The Bloomingdale High School

Bloomingdale students, 1931-1933. Mildred O’Neill Howard is second from the left, in the plaid dress in the second row. (Photos courtesy of Nancy Heath)

Thanks to my cousin Nancy Howard Heath, I have a history treasure — a photo of all students attending the Bloomingdale High School and the Elementary School in 1931-1932, a photo of the high school and a pile of copies of the school’s monthly student newspaper.

Nancy’s parents were Timothy and Mildred (O’Neil) Howard, and it was Mildred who saved all the above about the school when she graduated in the Class of 1933.

The student newspaper published this list of juniors in June 1932. If they all went on to graduate, and we have no reason to believe they did not, then this would be Mildred’s Class of 1933.

There were four girls in the class: Ruth Wardner, Anna Arnold, Elizabeth Kilgore and Mildred O’Neill. The family name is now spelled O’Neil.

The two boys in the class were Arthur Shene and Gaylord Wray.

The Bloomingdale High School — not dated (Photo provided)

There are plenty of names in the school newspaper, The Student Monthly. The editor-in-chief was Blanche Brown; associate editor, Marion Cochran; business manager, Arthur Shene; and circulation manager was Robert Dunn.

The roll of honor

We have the “Roll of Honor” for 1931 listing “high school” students as one group and the remainder by grade.

Graduation invitation (Photo provided)

“High School: Eleanor Atkinson, Rufus Weston, Blanche Brown, Ruth Wardner, Myrtle Skeels, Harold Montgomery, Arthur Shene, Marian Cochran, Mary Arnold, Edgar Arnold, Paul Shene, Stanley Skiff, Winifred Kelley and Grace Atkinson.

“Grade 8: named only Walter Wardner; Grade 7: Carl Shene, Alice Simpson, Hazel Cochran, Janice Barton and Blanche Smith. Grade 6: Mildred Hayes and Alice Brown. Grade 5: Donald Hayes and John Arthur Sprague. Grade 4: Frederick Smith, Beatrice Skiff, Robert Birk and Robert Wardner. Grade 3: Barbara Wardner, Phyllis Norman, Janice Smith, Charles Brewster, Walter Wolfe and Theresa Verutes. Grade 2 named only Ella Montgomery and Grade 1: Alice Alphonso, William Stephenson, Voula Verutes and Pearl Morency.”

Edited stories from the December 1931 monthly newsletter — this piece was by Harold Montgomery, Dec. 1, 1931:

Visit to the Enterprise

Class ring, 1933 (Photo provided)

“On Tuesday afternoon Professor Habecker’s English IV and History C classes visited the Adirondack Enterprise building at Saranac Lake. The students were shown the press-room of The Enterprise and they watched with interest the publication of the newspaper. The casting of type was demonstrated, and as the students left the press-room they were presented with a copy of The Enterprise.”

Smoking is dangerous

Helen Rasmussen wrote this story:

“Smoking is one of the dirtiest, most disgusting and expensive habits common today among the people of the world. As this habit is strengthened, the person’s will-power becomes weaker and thus it becomes more difficult for him to conquer the habit.

“Few realize that tobacco, in any form, contains one of the deadliest poisons in the world, nicotine.”

Advice for hair care

“If you are troubled with oil hair and it really collects all cooking odors, dust talcum powder through it and then brush thoroughly. It will absorb the grease and take away the disagreeable odor at the same time.” [No author listed.]

New stereopticon

“The school has purchased a new $75 stereopticon machine for the purpose of visual instruction. Loan slides are obtained free from the N.Y.S. Department of Education. This is a valuable asset to the instruction offered by the school. Already we have seen slides on Washington, Shakespeare, Rome, winter birds, etc. This is a forward step in Bloomingdale Union School.” [No author listed.]

Bad storm

[March 1932]

“All students from Franklin Falls and vicinity were delayed by the recent snow storm. The bus did not reach its destination until 10 o’clock Monday night.

Also — “The following students have been absent for some time on account of sickness: Gladys Hough, Joseph Hough, David Jones, Harold Bradford, Rufus Weston, Christine Shattuck and Kathlyn Downs.” [No author lised.]

Alumni news

“Patricia Parsons is attending a commercial school in Malone.

“Irene Gill is attending Plattsburgh Normal.

“Edith Arnold is teaching in AuSable Forks.

“Hilda Durkin is training at the Alice Hyde Hospital in Malone.

“William Atkinson is attending the Merchant Marine Academy in New York.

“Earle Towne is practicing mechanical dentistry at Saranac Lake. [Ouch! Is that the same method used by the old-timers who pulled their teeth with a pair of pliers?]

“Agnes Finnegan, Janet Sprague and Jeanette Ballard are attending Plattsburgh Normal.

“Maurice Finnegan is a commercial teacher at the Adirondack Commercial School.”

[Plattsburgh Normal was a school founded in 1889 for the training of teachers. It closed in 1948.]

Here are the six graduates in the Class of 1932:

“Eleanor Atkinson, Blanche Brown, Marian Cochran, Edgar Arnold, Paul Shene and Harold Montgomery.”

Under each name was a short quote, apparently written by classmates. Someone had great foresight with this one:

“Your elusive nature and love of fishin’ are signs that you’ll be a politician.”

The relative connection

The McKillip name connects so many families originally coming from Ireland and settling in Alder Brook.

Nancy’s grandfather was also named Timothy, and he was married to Mary Jane McKillip, sister to my grandmother Elizabeth McKillip, married to William Keegan, Aug. 12, 1895.

Connecting just a couple of a thousand dots: Winnie Howard [Mrs. Philip Sullivan] and Anna Howard [Mrs. Tom Hogan] were Nancy’s aunts and my mother’s [Elizabeth Keegan Riley] first cousins. Just those two created for us a slew of second cousins on the McKillip side of the family.

Our great-grandparents, born in Ireland [1813 to 1815, guessing from vague notes], were Patrick McKillip, married to Ann Dailey, who migrated to Alder Brook.

Nancy’s siblings were Shirley, Patrick, Brian, Joan and Norma.

The Keegan great-grandparents were Thomas Keegan, born in County Westmeath, Ireland in 1813, married to Margaret Dillon, born 1810 in County Antrim. Both died in Alder Brook: Thomas in 1897, no date found for Margaret.

My siblings Rita, Ray, Marguerite and Charles attended the Bloomingdale School in the 1930s when we lived on Norman Ridge. I was attending the one-room Porter School on the Fletcher Farm Road, which is now the home of Mark Kurtz. My sister Theresa was not yet of school age. We left the Ridge, moved to Saranac Lake and attended St. Bernard’s and Saranac Lake High School.


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