Archive for Wednesday, April 22, 1992

PINCKNEY CELEBRATES 60TH YEAR

April 22, 1992

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Pinckney School students are celebrating the school's 60th anniversary not only by remembering its past, but also by giving future students an idea of what Pinckney School is like today.

Pinckney has scheduled a special reunion for the school's current and former teachers and students from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 1. Meanwhile, Pinckney students are busy preparing questions for the many speakers who will talk about the school's history next week.

The present Pinckney School building, 810 W. Sixth, was built in 1931 at a cost of $129,000, and students first attended the school in the fall of that year. The original Pinckney School dates to 1872.

That first school also was built on Sixth Street, which was then known as Pinckney Street. The street took its name from an early American statesman, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.

Mei Mei Montgomery, who teaches fourth grade at Pinckney, said the original two-story building was expanded in 1884 for two reasons.

"Enrollment was growing, and they needed classrooms," Montgomery said. But a more pressing concern, she said, was that "the original building was in danger of being blown over by the high winds."

MONTGOMERY said the original building was heated by coal stoves until 1912, when steam heating was introduced to the school. She said the school also was without electric lights for at least the first 40 years it was used.

The present school building was erected next to the original building, which was torn down when the present building opened in 1931. Memories of the previous building linger.

Lucille Allison, who lives at the Brandon Woods Retirement Community, started attending Pinckney in 1912 as a first-grader. Her mother, the late Clementine Evans, also attended Pinckney, as did Allison's five siblings and three children.

Some of Allison's most vivid memories are of the area surrounding Pinckney.

"SIXTH Street wasn't paved, but it was a rather busy street because the Kaw Valley Creamery was right across from the school," Allison said. "Farmers would bring their milk there to be made into ice cream and butter."

Allison also remembers other nearby businesses, such as a blacksmith's shop, the West End Grocery and the West End Drug Store, where she often went after school to get a special raspberry soft drink.

Elfie Bailey, who also lives at Brandon Woods, taught Allison's daughter in the present school building. Bailey, who taught first grade at Pinckney from 1942 to 1955, especially remembers the present building's first principal, Opal Jayne Kennedy.

"She was a marvelous person. She took care of everything," Bailey said. "She kept that building polished up so that it always looked like brand new."

GARY Freeman, who has been principal at Pinckney since 1973, said the building still has a special charm with its oak woodwork and terrazzo marble floor.

A major remodeling at the school in 1957 included the construction of a new gymnasium. In 1969, new aluminum windows and steel doors were installed.

Someday, today will be yesteryear, so the students in Montgomery's class are writing letters to future students describing what Pinckney is like now. The students also took Polaroid shots of landmarks in the Pinckney area.

Student Colin Baumchen took a picture of a favorite tree.

"This sycamore tree found at 400 Indiana reminds me I am almost home from a walk or school," Colin wrote for the picture's caption.

STUDENT Caryn Cain took a picture of the tunnel that students use to safely get across Sixth Street. The tunnel was built in 1951 around the time Sixth Street underwent a major expansion.

Freeman said he was really enjoying the 60th anniversary celebration.

"We're finding out more about Pinckney School than I ever dreamed possible," he said.

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