, then on the right, after you went through the main entrance on Spruce Street. My first-grade memories include:

  • Praise for being way ahead of the curve on my reading level.
  • Counting by fives with aplomb.
  • Our desks were usually organized in a circle (or perhaps a rectangle), with everyone facing inward and being able to interact with each other.
  • Frequently breaking into smaller groups for learning and practice.
  • Our class made a recipe book that all of the parents contributed to. Mom's contribution was "Mommy's Favorite Hamburger Hash," and I wish like hell I could find that mimeographed book, but it's surely gone.
  • I had to stay after school one day for talking out of turn, and I cried.
  • The playground was patrolled by a paddle-toting administrator. I never actually saw anyone paddled, but, oh, there were stories.

When our family return to Montoursville two-and-a-half years later, after a stint living in southern New Jersey, I would return to Lyter Elementary in the middle of the school year as a fourth-grader...