North Street School


I’ve been away a lot these days. A lot of it was work-related.  But some was vacation.

In our lives we go home again every day.

You know I claim West Virginia as home. But a few weeks ago I went home to Portland, Oregon and last weekend I went home to upstate NY.

These trips home have changed & enriched my life.

Who says you can’t go home again?

The only relatives I have remaining in Ilion NY are from the High School class that graduated 1963—yes before JFK was assassinated……. before anyone had heard of the Beatles…….. before Woodstock which was only a little ways down the thruway.    In Ilion NY everyone spends summer weekends at a lake home they call a camp.

And here are some of us – the graduates of North Street School, my elementary school – which is now a run-down apt building.  In its day it had the traditional boy’s door and girl’s door.  And we played marbles and jacks together between them …….plus dodge ball in the field behind.

There is Sam the barber (Remember that joke of his and his dad’s both with the same name? Father and Son are out here cutting hair and the Holy Ghost is in the back room)

And Dave who greeted me saying, “You sure know how to throw a birthday party.”  He had sung a rousing rendition of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “16 Tons” at my first grade party.

There in blue is Mike whose birthday is the same as mine and he remembers it.  When the other Sam (in black) almost died a few years ago, Mike called the North Street School guys and they went to visit Sammy in Philadelphia.

And there is Fran who with her mighty team made this a fabulous event.  And Ed here all the way from Louisville.

We grew up in a small town with 5 churches—Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal and the Church of the Annunciation, 2 sororities, a champion basketball team, Friday night dances, and no internet.

There are my best friends, Mary and Jennifer.  Janet (in white) and I sang in Eleven Belles together and went to the Presbyterian Church where she still goes.  I stayed with her and Mel last week.

As Sam the barber, who was my 1st ever dance partner, pointed out as we gathered for this photo  that recent Sunday, we were the ones from the poor side of town.

Not that I don’t appreciate the folks from the other 3 grade schools that fed into good old IHS, but this photo of us from the north side of town really moved me.  We shared tender young years, there was pestering but not a lot of bullying, a good place to grow up.  I realized a lot about my town this last week and about the folks who lived there so many years ago.

A good experience where I gave a prayer for the 18 of us who had died—out of a class of 126—and sang a song as a blessing for the rest of us.

It turns out that for me, I could go home again.  Home is who you are.

Leave a comment

Phyllis Albritton

4 years ago

THANKS for sharing! SOOO SPECIAL!!! Happy for YOU ALL!!


4 years ago

Thanks for your heartfelt piece on home…. not many of us remember our grade school friends…. I barely
remember my high school classmates.

Fran Retzloff

4 years ago

Catherine, that was very touching. We didn’t get a chance to really talk and get to know each other over again. Sorry for that. If you are back this way, please let me know and we will spend time together.

Judy S

4 years ago

Welcome back to this home!

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