Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

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By Mary (Fish) Uhrig
Panel Participant, April 13, 2009, “Remembrances of High School”
Presented to the North Manchester Historical Society

 My name is Mary Kathryn Uhrig (my maiden name was Fish) and I went to Central High School, here in North Manchester, graduating in 1939. The school was located on Fourth Street, exactly where the Public Library is now. The two feeder schools were Thomas Marshall and Martha Winesburg. Central was both junior high and high school, so I went there for six years.

Entering the building in the morning, we would see Mr. Ogden, our principal, standing there as stern as could be. That’s really about as much as I remember about Mr. Ogden.  I had no personal encounters with him. Mr. Cook, the superintendent, taught the history class and also led the singing for Monday morning chapel. (The school had a large auditorium, with also a large balcony.) The part I liked about Monday morning chapel, besides the delay in classes, was the singing. And Mr. Cook really seemed to enjoy leading about half-a-dozen songs each Monday. I Believe there were a lot of Irish songs, like “My Wild Irish Rose” and “Comin’ through the Rye”, but I also remember songs like “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” and “Old Black Joe.” We all had paper songbooks to use.

We walked to school. Everyone did. My sisters and I had to walk eight-tenths of a mile from our house on East Ninth Street, to the high school. The hardest part was the noon hour, having to walk home and back, and wanting to enjoy our mother’s cooking, which was always the big meal of the day at noon. Many times we had to run part of the way, to get back in time for the school’s afternoon schedule.

Manchester College had a large number of education students in those days, so schools in this vicinity needed to be pretty top-notch, what with many college students coming in, in those days, for observations, and to do student-teaching. I believe the English instruction, under Ruth Barwick, was particularly outstanding.  I think Mr. Freed, our science teacher, was also known to be very good—and Mr. Bagwell as well.

Mr. Jackson was the gym teacher. Of course girls had to stay on only half of the basketball floor, while boys could run the entire floor. If you banged up your knee, Mr. Jackson would use Mercurochrome and a bandage, and then he would say, “I think that’s going to come out in fine shape,” regardless of how bad it was. At one point we had a lady gym teacher, who made us take cold showers. I really mean cold.

Eldon Sincroft was in our class. It was when he was playing football after school, in the yard behind the school, that he seriously injured his leg when he ran into the building. I always heard that maybe the school was considered at least somewhat responsible. In any case, it was a sad happening during my high school years.

It was fund to go to basketball games. Junior Shubert was our star player until he graduated in 1938. We were very proud of him, but we sometimes took the attitude that he didn’t have to work very hard. We would say, “He’s so tall that all he has to do is stand down by the basket, so that when somebody throws him the ball, he can just tip it in.” I think today, though, they just call that talent.

The girls had Sunshine Society, with after-school meetings maybe once a month. We had two kinds of fund-raisers that I remember of. We sold beautiful Christmas wreaths that were shipped in. They were made of genuine holly branches with wonderful red berries. We also sold five-cent hot dogs after school, maybe a couple times a year. Sometimes we could afford to buy one, and sometimes we couldn’t.

Mr. Koile was good in music, having several choirs and both orchestra and band. He actually was the initiator of the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, in 1939, the year I graduated. My sister was one of the cellists; I was one of the violinists.

As my older sister and I were reaching the junior and senior years (She was of the class of 1938) they started to have junior and senior proms, with dinner served in one room and a dance planned for another. Some ladies in our Walnut Street Church were very much opposed to any sort of dancing, but our mother said we could go to an older girl’s house a couple afternoons after school, and see if we could learn a little bit about dance steps. My sister was on the decorating committee for her prom, and they spent hours making the dance room beautiful, but actually, during our dances, we just mostly sat at the side, wondering if any boy would come and ask us to dance, actually hoping both yes and no. The dance floor was pretty empty, nearly all the time—I remember that. For music, I suppose there was a Victrola with records.

My mother was PTA president at one point. I remember that, at my father’s urging, she wrote to Amelia Earhart, the lady aviator, to invite her to come and speak at one of the meetings. The answer came back that she would come, but that the fee would be one hundred dollars. Of course Mother had to decline.

I remember our old Underwood typewriters in the typing room, and how I always dreaded painting days in art class. I remember class plays, and how they seemed to be judged according to how many times the prompter’s voice could be heard. I remember happy times, and sad times, and special close friendships. On the whole, high school memories are wonderful memories.