Cudmore: Junior High paper gives glimpse of 1950s life



In the 1950s, students at Theodore Roosevelt Junior High on Guy Park Avenue in Amsterdam put out a weekly newspaper, The Broadcaster.  Faculty advisers were English teacher Minnie Anderson and John Carnwright, who taught printing. 

Maureen Hanna of Amsterdam provided two editions from 1957.  The paper earned a first-place rating that year in the Columbia Scholastic Press Association contest for junior highs with enrollments between 700 and 1,200.

The 1957 co-editors were Christopher Turner and Peter Betz.  Betz is retired as Fulton County historian.  The lead story in March was the student production of “The Silver Skates” starring Phillip Bracchi as Hans Brinker.  Kathy Dersham got a good review for her “vivacious and lovable” portrayal of Gretel Brinker.  Imogene Fitzgibbons was faculty director.

Principal Fritz Heil had dropped in on an eighth-grade English class to see how students were doing with this question: “What is grammar?”  One student told Heil, “Grammar is the study of the language that a person speaks.”  Heil was chagrined that some students spelled the word “gramer” or “grammer.”

The Broadcaster reported, “It may be that your principal will be dropping in on an algebra class, a science class or a social studies class to try a similar experiment on you.”

There was a story headlined, “Lollipops make school day a thing of joy forever.”  All the students and teacher Elizabeth Sherlock were licking lollipops in her social studies class.

Sherlock had told students that if they wanted to chew gum or eat candy, they would have to bring enough for the class.  Students David Reid, Douglas Doesburg and Dave Wieszchowski took her up on the offer.

The Broadcaster reported, “As for Mrs. Sherlock, this was the first time she had ever had to eat her own words.”

On the sports page, 8DG won the basketball title over 8BR.  Homerooms were named with two letters from the last names of their teachers.  Harrison Wood led the winning team with 11 points.

A Broadcaster from March 1958 had a story reporting that Charles Maines, Robert Wszolek and Carmen Merando in Fred Martuscello’s metal shop were making jewelry.

A review of teenage jargon defined “muttnik” as a hot dog and reported a “coffee pot” was the life of the party.

I was a seventh-grader that year and turned in an essay on citizenship, “Being obedient to someone in authority is an important part of being a good citizen.”

Seventh-grader Thomas Urbelis, who went on to be a high school basketball star and later an attorney, had received a letter from Gov. Averill Harriman.  Harriman had heard about Urbelis’s interest in New York state history and sent him information on how 1959 would be New York’s Year of History.

One of my pleasant junior high memories is coming up with the slogan for my eighth-grade homeroom.  We were 8CW in honor of our homeroom teacher, Marion Carnwright, who taught art.  Her husband, John, taught the print shop.  My winning slogan was that we were 8 Can Win.

The junior high was built in 1924 on Guy Park Avenue east of Wall Street and the old high school behind it was annexed to the building. The high school dated from 1904 and was replaced by the Wilbur H. Lynch High School off Bunn Street extension in the 1930s.  Lynch today is the middle school.

Attorney Douglas Landon wrote, “My class completed eighth grade at Roosevelt in June of 1977, at which time the school closed. I believe it was razed later that year.”  The site of the school is now the Theodore Roosevelt Apartments.

Categories: Life and Arts

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