May 19, 1992|
I started Germantown High School in February 1926. Junior Highs weren't part of the system in those days. At that time the boys and girls had completely separate facilities. It was one of the best High Schools in the area and there were a great bunch of boys and girls.
During the first two years we were able to take the mechanical arts courses even if one planned to go to college. Germantown had great shop courses. I learned pattern making, working with sheet metal and blacksmithing, drafting, and other grafts which developed my interest in engineering and in being mechanically self sufficient.
Academically I was very interested in math and the sciences. I remember a Mr Grimsley in particular. He taught Algebra and loaded on the homework and was very strict. I give him credit for my understanding of mathematics. I finally graduated in February of '30 with an 88.4 average.
In those days there were many clubs and activities. I was President of the Engineers Club and belonged to Hi Y. I participated in the rifle, slide rule, chemistry, physics, and radio clubs. I also had a part in the senior play and served on various committees during the four years.
It was a great time to be in your dating years. It was the period of the big bands and prohibition. I belonged to the Alpha Phi fraternity. There were many fraternities and sororities and there were dances almost every weekend at the local country clubs. There was a great interest in dancing and our class arranged dance lessons after school.
I give one of my friends, Fred Bahls, credit for starting the Germantown Drag style of dancing which was very popular during my dating years. It was a smooth form of dancing with dips and other interesting steps.
I don't recall ever doing much to earn money during my school years. I do recall a period when I rebuilt the back outside stairs and adding insulation to the ranges for several of our neighbors on Limekiln Pike. And one summer I earned 50 cents an hour working for a painter.
In 1928 Dad bought one of the first new Pontiacs and it was the year when I could drive legally. We had a couple of model T Fords before that. One with a straight windshield. We also moved to 20th street in the Oak Lane area. I worked Saturdays at the corner meat market for a dollar a day plus nickel and dime tips. Some times I delivered in style with the Pontiac.
The stock market crash occurred just before I graduated in February of '30 and I had about six months before I could start college. I tried various jobs, some for a very short time. For instance, selling magazines door to door; it lasted a half day because I didn't agree with the misleading sales pitch. Another half day experience was putting insulation in refrigerator boxes. In this case I quit because there was so much insulation dust in the air that I felt it was unhealthy. I did spend more time selling Fuller Brushes and vacuum cleaners.
I finally got located in the chemical laboratory at the Atlantic Refinery near the present Philadelphia Airport. It was a long commute so I bought Jack Vautier's 1927 Ford coupe for $35. Sometime later, I turned it over trying to avoid a collision at a cross street, and I sold the Ford for 10 bucks. The job at Atlantic paid $20 a week in hard currency, gold and silver coins.
next: The College Years