Cass Union School
A Work of Love by
by Donald Potter and his Fellow Schoolmates of the Cass Union School
Southern Indiana, Cass Township
Launched - October 8, 2004
Welcome to the Cass Union School web page. A couple of days ago, Charlie Satchwill wrote me a surprise e-mail. It was a real surprise because I hadn't heard from him since the some time back in the 70's when I went to visit him in Muncie, Indiana. Charlie got me to thinking that we should do something to preserve the school's rich heritage. I had already posted a picture of Mrs. Monroe and my third-grade picture on the Education Page of my personal web site,
New Blog site: Cass-Union Blog. Everyone is welcome to join us.
Who knows, this web page might be the beginning of a great project to restore the old school to something of her former glory. Get those scanners to scanning and send me some pictures, stories, etc., to post here for all our fellow classmates and friends to see.
Here is an excerpt from a correspondence with Charlie Satchwill. Maybe it will spark some interest among us and produce some significant results.Charlie wrote:"If you have not seen Cass Union School lately, I would not recommend it. It is truly a sad looking and dilapidated place. If I lived in that area, I would like to find out who owns the building and make them an offer. Yes, I would like to buy the school building. Call it a pipe dream but I would like to renovate and totally restore it to the way it looked in the 50's. Part of it could be business condos, but at least one room should be restored to look like a 50's classroom. It could be a museum of mid-20th century Midwestern education. We would of course have a bookstore with a variety of teaching materials of both modern and historic significance. I know a lot of other people feel the same way. What we should form is a consortium, call it perhaps the Cass Union Preservation Society, CUPS for short. Or how about Friends of Cass Union School (FOCUS). That's a good one, don't you think? I'm sure you are familiar with the book Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Well, it's like that with Cass Union School. The most vital lessons in life we learned at home and at Cass Union such as playing fair, telling the truth, treating people right, doing your work, and not cheating. Not so much to learn, really. But it seems that today those values are under assault from every direction."
I agree 100% with Charlie: The values we were taught at home and at Cass Union "are under assault from every direction." We owe it to the youth of this generation to share with them the values that have enriched our lives through the decades.
Before Cass Union School, there was Fisher Elementary, a one room school house where my father attended. Here is a picture my cousin Genevieve Truitt (Potter) sent me: Fisher School. It is for the years 1938 - 1939. Cass Union opened the next year. My uncle Albert Potter is the teacher in the picture.
From Mr. Dillon R. Dorrell's precious history, The Ohio County Story (No date, my copy is autographed by the author and signed 12/4/83), I learned the teachers and dates for the school: Cass Union 1940 - 1972. Teachers: Florence Cook, Isabelle, Griffith, Eddie Gray (last teacher), Thelma Collins, Majorie McHenry, Pearl Monroe, Clarence Timberlake, Charles Sinclair, Ethel Palmer, Sue Barraclow 1943-1944, Albert Potter, James Rieman, Mrs. Woodson Porter, Jennie Rahe, and Elizabeth Bailey [Note: Albert (Ab) was my uncle and Elizabeth Bailey (Potter) was my aunt.]
My uncle Albert was my principal for the seven years I attended Cass Union. He taught me in the seventh-grade, but not the eight because we went to Rising Sun High for eight grade. Pearl Monroe taught me in first and second-grade until her untimely death sometime during my second-grade year. Uncle Albert insisted that we all go the funeral on a school bus to pay our respect to our wonderful teacher. I loved it when she would read to us big books like The Bears of Blue River. I believe Thelma Collins finished the year out, or it might have been someone else. Mrs. Porter was my third-grade teacher. I have always felt that she was one of the best teachers I ever had. We had Mrs. Stowe for fourth-grade. That class was in the basement at the back of the cafeteria. I remember that she was a good baseball player. There were only four classrooms for eight grades because each teacher taught two grades. There was no kindergarten back then, but the mothers understood that it was their responsibility and privilege to have us socially and academically prepared for first grade. And they did. I believe the seventh/eight grade teacher was usually the principal. I remember the discipline being of a firm but fair character. I distinctly remember Mrs. McHenry giving me a well deserved paddling for playing my harmonica during class, after being warned not to play it. I remember that Mrs. McHenry had a set of science fiction books on a book shelf by the front door that I loved to read. I would like to know what happened to all the books in the nurse's room (library?). I never knew where the box of books came from every month that showed up in our classroom until my Aunt Marge Potter (Albert's wife) took me to the Carnegie Library in Rising Sun. I started visiting that library every chance I had, and knew every nook and cranny. The boys all carried pocket knives to school. Oh, how things have changed! Today a student would spend some time in the youth center for carrying one to school. We played lots of mumblypeg (sp?) with those knives. I can't remember anyone loosing a toe!!! The janitor taught us how to whittle little boats and other things. The Huckster Wagon would drive by and throw us candy. I will never forget the janitor (Now we use the more distinguished name, Custodians.) used to ax the heads of the chickens and pluck the feathers right there on the school ground. It was no big deal because as country kids we were used to our mothers doing the same thing. It was mighty good fried chicken they served back then! We even had homemade butter and bread: Down Home Country Cooking. When it rained we would dam up the little creek (It was only a creek when it rained hard.) and float our school-made boats, taking off our shoes and rolling up our pants legs to wade in the water and squish through the mud. It is hard to believe that the teachers let us do that. We would even dig holes and tunnels in the playground with our knives. Maybe it was a holdover from the fox holes of WWII. The big event of the years was the school picnic in the woods next to Grandmother Potter's place across the road from the school.
Here is a picture of the students at Cass Union School from Dillon Dorrell's The Ohio County Community Story: Cass Union Students. Here is a picture of the school: Cass Union Building. Here are several pictures that Charlie Satchwell, a former fellow student, recently sent me: Picture1, Picture 2, Picture 3, Picture 4, Picture 5, Picture 7. I know these pictures will bring back fond memories. I am happy that the current owners have attempted to maintain the school. I understand that it has a new roof. The real problem, I am told, is the asbestos in the building. This will have to be removed or contained in a manner in compliance with health laws before the building can be used for public or private uses. I hope that the pictures will motivate us to think seriously about what we can do to restore the school to something of her former glory.
Here are some of my (Donald Potter) Report Cards. First Grade, Mrs. Monroe - outside. First Grade, Mrs. Monroe - Outside. Notice that it was signed by Mrs. Monroe and Mrs. Collins. I assume that Mrs. Thelma must have "team taught" some with her mother Pearl. First Grade, Mrs. Monroe - Inside.
Here is a picture of my Ronald and myself before school one year: Don and Ron ready for school.
Here is a picture of Mrs. Pearl Monroe and my grandmother, Gladys Bailey. Mrs. Monroe is the the lady laughing. Good Friends.
Here a picture of Mrs. Gullion, my third-grade teacher: Mrs. Gullion's Picture. She wrote a very nice note in our little memory book that I have never forgotten. Here it it is. Donald Potter: Scientist. She encouraged me "to hold on to, faith, love, and hard work and some day make us a great scientist.." These have been the hallmarks of my life, no doubt because she helped instill these classic Christian virtues into my life. I used to think her note was a prophecy that I was to be a scientist in the field of theoretical physics; but it turns out that I was to apply my talents to educational psychology. Educational Psychology turned out to be better than theoretical physics because it lead me to discover the critical importance of teaching all children to read with phonics-first. The end results are for all to see on the Education Page of my www.donpotter.net web site.
I have a Nationwide Education Reform Campaign started at www.blendphoncis.org.
Page last revised 1/3/13.
For those who are interested, I turned 65 on March 20, 2012.