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Fisher is walking, talking Old Home Week history book

July 08, 2010|By DANA BROWN
  • Dick Fisher looks over old programs from past Greencastle (Pa.) Old Home celebrations. A lifelong borough resident, Fisher is the oldest still living, past president of the Old Home Week Association, which hosts its 37th week-long festivity July 31 to Aug. 7.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - When the siren sounds around 11:30 p.m. or so on Aug. 1, 90-year-old Richard L. "Dick" Fisher will be among the revelers gathering on center square for the "unofficial opening" of the Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week triennial celebration.

"We'll be there," Fisher said speaking about himself and Ethel, his wife of 65 years.

"I don't get to bed until 2 o'clock in the morning," he said.

A lifelong borough resident, Fisher is the oldest living past president of the Old Home Week Association, which hosts its 37th week-long festivity July 31 to Aug. 7.

Fisher hopes Old Home Week will bring him together with a few old classmates from his graduating class of 1939.

"I want to see if they are as old as me," he said with a laugh.

While the near-midnight gathering on center square is at the top of Fisher's Old Home Week itinerary, he also plans to take the stage and pose with other past presidents and the association's board of directors - along with hundreds others - for the Official Old Home Week Picture, a group photo taken on the square.

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Fisher's been in the group photos for as far back as he can remember. In several instances he can even be seen in the same photo twice.

As a 12-year-old, Fisher said he got the idea of being in a single photograph twice by standing at one end of the crowd for the first shot captured by the panoramic camera and then quickly running to the other end before the rotating camera could capture the last image. Looking over the old photographs makes him laugh as he points to his face, "there I am and there I am again." He said he isn't the only one who caught on to the idea.

"But I couldn't run that fast now," Fisher said.

Fisher has served on many of the Old Home Week committees in addition to being a past president.

For many years, he and his wife Ethel spearheaded the Adult Dance featuring ballroom dancing, something they've done together ever since they met in 1943. They plan to attend the dance this year as well.

"Oh, we'll dance," he said. "If I am able."

Another memory that brings a smile to Fisher's face is the recollection of a near-disastrous fireworks display during his presidency.

"We burned some cars," Fisher said. "Nothing serious," he quickly adds. Only the tops of a few cars were scorched a little from some of the falling sparks, he said, "but no one complained." The next day, he added, the association decided it was time to get insurance and an attorney.

One particularly humorous Old Home Week memory for Fisher is the year that saw some unintended entertainment when a local resident, dared by someone to do it, ran naked through center square. While Fisher and his wife didn't catch a glimpse of the streaker, the crowd around them certainly did, he said.

"They made a lot of noise," he said. "Everyone was laughing and hollering."

Fisher's love of Old Home Week is reflected in his memorabilia collection of photographs, programs and badges, part of which will be on display at Old Home Week Headquarters in Tower Bank. His collection of badges date back to 1953 with the first badge to feature a photograph of Philip E. Baer, the founder of Old Home Week.

Even though Fisher has attended many Old Home Week celebrations throughout his 90 years, this year he will get to do something he has never done before. He will join others at the original site of the first celebration held in 1902 - then called "Old Boys' Reunion" - for a picnic at Sandy Hollow along the Conococheague.

"I've been here all my life and I don't know where it is," he said.

Ben Thomas Jr., current Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week Association president, said he appreciates the contributions Fisher and others of his "greatest generation" have made toward continuing and growing the triennial tradition.

"It's great to have their mentorship and assistance when I need it," Thomas said.

Fisher said that while many things have changed since he was president in 1968, the spirit and the tradition of the celebration has remained strong.

"It's pretty much remained untouched," he said.

Ethel Fisher shares her husband's enthusiasm for the event's focus on reconnections, reminiscing and reunions with people they haven't seen in years.

"It's just really great to see all the people come home," she said.

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