Some Happy Reminiscences

Thinking about my highschool days at ANC – the Academy of the New Church – I remember how awestruck we were at the cars some of our well-off friends could drive. ‘Pussy wagons’ was the term we generally used. Now I recall my dad had one of the sweetest examples – a ’55 custom Pontiac Catalina hardtop, green and cream, and I drove it! It’s part of a long series of Pontiacs described here by Wikipedia.

Our local policeman was an ex-army cop – only 12  years  older than I – with a good heart and lots of insight into adolescent boys and girls. There were certain ‘trysting’ spots along the Meadow Brook near Buck Rd or Terwood Rd that he would cruise at times when bigger troubles didn’t demand immediate attention. One of my friends reported that Warren came upon him and his girlfriend in the act. “We’re just necking, Mr Warren”. Warren replied “Well, put your neck back in your pants and move along.”

Glen Klippenstein and Kent Klippenstein went to the same school I did. They came from Saskatchewan, Canada, having joined our Church. Kent was my classmate; Glen was 2 years older. He managed Cairnwood Farms (separated from our home by a wooden, split-rail fence) owned by uncle Raymond Pitcairn – and later went into politics. He established GlenKirk Farms, a cattle breeding operation which sells cattle, cattle semen of various breeds, and embryos across America and worldwide. His business partner Kirk is a Pendleton – another relative. All this is shown in a Wikipedia article about ‘Klip’.

The private school we attended gave really top tier education, from pre-school through college. In some subjects (education and theology) graduate degrees are offered in league with institutions of higher ed in the area. I’ve found that what I learned in high school often tops my college and even graduate students. Having boys and girls in separate programs allows for open, individualized connections of students with instructors. Faculty collaboration and oversight by directors and management coordinate these gender separate schools.

I was blessed with wonderful teachers in the boys ANC in the 50s. For example Otho Heilman showed us how to set lead type; he also printed the Community Bulletin. Kenneth Rose taught math and science. He worked with (not for) Einstein at Princeton, 30 miles from Bryn Athyn. He showed us how to keep ‘binary’ count with 10 fingers, so we could track attendance at various church and school events. (The middle finger of the right hand represents 4; it was used a lot). Bob Johns (who married my cousin) taught real, not just theoretical physics. E.g., he’d have us push serving carts around the dining hall and make them collide, to experience the laws. Dr Wm. Whitehead taught religion. When one student asked ‘Dr Whitehead, Is it possible to catch Syphillis from a toilet seat?’, he answered with his British accent, ‘Yesss, but it’s a hell of a place to take a woman!’ Ed Allan taught physics and lab science’. (Naturally we teenagers had to smash drops of liquid mercury to see what happened.)

My very tall, politically progressive cousin – Dr Sig Synnestvedt – was the best history history teacher anyone could hope for. Students nicknamed him ‘Large’. He would have us read literary examples to get the situation and feeling accross, e.g., ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade”. He liked to quote Thos. Carlyle ‘All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.’ I find Carlyle left out ‘or said‘. Sig’s right wing views put him at odds with the very conservative directors at the time. He had to go to another publisher for his book – The Essential Swedenborg. In 1972 Sig also published a ground-breaking critique of Reconstruction – The White Response  to Black Emancipation – which was discussed in this 2017 Huff Post interview with his children, after his death.

Dr Doering taught history as well; his daughter Betty (Doering) Echols taught math. Her son – a life-long friend – lives in Georgia. Bob Gladish, and Ernie Bruce Glenn (also a relation) taught English at different levels, as did Richard (The Rick) Gladish, who was also school Principal. Yes, there were lots of 1st or 2nd cousins marrying in that small community. Gotta keep the smart genes alive! Bob Gladish – one of another big, brilliant clan (not my relations) – once asked us, “What does this expression conjure up?: ‘A nervous titter went around the room'”. Principal Gladish liked to say, “I know, it’s not the school you hate, it’s the Principal of the thing!”

Dr Gladish was totally devoted to the good of the school, and he was brute strong physically. When the main library and central office building – Benade Hall – was set on fire by a crazy fire-bug, it burned for many hours. Mr. Gladish carried out whole steel file cases filled with important records. Some of us towns folk were close enough to watch his courageous feat. This photo is of the rebuilt structure – still a school icon.
Prof. Stanley Ebert coached Sports and taught French. In the former role, he coached many winning seasons. In the latter role, he guided his recent highschool students on a tour around Western Europe, including Holland, Switzerland, Spain and of course France, where we stayed a while in the Normandy town of St-Malo. That was the start of my great love for travel and researching other cultures. Unlike the ‘Ugly Americans’, we didn’t ask ‘Why does everyone here speak a foreign language? I hope that kind of stupidity has passed! ‘Uncle’ Stan was also a close friend of my parents, and his son Marlin was my room mate at PSU in State College, PA, and best man at my wedding. Both have passed on.
I loved teaching American English to adult immigrant learners. I was fortunate to travel to Guadalajara, Mex, and take a course at the  ITTO institute teaching other languages. Here’s a collection of my teaching materials from that good time in my life, when travel and foreign language learning were still easy for me. Maybe again; who knows?


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