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Just Outside My Door 11/29/12

December 5, 2012
By ELAINE?COLE - COLUMNIST ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Thanksgiving is over and I suppose Christmas shopping, began on Black Friday though I never experienced it personally. I can't imagine how anyone wants to tackle the crowd to get a few bargains, but every body is different and it's good that not everyone is like me! That's what I use to tell our children if they spoke unkindly about another person. I also told them that if they can't say something good about a person, don't say anything at all. Probably it would be better if folk never complained about the weather either, unless it is good and it appears that snow this time of year is not pleasing to some folk, but as I've often said, I can't wait to see some snowflakes start falling down for I greatly enjoy the beauty it brings just outside my door. Nevertheless, I won't write about today for I have something different to tell you about.

A few months ago I received a letter from Frances L. Royce who was 95 years old at the time. I talked to her this morning and she has many memories of years past and she said I could use anything she related to me in that letter. It may not be interesting to you for it was about her past. However, I always enjoy doing features on folk and especially those who have lived much longer than I. And as you probably know, one of my favorite subjects to write about is yesteryear. Moreover, maybe some of you might even recall one of those early teachers in Sherman.

I'm taking the liberty to call this lovely lady Frances for I feel I know her. She taught in a country school and when they centralized she taught in Ripley for thirty some years. Apparently she has enjoyed my column's because she said it was always the first thing she read when she got the Sentinel News. She also said she "has been connected with Sherman many times since childhood, so prepare yourself as I am about to delve into the past".

According to Frances, when she was about 5 her elder sister, who was 17 years older, graduated from Allegheny College in January and began teaching at Sherman High School. The date was probably about 1923 and her name was Marjorie Lillie. She taught English and history. "She boarded with a lovely Holland Dutch older couple whose name was Dennawald." Her sister became good friends with Freda Newberry who was the music teacher. The two of them produced two operettas, "Windmills of Holland" and "The Toreadors" and Joyce remembers many of the songs used in them. She also recalls the Ag teacher, Jim Robinson and they were all great friends. Frances's sister "taught in Sherman eight years and loved every day."

In those days, she says it was not easy to go to Sherman even though they had a car. She thought the main road to Sherman was a dirt one. When her sister came home for Easter or Christmas her father drove to Portland where her sister had come by train. Currently Brocton/Portland have made that depot into a museum. The Dennawalds were lovely people. They had a grown daughter, but didn't see her often because she didn't live at home.

Frances said that she and her brother went to Sherman once and stayed over night with the Dennawalds and her sister. Mrs. Dennawald had a blind mother who occupied part of the house. Frances says that she remembers Mr. Dennawald had a cow in the barn behind the house when she was about 6 years old and he once tried to show her how to milk the cow. "I could never forget that and those lovely people will live in my memory forever," she said.

When Frances' sister left Sherman the music teacher and the Ag teacher decided it was time to move on and she thinks that Robinson took a job as principal in Stockton and Newberry went back to her home town, Holland, NY. Her sister took a position in Medina, N.Y.

Another sister of Frances, Caroline Barnhart, taught fifth grade in Sherman for several years and "getting there was an adventure on cold stormy days."

Frances also wrote "that most of my life I have had a connection with Sherman, and all my working life I have loved the yard and garden work." She said too, that she could tell me many more stories about her wonderful father's adventures getting to Sherman during those yesteryear days and thanked me again for writing my column.

Perhaps some of you recall one or more of Frances' sisters that taught in Sherman. You might also have memories of former school days or other incidents that took place in Sherman or other nearby towns that would be of interest to local people. If you do, please email or phone me and perhaps I can write about them. My phone is 761-6857 and email is



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