Capital Region Scrapbook: The kids from Rotterdam

Clara Bussman Cromer and her friends all received flowers during the early summer of 1937. The bouqu

Clara Bussman Cromer and her friends all received flowers during the early summer of 1937.

The bouquets and boutonnieres marked a great event — Clara and her friends had all just graduated from Jefferson Elementary School in Rotterdam.

“We had small classes,” said Cromer, who is now 88 and remains a resident of Rotterdam. There were 18 members in the Class of 1937, and 16 stood and sat for a group photograph. The girls all carried large bundles of flowers; boys had white flowers in the lapels of their dark jackets.

The graduation ceremony was a big deal. It began with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and was followed by a salutatory address by Richard Kiefner. Medals, gifts and merit awards were presented. These ceremonies were followed by words from valedictorian Dorothy Delory — all about Horace Mann’s influence on popular education. Then there was a speech by Rowland J. Pulling, principal of the Mohawk School in Scotia.

New location

Jefferson was on Princetown Road and now houses the Rotterdam Police Department as the Joseph S. Dominelli Public Safety Building. The kids left in 1951, when a new school was built on Princetown Road at Ford Avenue. New additions were constructed in 1956, 1974 and 2003, according to the Schalmont Central School District.

Cromer, who graduated from Draper High School in 1941, remembers when the site of the current school was just a large field. During the winter, plenty of snow and ice ensured that kids had a place to skate. “The boys used to get tires and light them for bonfires,” Cromer said. “You couldn’t do that now.”

During the summer of 1937, kids were going to the movies and listening to the radio. “Captains Courageous” with Freddie Bartholomew and Spencer Tracy may have attracted some; “Shall We Dance” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers played for others. Radio diversions included “Little Orphan Annie” on WGY and “The Romance of Helen Trent” on WOKO.

Sports fans looked forward to Major League Baseball’s 1937 All-Star Game. Lefty Gomez of the New York Yankees started for the American League against Dizzy Dean of the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League. The A.L., with Yankees Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio in the starting lineup, took an 8-3 victory.

Categories: Life and Arts

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