Amelia school demolition a sad occasion

July 2nd, 2010    Author: Richard Crawford    Filed Under: Opinion

It’s going to be a very sad day for so many thousands of us.

The second Amelia High School building to be constructed on the site (5 E. Main Street) will be coming down soon. It was built in 1931. The first building on the lot was erected in 1870 and it came down in 1962 after part of its second floor ceiling collapsed, fortunately late at night when no one was in the brick two-story building. It stood on what is now the vacant (now a parking lot) lot to the east side of the old 1931 high school building. The bricks for the 1870 schoolhouse were fired in John Robinson’s kiln that stood on the corner of Main St. and Huntington Ave. Originally two rooms, it was expanded to eight rooms in 1924.

The buildings were constructed on the farm land of John Robinson. He was the village undertaker who moved to the west side of 1 W. Main St.. He and his wife, Sarah, arrived in the village from New Jersey in 1827. There is a legend that the Robinson family donated the property to the school system with an agreement that if the site was no longer used for educational facilities and purposes it would return to the Robinson family. This has never been validated and it is not known if any of the Robinson descendants still live in the village or the surrounding area.

The first Amelia High School class to graduate from the old building was in 1892. The last class to graduate from this building was in 1960. The last year the building was used for a high school was the 1960-61 school year. The class of 1961 graduated from the just completed new high school building out on Clough Pike.

On the front lawn are trees specifically planted and dedicated in the memory of former teachers and students. A Clermont County Bicentennial tree was planted in 2000.

Two monuments also stand there.

One is composed of bricks of the old Batavia Township District No. 10 School. On it is carved “This is the dedicated stone of the original Amelia school. In memory of the building and educators serving this community, 1870-1962.” On the other monument is noted “1941 Memorial 1945. Oakley Brock, Craig Byrd, Stanley Glancy, Robert West, Roy Sellers, William Rolke, Edward Cornell, Harold Webb, J. C. Butts, Arthur Bachelier, James Coslett, Alvin Beard. To those who made the supreme sacrifice for God and Country in World War II.”

The new high school, upon its construction on Clough Pike, became known by those upset that the high school was no longer in the village as “the big glass cow barn” or “the cow barn in the middle of a corn field.”

The other building at 5 East Main has always been used as an elementary.

The first public school kindergarten classes taught in Clermont County were at Amelia beginning with the 1955-56 school year. Split into two sessions (morning and afternoon) because of the enormity of the kindergarten class (approximately 50 students at the beginning of the 1955-56 school year, 28 of us graduated together on May 26, 1968). The future Amelia High class of 1968 had its classes take place in the high school girls locker room.

It was a very confusing year for the 5 and 6-year-olds. The year began with a teacher by the name of Miss Eileen Carr. When everyone returned from the Christmas holidays a woman who looked exactly like Miss Carr (one blue eye and one green eye, really the honest truth) asked us to begin calling her Mrs. Frances. Eileen Carr married Jack Francis during the Christmas holiday.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned that my teachers actually had first names and were seen in public, shopping, dining out, or doing other life activities like normal people.

Everyone remembers having to walk the brown lines in the hallways of the elementary building and how terrified everyone became if they happened to just make a step off the line. Sometimes the best way to get even with someone you didn’t like was to push them off the line and then tell the teacher that person got off the dreaded brown line.

And the principal, Mr. Stanley Anstaett, at times would paddle students from his office with the intercom turned on throughout the building for everyone to hear the spanking. Talk about terror! That, and the rumor Mr. Anstaett use an electric paddle, whatever that was, but it sure had us terrified, dazed, and confused in the 1950s.

Many of those of us who went all the way through school at Amelia remember the baseball field was the home of the state Class B Ohio High School champions of 1950 and that the new elementary building opening in 2011 not only covers it, but the first Amelia High School football field and the first varsity team of the the 1956-57 school year was unbeaten. The basketball court was the site of a state record (1946-52) of winning 45 consecutive games at home primarily under head coach Joe Cruse and some under Cliff Wettig whose daughter was born while he taught and coached at Amelia. Today, Patricia Wettig is a motion picture and television star who would have graduated with us in 1968.

First through 12th graders all rode the school bus together and ate lunch at the same time, but the high school kids got to eat lunch at the restaurants or malt shops in town.

We always began scared, but enjoyed the break when the fire alarm went off and no smoke or fire was seen, or the alarm went off for us to get under our desks to train for a possible nuclear bomb going off after being dropped on the village. Today, all of that seems almost ridiculous, but it was very serious at the time.

I didn’t realize how much I would reflect on and miss until its all going down. How I would love one last time to speak and say “thank you” and “goodbye” to some of the greatest educators (Mrs. Frances, Mrs. Freeman, Mrs. Cooper, Mrs. Dunn who I still go to Amelia United Methodist Church with and who allowed me to read an 11th grade American history book in fourth grade, Mr. Freeman, Mrs. Anstaett, Mrs. Shrive, Mr. Angel, Mr. Wooten, Mrs. Ketcham, and Mrs. Higgins, and Mr. Anstaett, the already mentioned principal) anyone was fortunate enough from whom to be educated. And some of the greatest friends in the world. And of course mom and dad (Catherine and Theodore L. Crawford). So many are gone. God bless you all from a most respectful, appreciative, and humble person.

Richard Crawford is a staff writer at The Clermont Sun.

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