Two distinct happenings in the summer of 1950 stand out in my mind: The beginning of a war and meeting my new seventh grade teacher.
On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea by marching its army south across the 38th parallel. This was the border dividing Korea that was established by the U.S. and Russia at the end of World War II. The Korean War turned out to be a dreadful three-year conflict with an armistice (not a peace treaty) signed on July 23, 1953. North and South Korea, for the past 68 years, have been technically still at war.
In the summer of 1950, I was 12 years old and had memories of World War II ending in 1945 when I was 7 years old. Fire sirens blew for what seemed an unending period of time. Now I was dismayed that another war had begun.
Each day that summer when the afternoon Lancaster New Era newspaper arrived, I would sit on the grass under the silver maple shade tree in the front yard of my home on East Main Street in Intercourse and read everything I could find on the subject.
I had some lawn mowing, car washing and other miscellaneous jobs that summer, including helping with gardening at home. In addition, I would ride my Wings Reliance bike around town, checking on new house construction or engaging in activities with my buddies.
When school would begin in September, I would be entering the seventh grade at the one-room Leacock Township School at the east end of town. One day, as I was riding my bike near the school, I noticed the windows were all opened wide, and the closer I got to the school I heard what sounded like the hum of a power tool. I rode onto the school yard, parked my bike and walked up to the door. I was greeted by a friendly man who introduced himself as the new teacher for the school. His name was Richard Bradley.
As we became acquainted and he learned I would be one of his pupils, he asked me if I would like to help him with his project. He was sanding the desk tops, which removed accumulated carvings by students over many previous years, and revarnishing them. As I agreed to help, he took another empty coffee can, poured out some varnish, and gave me a brush. I became a partner in the refinishing project.
My seventh grade year with Mr. Bradley was my favorite year in grade school. As the school year began, we learned he had been recently discharged from the Army, and had signed up in the Reserves. He expressed concern that our school year together could be interrupted by a call-up due to the U.S. involvement in the Korean War. We were all relieved when he did not experience a call-up.
This school year included many extracurricular learning experiences not experienced up to that point. We made glass terrariums with 10-by-12 glass panes connected with adhesive tape, in which we placed moss, small stones and a variety of wildflower plants. We went to Nolts Pond to select a variety of goldfish and tropical fish to stock several aquariums.
A fun event was holding a community spelling bee in the Lodge Hall to raise money to buy a mimeograph machine to print a school newspaper. We named it “The Chatter Box.” My classmate, Joyce Hoober (Hershey), was our editor. We financed some of our other projects by conducting a scrap drive. I loved to haul in newspapers using a trailer attached to my bike.
Mr. Bradley moved on to new educational and teaching opportunities after that one year of teaching at our one-room school. I lost track of him over the years but learned he had retired in Florida. During a trip to Florida 1n 2003, I located him. My wife and I were delighted to visit with him and his wife in their home. We enjoyed some reminiscing and learned more about his journey after 1950.
The writer lives at Landis Homes, south of Lititz.
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