Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas tidings

Christmas day is over but I plan on continuing its celebration throughout the year! I'm glad the mild weather enabled my parents to celebrate with us. Dad really enjoyed receiving a blue and gray South Kortright cap, a memento from the school where he and mom first taught and met at a teacher's meeting on Labor Day, 1940.


Here is a copy of my Christmas morning "interview" I did of Dad to send to the SK alumuni who donated the cap for Dad and Mom, when they found out they taught there nearly 70 years ago:

Dear Bob and Cathy:

Today is Christmas 2008 and we gave Dad and Mom a South Kortright cap. Dad absolutely beamed when he opened the gift bag and exclaimed, “S.K! Blue and gray!” He wondered where I found one, and I explained about seeing MaryAlyce’s husband, Andy, wearing one at line dancing one night, and I wondered how to get one. I jotted down some notes, recording Dad and Mom’s South Kortright days.

My Dad, Lawrence N. Cook, grew up in the midst of the great depression on a small, family farm with 8 brothers and 2 sisters in Rome, PA, and graduated from Cornell‘s Ag program in 1940.(He roomed at the Ithaca firehouse and worked as a dishwasher in sorority houses for his meals). My Mom, Marion E. McKee, grew up on a very small farm on the outskirts of Afton, NY, and graduated from Albany State teachers college in 1940 with a business education degree.

They met on Labor Day 1940 at a teachers’ meeting at 1 p.m where they were served coffee and cookies. Since Dad was sitting at the end of an aisle, he had to pass out papers. Dad was the newly hired ag and industrial arts’ teacher, and Mom was the new business teacher. Dad said that Mr. Burke, the superintendent and principal, made it clear that all teachers were expected to remain in town during the weekends.(To be accessible to their students?)

Dad said that at that time, elementary teachers at South Kortright were paid $900 per year, high school teachers received $1,200 per year, and that the ag teacher received $1,800 per year, since he worked during the summer as well, visiting projects at over two dozen area farms. He also received 5 cents per mile, gas money. The principal and superintendent were the same person, Mr. Burke, who hired both of them. His salary was the highest at $3,000 per year. Mr. Burke’s wife, Betty, served as the school librarian at that time, and expected Mr. Burke to help put supper on the table, since she worked, too. Mom and Dad stayed in touch with the Burkes throughout their lives. The Burkes even attended Mom and Dad’s golden wedding anniversary celebration in Afton, NY, on July 10, 1992.

South Kortright was in a brand new building at that time. The school day started around 8:20 to 3:45. Each class was 45 minutes. All students were bussed to school except for the Tylers who lived on a farm next door.

While in South Kortright, Dad roomed over Lew and Sadie White’s funeral parlor. Mr. White also served as mayor at that time. They later moved to Cooperstown, NY.

Dad had a car that he was making payments on- a black 1936 Oldsmobile. He used it to visit his students’ projects. His brother, Jake, was able to sell it for him when he entered the service for the same amount of money he bought it for- $350.

Dad taught at SK until he left for serving in the army air force Air cadets in Oct 1941. He even taught some night school courses to make some extra money before his enlistment. He had started CPT (Civilian Pilot Training) while in Ithaca, and completed the program at Hartwick in Oneonta, where he soloed in an airplane with skis.He passed the traveling aviation board exam in Oneonta and volunteered for WW2 service instead of getting drafted even though Mr. Burke felt he could get him a deferment for essential work service. Dad spent most of his time during the war, flying the aerial gunners’ training planes in harlingen, TX. He was slated to report overseas to Italy when the war ended in 1945.(His gear had already been shipped over)

Mom continued to teach at SK until February 1943. She had married Dad in July 1942, but continued to teach while he was in TX. (She taught until she began “to show” her pregnancy, since those were the days that obviously pregnant women were not supposed to teach. My brother, Jack was born in July 1943).

The first year Mom taught at South Kortright, she roomed with Ellen Russ, the language teacher (French and Latin) and Mary Trainer, an English teacher. They lived in an apartment owned by a man who ran a Texaco gas station, so they were nicknamed the “Texaco Trio”.

The following year, Mary Trainer and Mom lived with an elementary teacher named Phoebe Snow.

One of Dad’s industrial arts students in the 7th grade was Hugh Rose who later served as a pastor atthe First Pres. Church in Binghamton, where Mom and Dad are long time members. Hugh Rose’s sister , Ruth, taught at SK, and married Floyd Maney (Sp?). Some other names of students Dad remembers are: Hans Wechs (Sp?), Chauncy Whitney, Walter and Howard Rich, and the Fox boy. He remembers visiting the Macalusso (Sp?) farm where they made wine, and had eggs, vegetables, and cauliflower. I’m sure he remembers many other students, too, but that’s all we chatted about on Christmas. He wore his new hat home!

Thank you so much for your generosity! Dad and Mom love having a tangible reminder of their South Kortright days!

No comments: