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Fairplay School alumni share memories

August 18, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Danielle Gallupe of Knoxville, Md., practices jousting with her horse, Daisey, Sunday at Old Tilghmanton Tournament Woods in Fairplay. Rain cancelled the events for Fairplay Days at the park.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

FAIRPLAY — Memories of the old Fairplay School included teachers, activities such as Field Day at Hagerstown’s City Park, having three grades in one room and the long walk to school.

“And it was, for me, it was a long walk. I had 2 1/4 miles to walk,” said Virginia (Bowers) Duttinger, who attended the three-room school in the late 1930s.

Louise (Skelton) Hartle said it was a long, hard walk of more than a mile from her home, halfway between Fairplay and Bakersville, to school in all kinds of weather.

“I can remember the cold, winter winds as much as anything. It was horrible,” said Hartle, 85.

With rain canceling jousting on the last day of Fairplay Days, most people at Tilghmanton Woods Community Park on Sunday afternoon were at the pavilion listening to gospel music and reminiscing.

Minerva (Warrenfeltz) Trimmer said she walked about 1 1/2 miles to school, through a farmer’s field, and about 2 1/2 miles home along the roads.

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“Well, if the farmer was plowing with the horses, sometimes he’d set us up on the horses and let us ride along for a little bit. ... And then we went through the farmer’s barnyard and we got to play in the horses’ watering trough. And we got chased by a goose that I hated,” said Trimmer, making a hissing sound, then a weird face followed by laughter as she described the goose snapping at her and her younger brother.

“And we got muddy, and we got wet, and we got snowed on, and whatever happened, happened. You went to school anyway,” Trimmer said.

Homer Abbott, 78, said he walked more than a mile to Bakersville to get on the school bus.

“I loved school. I got out of a lot of work milking the cows ... and pulling weeds down on the farm,” said Abbott, who was the only child in his family to finish high school.

Duttinger, 87, who lives in Hagerstown, said she quit school in 1940, at age 14, because she was having fainting spells on the way to school. A doctor said it wouldn’t be safe for her to walk to school alone anymore, so she stayed home and helped her father on the farm.

“I was harnessing horses before I knew anything about the kitchen,” Duttinger said.

Later, as Duttinger pointed out she and Hartle were in the same class, Hartle looked at Duttinger and said, “Are you the one I passed the note to that time and I got in trouble about it?”

Duttinger said she didn’t know. She did remember that when their classmates took a school bus trip, it was she and Hartle who were left behind to “hold the classroom down” because they didn’t have permission to go on those excursions.

Hartle said her older brother, Albert Skelton, also attended Fairplay School, but he was killed during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, four days before he would have turned 19 years old.

Trimmer said she still remembers the Joyce Kilmer poem “Trees,” which her Fairplay class had to sing in front of the school building to parents, including parents of the boys killed during World War II.

The old schoolhouse, at 18005 Tilghmanton Road, is now boarded up and was used for storage by the Fairplay Volunteer Fire Department, which has been out of operation for several months.

The school closed in 1971, according to a printed history of the school that was written by Mike Barnhart and provided at the informal reunion Sunday.

At least 50 alumni stopped by Sunday to share memories and look over old photos, said Trimmer’s sister, Barbara Shipe, who encouraged alumni to visit the park pavilion.

Abbott remembered at least two teachers, Miss Earley and Bud Poffenberger, who was strict.

If it hadn’t been for Earley, Abbott said he wouldn’t have finished third grade.

Trimmer, 79, of Greencastle, Pa., said she really liked music class, which was taught by Hazel Snively.

“We always thought she was some kind of an opera singer, but she was probably just a good soprano,” Trimmer said.

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