November 26, 1997
Shirley Williams has been going through some of the things that belonged to her late aunt, Gertye Kobes. Although her Aunt Gertye later became Mrs. Cecil Croka, I still tend to think of her as Miss Kobes because that was her name when I sat in her first grade class years ago.
At the time, several primary grades and a few junior high classes met in the three-story Perry school building which used to stand about where the school auditorium is now located. We called it "the high school," even though it was home to an amalgamation of the entire system, including a kindergarten class. The building was torn down in the 1960s when the present high school campus was constructed.
Miss Kobe's class met in a first floor classroom on the south side of the old building. Actually it was not very old at the time, but my classmates and I were hardly aware of such things. We were much more concerned with learning to read, write and to begin a conquest of arithmetic, which some of us never did achieve, despite the excellent help provided by our teacher.
Miss Kobes was a very pleasant lady with an easy smile, and she enjoyed getting youngsters started on the path to a lifetime of learning. She had a rather broad face framed by dark hair that she wore in the flat, marcelled style of the 1930s. She was one of two first grade teachers who attended the Presbyterian church where my family belonged. The other was Miss Ruth Mohr, who was reputed to be a much stricter disciplinarian. Actually, Miss Mohr enjoyed having fun with her students and she was less severe than her stern mien seemed to indicate. In those days, only unmarried ladies could be school teachers in the Perry system. If they chose to wed, they had to leave the profession. Only a wartime shortage in the 1940s changed that policy.
Shirley's search has yielded several class photos from the early 1930s when her aunt was a member of the Perry school faculty, and as it turned out, my class was among them. There are 38 of us lined up in five ascending rows, with Miss Kobes at the extreme left in row two. She is easy to identify, of course, but no names are provided for the others. I have been able to come up with the names of a few of my fellow first-graders, and you will remember some of them -- Archie Moore, Hugh Lobsitz, Jack Shelton, Raymond Stevens, David Thomas, Bob Donahue, Walter Powers, Sammy Laird, Esther Miller, Clovis Severe, Stanley Pratt, Dollie Wadsworth, Frances Treeman, Margaret Plumer, Donald Laird, Forrest Kraemer, Velva Treadway, Margaret Dolezal and Judy Pratt. Many others are so familiar, but I have not yet been able to recall their names.
Among the other treasures resurrected by Shirley are photos of first grade classes from other years, including the one attended by my sister, Jeanice. The year is not given, but some of those students are named on the back of that photo. Among them are Fred Peden, Paul Letellier, Frances Taylor, Doris Gum, Alice Malzahn, Genevieve Samuelson, Dorothy Beasley, Elfrieda Kerr, Joyce Yeager, Velma Zieg, Thelma Goley, Thelma Boone, Billy Edwards, Bobby Donaldson, Nora Belle Speiser, Retta Ritthaler, Katherine Taylor and Leta Harlan. Know any of these youngsters? The background on this photo indicates they attended the first grade in the so-called "old" high school which preceded the one I was in.
The other photo I want to mention is one which apparently shows a few faculty members and at least one administrator. They are shown standing outside the three-story brick high school -- the one that also contained primary and junior high children. Among those I was able to identify are Marie Unzicker, Supt. Homer Hill, Alba Mulkey, Ruth Mohr, Wilma Maggard, (Mr. Hill's secretary), Gertye Croka, Bessie Barker and Marjorie Laird, who taught me in kindergarten.
Looking at these brings back a lot of pleasant memories for me, and I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the names from the past. Perhaps the Perry School Alumni Association will someday have a place to display memorabilia such as this. Thanks to Shirley Williams for passing these photos on to me.