Nancy and I have many memories of growing up in Gettysburg, but not all our reminiscences are happy and treasured. We were reminded of that when we recently turned the pages of our 1946 Gettysburg High School yearbook in which the events of our freshman year are recorded.
The yearbook was dedicated to General Dwight David Eisenhower who guided our military through the European Theater of War in World War II. The reference to the war was a reminder that world wide 60 million people were casualties of that conflict. One page of the 1946 yearbook listed the names of 26 alumni of Gettysburg High School who lost their lives in World War II.
Turning the pages of the yearbook to a photograph of our freshmen class along with a list of names, we recognized one name that reminded us of a tragic event that occurred as our class was about to begin our sophomore year.
On Monday, August 26, 1946, our classmate Sydney Poppay was thrown from a pick-up truck as he returned to Gettysburg after picking peaches at one of the local fruit farms. Brought to the Warner hospital, our friend and classmate died of a fractured skull and other injuries the next morning.
Sydney was a good student who was involved in his church, his scout troop and in school activities. Had he lived, he would have continued to be a valuable and contributing member of our class and our school.
Three years later, our senior yearbook acknowledged our loss with these words:
“We remember with love and respect Sydney Poppay, a schoolmate of ours for a number of years, who was with us but one year during our high school days. . . His spirit still abides in the circles that his presence once graced.”