Editor's note: The Johnstown Historical Society has designated 2008 as the year to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Johnstown High School building on Maple Street, also known as the Willis C. Adams building. Terry Priest, of the society, said an on-going project will be a written history that includes personal reminiscences from those who attended school there.

Editor's note: The Johnstown Historical Society has designated 2008 as the year to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Johnstown High School building on Maple Street, also known as the Willis C. Adams building. Terry Priest, of the society, said an on-going project will be a written history that includes personal reminiscences from those who attended school there.

Nearly all of my 12 school years were spent in the building that is now called the Willis C. Adams Middle School.

Seventeen other members of my JHS Class of 1958 can say the same thing. We began the sixth grade in the new Oregon Elementary school in September 1951 but were moved back to the old high school building on Nov. 2 because the Oregon school was found to be too overcrowded to accommodate us. Although I have virtually no memories of Oregon, I have lots of memories of the old high school building.

When viewed through the time span of over 50 years, my memories of my classmates and teachers are as clear as if they were standing with me this moment.

My school memories are in sync with a line in our alma mater, "The golden haze of student days" -- my school.

Our school year began the day after Labor Day and ended on the Friday before Memorial Day. Bad weather rarely closed the school, so there were no days to make up. We received a day off after Thanksgiving and a week or so around the Christmas holiday season. We were allowed to attend Good Friday services (with written parental permission). Otherwise, there was no "spring break."

The Class of 1958 entered Mrs. Helen Paige's first-grade class on Sept. 2, 1946. We were the 19th first-grade class to begin school in the "new" school building since it first opened in the late winter of 1928. At that time the entire Johnstown school system was contained within that single, three-story brown brick building, the site of a former peach orchard.

My mother, Ruth Eva (Priest) Butt (JHS '33), walked me to school on that first day. And also on the second day when she said, "I think that you can walk yourself from now on." And I walked to school for the next 12 years from our house on South Main Street.

The 12-year period from September 1946 through May 1958 was a time that proved to be a harbinger of growth in Johnstown. A new record student enrollment of 550 was reported in September 1946. New student enrollment records were set for almost every September for the next 11 years while we were in school. In response to this continued upward surge in enrollment, the Oregon Elementary School was built on the old football field and opened its doors in September 1951.

The school day began with the sound of a bugler on the second floor hall. In the classrooms, the students stood and faced the U.S. flag pinned above the blackboard in the front of each room. At the last sound of the bugler, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Outside three students, usually members of the local Boy Scout Troop 20, raised the flag. The bugler that I most remember is Lynn Melick, also a member of the local Boy Scout troop then. Lynn's dad, Eugene, ran Melick's Hardware.

In those distant, pleasant days Johnstown was a "two light" town as opposed to a "one horse" town. Traffic lights were suspended above the intersections at Main and Coshocton Streets and at Main and Pratt Streets. My class had graduated by the time additional traffic lights adorned other intersections in town. But those two lights were sufficient because traffic was so light.

Nevertheless, the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) worked with the school officials to establish a safety patrol. Composed of a captain, a lieutenant and several patrolmen, squads of junior high school boys stood at nearby street intersections with their white flags to assist the younger students across the streets.

For at least one of my junior high school years, I served as a patrolman and usually drew the assignment at Frederick's Corners (Maple and Main streets). My cousin, Ronnie Priest, was appointed captain of the safety patrol that season. Another classmate, Jay Middleton, served as Ronnie's lieutenant. Jay's older sister, Mary Jo (Middleton) Long, later served many years on the Licking County Board of Elections.

Students identified themselves as either "town kids" or "country kids". The town kids walked to school while the country kids rode in one of six yellow buses parked along the concrete sidewalk that ran parallel to North Oregon Street. In 1949 the village extended North Oregon Street from the school grounds to John S. Edwards Road.

Parking was hardly a problem at the school in those days. Rarely did any student drive to school. And, strange as this may sound, some teachers did not own an automobile. They, like the town kids, walked to school from local rooming houses.

At the end of the school day, the students burst out of the school building like bees from a hive. Most of the walkers streamed downtown where they broke into smaller groups moving slowly to their respective neighborhoods. Many of the kids made Lloyd's Drugstore their first stop, where the resident soda jerk concocted numerous ice cream dishes and coke or phosphate drinks. The old Lloyd's Drugstore soda fountain and the green booths in the back were ripped out after Harry Lloyd sold his drugstore. Happily for our stomachs, that took place a few years after our graduation.

Elementary classes (grades 1-6 with no kindergarten until 1950) were contained on the second floor. With our arrival in junior high, the elementary school classes had moved northward into the new Oregon Elementary School building. Excluding industrial arts, vocational agriculture and home economics, most high school classes were conducted on the third floor. Individual classes were subject to some shifting at the dictates of class size.

Elementary students received a morning recess, a longer one at the lunch hour and a short afternoon recess. Recesses ended when Floyd Wright, elementary principal and sixth-grade teacher, hammered the door bell that faced west toward the expansive playground. Students were expected to hasten quickly to the building to avoid the wrath that Mr. Wright sometimes visited upon the recess malingerers. And Mr. Wright could and did use a thick paddle to assist in the enforcement of school discipline.

Such stern measures as paddlings were usually referred to Mr. Wright. The receipt of a paddling at school was rarely reported to the home front, however, since that usually resulted in yet another paddling by dear old Dad.

Just so you will know: my knowledge of paddlings is simply that of an observer. I recall a male senior student who received a "couple of whacks with a paddle" on the day before the last day of school -- in his senior year! That must be a school record. No, I won't reveal the name of that paddled senior.

Most students brought their lunches in brown paper bags, which were usually folded carefully after lunch and taken home to carry the next day's lunch. A few students bought a hot lunch purchased for a quarter from the home economics staff. Teachers collected the lunch money first thing after morning attendance was taken. At lunchtime the students picked up their hot lunch and brought it to their desks. That done, our teacher led us in a short prayer of thanks and we were allowed to eat.

From our sixth-grade year and beyond, hot lunches were consumed in the Oregon School eating area. The "brown baggers" ate lunch on the old, gray concrete bleachers set against the east wall of the gymnasium.

Our fifth-grade teacher, Miss Illa Searfoss, was a JHS graduate (Class of 1938) and served our school district for many years. The newest elementary school, Douglas Street Elementary, was later named after Miss Searfoss, who replaced the retiring Mr. Wright as the elementary school principal the autumn following our graduation. Miss Searfoss gave us an early insight into the workings of government when she allowed us to listen to General Douglas MacArthur's address to Congress in April 1951.

All of our elementary teachers instilled in us the desire to learn. Mrs. Helen Paige (newly married the July before school started in 1946) was our first-grade teacher. Mrs. Beulah Moats was our second-grade teacher. Mrs. Moats lived across the street from me on South Kasson Street for several years. Mrs. Lucille Sites, a JHS graduate (Class of 1925) was our third-grade teacher. Miss Edith Cole was our fourth-grade teacher. She has since disappeared into the mists of time. And Mr. Floyd Wright, another JHS graduate (Class of 1914), was our sixth-grade teacher.

Each teacher "ran a tight ship," with scant tolerance for horseplay.

Submitted by Warren L. Butt, Johnstown High Class of 1958.

Warren L. Butt