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School spirit high for class of 1928

June 22, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

by JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

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Class of '28

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The year was 1928. Mickey Mouse made his debut, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, Herbert Hoover was elected president and 38 seniors graduated from Greencastle High School.

This year, the class of 1928 is planning its 70th reunion.

Its remaining members are in their late 80s and early 90s, but their school spirit remains strong.

Adam Byers, 88, of Shady Grove, Pa., was the class valedictorian. He is coordinating the 70th reunion to be held in August. So far six classmates have signed up, about the number he expected.

Mabel Phillippy, 90, is two years older than most of her classmates.

"I started late because of illness. I missed the first grade and part of the second," she said.

She dropped out before graduation to get married, "a decision I've never regretted," she said.

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For years, Phillippy was not invited to class reunions because she hadn't graduated, but that was before the number of classmates started to dwindle, she said.

She outlived two husbands, spent 60 years in the same house in Greencastle and now lives in Menno-Haven, a retirement community in Chambersburg, Pa.

Math was her best subject, a skill she put to use for 38 years as a bookkeeper for ELM Feeds in Greencastle. She retired in 1981.

She remembers Byers as being the smartest student in the class.

"All the kids went to him for help with their work. He told them how to solve their problems, but he never showed them the answers," Phillippy said.

Phillippy lived 16 miles from the school and there were no school buses.

"My father drove me to school on Monday morning and picked me up Friday afternoon. I boarded with people during the week," she said.

Byers, like most of those of his generation, went to a one-room grade school. Phillippy graduated from Clay Hill Elementary, a two-room school.

Greencastle High School was on South Washington Street. It closed in 1960 and today is the site of an apartment building.

Byers said he has fond memories of Principal W. Morgan Cross.

"He was someone you could look up to," Byers said.

"He laid the law down," Phillippy said.

"We had discipline problems like carrying on in class or not studying hard enough. They wouldn't count as problems today. One day a boy put his hand on a girl's leg and Mr. Cross expelled him," Byers said.

Cross had an influence on Byers, who went on to graduate from Juniata College in 1933 and became a teacher. The country was in the midst of the Great Depression and the only job he could find was at a church school in Ontario, Canada. He was paid $30 a month and board.

Two years later he taught at a church school in Oklahoma for $50 a month and board.

He ended up teaching in the Greencastle-Antrim School District until he retired in 1977.

Byers still owns his first car, a 1929 Model A Ford that he bought new for $680 one year after he graduated from Greencastle High. The car has been restored and is in good working order.

The class has held reunions every three years since 1948 in conjunction with Greencastle's triennial Old Home Week celebrations.

This year's reunion will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the Antrim House Restaurant in Greencastle. A longtime tradition of classmates telling their personal histories will be dropped this year, Phillippy said.

"We already know everything about each other," she said.

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