Jerry’s Journal

Blame it on old-age, forgetfulness, or whatever, that I forgot to list in my last column, along with the other neighborhood school of our past, Walradt Street School, St. Mary’s School and Holy Family School.

Walradt Street School

Tony Leotta emailed me almost immediately to say it was sad that his alma mater hadn’t been included and to remind me that “Some of the best students of the First Ward and Granby attended and graduated from Walradt Street School.”

The building, constructed in 1922, is still standing.

“The first- and second-grade teacher in 1939-1941 was Ms. Sullivan,” he wrote, “and the third-grade teacher in 1941-42 was Ms. Hunt (both wonderful ladies). Ms. Sullivan was old and strict. Ms. Hunt was young and a sweetheart. We learned arithmetic and spelling very well.

“Walradt Street School only taught first through third grades. Kindergarten was not available in 1939 for us farm kids from the suburbs of Granby. Furthermore, farm kids were expected to be more mature and better disciplined before entering first grade,” he continued.

“Upon leaving Walradt, we joined Ms. Bracy’s fourth-grade class at Phillips Street School in 1942 with the kids from Oak Street School. The following year we advanced to Ms. Black’s fifth-grade class.

“Ms. Black was a wonderful teacher and a sweetheart. We began “passing classes” in the sixth grade at Phillips Street. Ms. Elsie Schneider (from Oswego) was our homeroom teacher. Ms. Schneider was a very nice and compassionate social studies and English teacher.

“Ms. Ellen Frawley was our outstanding arithmetic teacher and very knowledgeable in her teaching methods. Mental arithmetic was taught and emphasized. Jane Rasmussen, Barbara Edison, Marianne Nucifora, and Margie Campbell were all extra special star students at Phillips Street.

“And then in 1947, we advanced to Good Old Fulton High School along with eastside students from Fairgrieve and St. Mary’s School. . . I cherish all the elementary and high school memories. .  . Now I am 80 and on the on the verge of retirement next month.”

Tony Leotta graduated Fulton High School in 1951 and attended Syracuse University. I wish him well upon his retirement from his long-time position as Oswego city engineer and I thank him so much for sharing his precious memories with us.

(PS: There’s a big plaque on a mound of earth between two of the new houses on Phillips Street where the school once stood. It reads: High School, Union Free School, Dist. #2, AD, 1900.)

St. Mary’s School and Holy Family School 

It was Jim “Hunky” McNamara who  informed me one night at dinner with him and his wife Marlene and Ed and me, that I had forgotten not one but two other old schools, St. Mary’s and Holy Family.

“Holy Family,” I said, “wasn’t like the other schools, it wasn’t here that long.”

Located just off Hart Street on the west side, near the church it was named after and closed like the church the past few years, it was nice and new just about the time my own kids started school in the late 1950s and 60s.

Although they didn’t go there, we did enjoy the dances and wedding receptions and other special events in the basement banquet hall, and I just bet the children who did attend class there must have many cherished memories, too, just like the students at Walradt Street and St. Mary’s do.

Hunky went to St. Mary’s — first through eighth grade, as did his siblings, Pat, Joe, John, Norma, Mike and Tom — until he entered Fulton High School, like Tony Leotta did, as a freshman in 1947 to became part of our graduating Class of 1951.

His children, Tim, Tom, Terry, Michele and Donna, also attended St. Mary’s, in the 1960s and 70s.

Truth be known, though, I probably didn’t even know St. Mary’s existed until my high school days.

The funny thing about it is that it was on Buffalo Street just around the corner from the old Fairgrieve School on South Fourth Street where I went to junior high.

We 1930s kids pretty much stuck to our own schools, friends, and neighborhoods — until high school, that is, when our small worlds met and grew a little in knowledge and friendship.

Hunky’s recollections of St. Mary’s include second-grade teacher Sister Rita Veronica, “a beautiful young nun;” a fifth-grade teacher, Sister Etia” (he wasn’t sure how to spell her name); and Sister John Dominick who was the school principal.

“Most of the guys were afraid of her,” Hunky declared. Did she rap their knuckles with a ruler? I wondered. “Maybe if they were bad,” was the reply.

“I remember the sandbox in first grade,” he laughed. “It was a table sandbox with about 12 inches of sand and we played with toy cars and trucks and there were little houses and trees in it.”

“We had to help Mr. Guilfoyle take out the trash,” he also remembered. “When you were little?” I inquired. “No! In seventh grade,” he said, as he recalled that it was expected of the boys to do this chore.

Bill and Dick Frawley, twin brothers who lived on Buffalo Street across from the high school, were among Hunky’s school buddies, he said, though a year ahead of him, while Mary Catherine O’Brien, Mary Ann Monforte, John Vogt, Joe Fox and Joe Muscolino he named as some of his classmates.

Asked if he was aware of the nearby Fairgrieve School, he said, “Yes, of course… I played softball with the guys… there were three softball fields in the park,” he recalled,

“The East Side Park, that’s what they used to call it, and I played basketball with them in the high school gym — I hung out with them in the park!” he said.

I thanked Hunky for his recollections and said I’d see him and Marlene at Mimi’s for dinner on Wednesday night at usual.

Now here’s my caveat: Readers beware! I write for fun. I am not a historian, nor a reporter. I write from memory and from what others want to share.

Sometimes I look things up; sometimes I mess things up. I hope you have fun reading my stuff.

Your comments, additions and corrections are always welcome.

You may contact me at 133 Tannery Lane, Fulton, phone 592-7580 or email JHogan808@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

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