Sunday, October 25, 2015

42. Gettysburg Is Still the Small Town We Remember

Nancy and I entered Gettysburg High School in the fall of 1945 when an article in the local paper reported that approximately 16,000 people visited the National Military Park the preceding year.  By the time we graduated in 1949, the number of visitors increased to  over 43,000, and in 2012,  the Gettysburg / Adams County Chamber of Commerce reported that 1.2 million people toured the historic site.

While visitors to the Park increased dramatically over the years, the number of residents in the borough has not. When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg the population of the town was 7,000. Today, it is 7,600.  

The reason the town doesn’t grow is because it is surrounded by the Battlefield. The fields and hills where rivers of blood ran freely in 1863 prevent the growth of the town we remember when we growing up.

Today, there are more tourist shops and restaurants, and the high school and athletic fields where we competed are gone, but many of the streets  we travelled are virtually the same. Of course, the Battlefield with a few exceptions is also the same. We hope it will always endure as a shrine to the brave men who fought and died there.

There are also ghosts in Gettysburg now. We don’t remember ghosts in the Forties. We suspect they were always there. They just needed someone to look for them, find them and promote them.         

Sunday, October 18, 2015

41. Gettysburg High School Sports

I played in my first game of football at Gettysburg High School in October of 1945. I didn’t start in that game against the Carlisle jayvees, but I came in as a sub and blocked two extra point attempts. That earned a mention in the Gettysburg Times and a starting position for the rest of the season and the rest of my football career in high school and college.

In 1945, Gettysburg High School was a member of the South Penn Conference for football, basketball, baseball and track. The other schools in the Conference were Carlisle, Chambersburg, Hanover, Hershey, Mechanicsburg, Shippensburg and Waynesboro. 

While Nancy and I were students at GHS, our teams were competitive in basketball typically winning more games than we lost. In our junior year, we lost to Chambersburg in the Conference Championship game. 

As we reported in previous posts, Nancy played intramural field hockey, basketball and volleyball, because unfortunately, there were no opportunities to compete against other high school teams at that time.

Basketball, when Nancy played, involved three girls on offense (forwards) and three on defense (guards) with a mid-court line neither group could cross. All players were only permitted two dribbles each time they handled the ball. Full court, five players basketball was adopted by girls in 1971.

Nancy and I are amazed at the level girls play basketball today, and I truly believe a good team now could beat almost any boys’ team I played on in high school. Given the size, speed and skills of some of the girls who play basketball now, we wouldn’t have an advantage in any area.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

40. Slang and Expressions from the Forties

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties people used words and expressions we don’t hear much anymore. For example, when writing in her diary in 1947, Nancy described a boy in her class as “swell.”  I remember calling a cute girl as “a real dish,” and a classmate was quoted in the Maroon and White suggesting a boy was “hubba hubba.”

Does anyone “neck” any more?  That’s what Nancy and I did with our “kissers” in the Forties. 

Bud Abbot and Lou Costello were one of the most popular comedy teams of the Forties and Fifties, and if we enjoyed one of their thirty-six movies, we might have told others, “It was a gas.” meaning it was funny and we had a good time. We might also tell others that it “Cracked us up!”

Nancy and I are both descended from the Pennsylvania Dutch, and if one of us visited Grandma, and her cookie jar was empty, she would never say, “The cookies are all gone.” To her,  the cookies were simply “all.” Our Grandmas also referred to paper bags as “pokes” or “toots” pronounced like the double oo in “foot.”  

If one of us got in trouble at Grandma’s house, she might scold us saying, “You daresn’t do that.” That rebuke was sometimes shortened to, “You “dasn’t do that.” If we thought we were scolded unfairly, we might think to ourselves, “Why is Grandma “raggin’ on me?” We would never actually say that to her.

Expressions of disbelief we haven’t heard for many years include “piffle,” “fiddlesticks,” “horse feathers” and  “poppycock.” Any one of those words from the past would describe most promises by our politicians in the present.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

39. Hangin’ Out after School in 1945

When Nancy and I were freshmen at Gettysburg High School in 1945, classes were over at 3:30. After school, Nancy often participated in interclass  competition in volleyball, basketball or field hockey. Unfortunately, seventy years ago, there were no interscholastic sports for high school girls.

On days when she had no games or other extra curricular activities, Nancy would leave school, and go “upstreet” with her girlfriends to Britcher and Bender, Fabers or the Delecto for an afternoon treat.

The most popular place to meet friends after school for treats was the Sweetland on the southeast corner of the square. Every afternoon and evening the booths at the Sweetland were filled with students enjoying sodas, sundaes or cherry cokes.  

On Saturday nights, the upperclass guys hung out in front of the Sweetland and watched the girls go by. The boys whistled and the girls giggled. 

I played Junior Varsity football as a freshman, so I had practice or games after school, but I still found time to join my friends on weekends.  

Varsity football during our freshman year was very discouraging. During the  two previous seasons, GHS won only one game, and in the fall of 1945, we lost the first two games by identical scores of 26 - 0. During the same period, our JV team won two of their first three games. There was hope for the future.

We have mentioned before that our teams in 1945-46 were called the Little Bullets, but that was only until our senior year when the Student Council proposed a school vote to change the name. From 1949 until today, teams at GHS have been the Warriors! Nancy and I still consider ourselves Warriors, but now we fight all the problems that go along with aging!