It’s ironic that as I get to the later stage of my life I have a clearer image of what things looked like with I was a child than what they look like today.

In the 1930’s, we often used the front of the commercial strip on the south side of Main St – between Montrose and Cassingham – as a playground – no parking in the front of the stores then.

In that relatively small area there were three grocery stores: Paul’s Food Shoppe, A&P and Kroger. In addition, there was the Martin Brothers Barber Shop, Far East Restaurant and Cherry’s Drug Store. As you can imagine, the grocery stores were extremely small by today’s standards.

Recently, I was delivering some items to one of the teachers at the Montrose Elementary School, when I had my first experience in navigating through all of the rules and security measures that are part of today’s procedures to protect our school children. It caused me to think back to some of the experiences I had in the Bexley School system – from my first year in the second grate in 1934 to my graduation in 1945.

Main-Montrose School, as it was called then, had previously been Bexley High School – from 1922 to 1932. When it was changed to an elementary school, only the middle floor was used for classrooms.

I recall the time when I was asked by the principal, Miss Ruby Borden, to place a telephone call to the Cassingham School to give a message to the secretary. Back then, there were prefixes in front of the number like Fairfax and Douglas, and I couldn’t figure it out. I was too embarrassed to tell her I did not know how to use a telephone. (We had no telephone in our home, and I had never used one before.) It became evident I didn’t know what to do, but Miss Borden, with compassion and understanding, gave me my first lesson in the “new” technology.

Just like the fads of students today, we had fads back then, too. One of the fads of the 1930’s was wearing high top boots (by the boys) if you wanted to be neat. Even better, if you wanted to be really neat, you carried a fold-up knife in the small pocket on the side of one of the boots. I ha my boots and I had my knife. I don’t recall any problem wearing them to school. Can you imagine the furor that would cause today?!

In 1940, I entered Cassingham Junior High. One of the first activities I joined was the Rifle Club. I don’t recall if the club was sponsored by the schools or by an outside organization, but the shooting range that we used was in the basement of the Main-Montrose School. (If you go to the basement of the school today, you can find chips in some of the bricks from errant shots.) I recall how proudly I took my bull’s eye targets home to show my parents how well I had done.

Both boys and girls were members. We have in our memorabilia a newspaper clipping and photos about the club and one of the girls is wearing a CSG blazer. The rational of that time was that boys and girls needed to be taught how to safely handle a rifle. I don’t think that argument would get very far today! My, how times have changed!

Adapted from article By F. Michael Herrel
Originally published in Historical Herald, July 2009

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