Monday, March 23, 2009

Good-bye “School Days”

Yes, we’ve had to take down our latest exhibition “School Days, School Days: A Historic View.” But now we get to do what all graduates do – reminisce.

One of the highlights of this history of the Hastings public school system was Julius R. Chemka’s letter sweater. Julie, class of 1944, had letters for basketball, football, and baseball. Thanks for sharing, Julie!

Member Georgia Kaschel at the opening of the exhibition

Member Marty Roos captured another great moment with this photograph. We have lots of old certificates from the schools – certificates of merit and attendance as well as graduation diplomas from 8th and 12th grade. We had space to display only one, and from the dozens in the drawer we picked one that was in good shape and had a drawing at the top of the old Fraser Free School (now the Hook & Ladder building at 50 Main Street).

Helen R. Sackett's 1901 graduation diploma from the Fraser Free
School, built in 1864 and one of the earliest schools in Hastings

We also liked the certificate because the men who signed it were three of the most important men in Hastings at the turn of the century. William R. Williams was superintendent of schools from 1900 to 1912, through the construction of two new school buildings. Frederick G. Zinsser, owner of the Zinsser Chemical Company on the waterfront, was the secretary of the Board of Education. And the president was Thomas K. Fraser, son of the Thomas Fraser after whom the school was named.

The certificate is the 1901 graduation diploma of Helen R. Sackett, later Mrs. Napoleon Mattson. Helen’s daughter, Georgia Mattson Kaschel, gave us the diploma back in 1988. So, as you can see, there are several layers of Hastings history in this photograph of Georgia.

Many visitors came to see “School Days”, including Greg Smith’s social studies class from the Hastings High School. (The students had fun looking through the old yearbooks to see what their teachers used to look like.)

It is hard to see a great exhibition taken apart, but now we can look forward to the next exhibition on the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909 – more on that in another post!

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