It seems that this has been the shortest summer in history, and now it’s September, and the kids are back in school. While trying to convince myself that my younger grandchild is really going to kindergarten, my thoughts just naturally went back to the day that her mother started school and from there, way back to my own school days here in Westfield.
Things were really quite different then. We never worried about missing the school bus because there wasn’t any school bus. We who lived in the village walked to school and if we played on the way and were late (often the teacher called it “tardy”) we must face the consequences, often being required to stay after school to make up the time.
We had no problems with the cafeteria because there was no cafeteria. We walked home at lunch time and had a good hot meal at our mother’s table and a chance to work off a little steam.
Some of our teachers had received their training right here in Westfield and taught here most of their lives. From my grade school days I think of Helena Merker, Elizabeth Mason and who could forget Philena Marshall, who was elementary principal in charge of discipline for the whole school? The pupils all stood in awe of her.
In junior high school there was Lillian Meeder who taught me and my children. There were Ellen Fuller, Mary Porter Johnson, Caroline Betts and Alice Spute. High school teachers who stand out in my memory are Marguerite Shepard, Mary V. Skillman, Arthur Macer and Harry Eaton, who was principal during my academic days.
Alton Douds coached all the boys’ athletic teams and taught physical education also. Among the Will Sherman photographs at Patterson Library I found one of Westfield High School’s track team of 1930. I found the picture very appealing as the boys were my contemporaries and the photo was taken before the ivy-covered wall of the old Westfield High School building which stood on the site of the present Bell’s Market (Editor’s note — This location is now Tops Market).
The Westfield Republican of March 26, 1930 announced that track season was about to start. On April 30, “Track season opens at W.H.S. first meeting with Erie East High School.” Westfield lost to Erie 76 1/2 to 36 1/2. Outstanding feature in the meet was Harry Wantshouse’s performance in the shot-put. Wantshouse also placed second in the 100-yard dash and third in the 220. “Coach Douds expects his squad to improve as the season progresses.”
In May Westfield High School defeated North East, 69-14. Wantshouse again won the 100-yard dash. Westfield surprised North East by taking all three places in the high jump. Wantshouse, Canfield and Hough finished in that order, far ahead of their nearest rival from North East in the shot-put. Seamans won the discus event. Westfield “invaded” North East a week later for a return engagement, winning again.
The June 1 Republican reported “having won the Little Valley inter-scholastic meet last year from a group of 18 high schools competing, the Westfield squad will go over to Little Valley this Saturday to attempt to again win the trophy that is given to the school scoring the highest number of points. Last year the boys won after a hard struggle with such teams as Kenmore, Gowanda, East Aurora, Hamburg, Falconer and Little Valley.
A week later the headline in the paper was “Westfield Wins at Little Valley Track Meet.” Westfield High School track team finished their season last Saturday by going over to Little Valley and winning the annual interscholastic track meet for the second season in succession defeating Falconer, Gowanda, Little Valley, Lakewood, Perry, Warsaw, Cattaraugus and Randolph. Six of the meet records were broken and several others escaped by very narrow margins. The outstanding new record of the day was made by Wantshouse when he hurled the 12-pound shot 46 feet 10 3/4 inches. This mark, incidentally, was better than the best throw at the state meet held at Cornell the previous Saturday.
The award for the champs was the beautiful silk, blue and gold banner which you see in the picture and also a large silver loving cup.
I am certain the quality of education has improved during the years since my school days, but we were justly proud of Westfield’s record in both scholastic and athletic achievements.
Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.
Beigh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).
Photo courtesy Patterson Library Sherman Collection
Westfield High School champion track team of 1930 pictured are, first row left to right: Fred Hough; Ed Lillie; George Simmes; Deo Whitwood. Second row left to right: Paul Persons; Charles Watson; Scott Van Giesen; Max Canfield; Harry Wantshouse; Bert Seamans; Harold Morgentstern Jr.; Horace Hemingway; Adelbert Moon. Third row left to right: Harry Eaton; principal; Robert Simmens; Wallace Moore; Richard Herron; Al McGuinn; Joe Bivens; Jim Valone; Harold Wolfe; and Coach Alton Douds.