Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

Emmitsburg HS Class of 41

Cheryl Ashbaugh-White

As I read the article my Aunt sent me regarding the reunion of the Emmitsburg High School Class of '41 for October 2001, I thought to myself, wouldn't it be neat to attend the reunion and hear stories about my father and meet his classmates. I remember my father attending his 40th reunion and saying how much fun he had. See my father passed away in 1988, and there would be no one to represent him at this sixth reunion celebration. I decided to take the necessary steps to attend his 60th reunion. I contacted Anna Mort, a sweet and most helpful lady. She had the most pleasant voice over the phone and I couldn't wait to meet her in person. She was overwhelmed that I wanted to come all the way from Louisiana to attend, and assured me there would be no problem in attending.

I asked my Uncle George (Tick) to be my date for the evening. He knew everyone from the area and I would feel comfortable with him around. I was right in both cases; I did feel comfortable and he knew everyone. He made his way through the crowd and begin talking to friends he hadn't seen in years. He was totally shocked when a young woman in her early fifties approached him and said, "You used to be my bus driver when I was in elementary school". They spent several minutes chatting with each other. He couldn't believe that she remembered him after all those years (about 45 years). I don't recall her name but I believe she was from the class of '66. All these years, I never knew my uncle drove a school bus. I always remember him working in the Ashbaugh's grocery store.

I started walking around the room to find our table. I not only found one table but two tables for the class of '41. The class of '41 had the largest turnout: 23 attendees to include a niece and several spouses. There was already several alumni's setting at their assigned seats when I found my seat and introduced myself as Harry Ashbaugh's daughter. I couldn't believe how many alumni knew I was coming and were eager to meet me. I was overwhelmed with their friendliness.

Lucy Ballinger introduced herself first and told me she has five children and knew my Dad well. As I was talking to Lucy, I felt a small delicate arm around my waist and as I turned I knew it had to be Anna. I was right, it was Anna. She hugged me. She said she knew it was me when I walked through the front door. I had my father's facial features. She was an adorable petite lady in her white lace blouse. At the end of our table sit Dean Hess. She has 5 children and taught school for many years and has a daughter in Salisbury, Maryland, teaching for 33 years. 

I sat next to Lee Fisher at our table for the evening. He must have been the school's clown during his high school days because he was going around introducing me as his daughter to everyone and getting a big laugh out of it. But on a serious note he told me his wife was in a Nursing Home and he goes every night to bathe and put her to bed. He left the reunion early to attend to her. They have been married for 56 years. I thought how sweet and loving to have a husband that was so devoted for so many years.

There were others from the class who came over to introduce themselves: William Simpson, a minister from Massachusetts. His first wife died and he remarried a lady who had been in the convent for 13 years. They were a cute couple sitting across from each other holding hands like newlyweds. I sat across from Sarah Shockley who has two children and said she started a family late in life. I wish I had more time to talk to the remaining alumni. I'm sure their life was as interesting as those I had already spoke to, but two hours was just not enough time.

Everyone said what a wonderful person my Dad was. A lump in my throat would form and a tear in my eye would always appear as they said those words to me. They weren't telling me anything I didn't already know. I listened as several of his former classmates told of the difficult time my Dad had going up and down the stairs to attend classes. My Dad had been wearing artificial legs since he was involved in a traffic accident at the age of five and lost both legs. But it never stopped him. He rode horses, played baseball (he would hit the ball and another boy would run the bases), and even went swimming. 

Mr. Simpson told me about the great marble player my Dad was and how they use to play marbles all the time at recess. I never knew my Dad played marbles. It is strange how you can live with someone for so many years and not know simple things about them. Mr. Simpson and Lucy also told me how they would carry my Dad's books for him while he climbed the stairs to his classes. Lucy made the comment; "she didn't know how he did it but he would slide down the stair railing". Mr. Simpson and Lucy both said they never heard him complain, always friendly and in good spirits.

I was honored to be part of the Class of '41 for a few hours and hope they will be together to celebrate their 70th. They are a remarkable group of individuals and part of this country's "greatest generation". I want to personally thank the Class of '41 for helping a very special little boy to attend school and have a normal school life. I'm sorry my Dad was not there to attend his 60th. His classmates will never forget him. I will always have fond memories of his 60th reunion.

Read other articles by Cheryl Ashbaugh-White

Have your own memories of Emmitsburg High School?  
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net