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Lunch with the William Penn High School Class of 1954

Members of the William Penn High School Class of 1954 meet monthly for lunch and conversation.

A few weeks ago, YDR reader Jo Ott invited me to join her high school class for lunch during one of their monthly meetings. So on Monday, I met with the William Penn High School Class of 1954 at Isaac’s, 2960 Whiteford Road, Springettsbury Township.

More than a dozen 1954 grads get together on a regular basis at either the Isaac’s in Springettsbury Township or the one in West York to have lunch and share stories about high school and what they are up to now.

They have been getting together for years, and they currently are planning a 60-year reunion for 2014, said Joyce Paules, who heads the reunion committee.

Susan Berkheimer brought her 1954 yearbook Monday to the luncheon at Isaac's in Springettsbury Township. She has lots of neat things tucked into the pages of the book, including photographs, newspaper clippings and cards.

Susan Berkheimer, who lives in Silver Spring, Md., but attends the monthly lunches, said many of the classmates have known each other for 70 years or more.

Berkheimer and classmate Edie Small were even born the same day in the same room at York Hospital. So they really have known each other their entire lives.

Back in the early 1950s, students from all over the county went to William Penn.

The high school was fed by Edgar Fahs Smith, Phineas Davis, Hannah Penn  and Mount Rose schools, said MaryLou Manley.

“And there were many, many elementary schools before you went to middle school,” she said.

I also learned a little bit about one-room elementary schools around York County.

Berkheimer even had this old record tucked away in her yearbook. It's a recording of Nat King Cole's 'That's All,' the William Penn High School Class of 1954's song.

Marian Hovis went to the Marks School in York Township.

“The year I passed eighth grade was the last year for the school,” she said. The school is now a single-family home.

Marjorie Rupp also attended a one-room school before her time at William Penn.

“It’s no longer there, it’s too old,” she said of Gehley’s Elementary in Windsor Township.

Berkheimer, shown here with her yearbook, told me several stories about going to school in York County. One day, her school had a dress up day, and the next, she and a friend wore jeans to school. She was told to go home and change into dressier clothes and the time it took her to do that would be the time she would serve in detention. She said she lived close to the school, so it didn't take too long, but she went as fast as she could to avoid a long, after-school punishment.

“We had outdoor toilets and no drinking fountain, students went to the farm and brought water buckets back to the school,” Rupp said. “We didn’t have anything to wash our hands with, either, and we’re still alive!”

Luncheon attendees including Berkheimer,  Ott,  Small,  Hovis, Rupp, Manley, Waltemyer,  Paules, Donna Mumma, Jo Alwine, Sally Keller, Norma Mangan, Jackie Morgan and Jeanne Barshinger made me feel at home during their lunch. I’m really glad I got to meet them all and hear all of their stories about the good times they had growing up and going to high school in York County.

Teddie Waltemyer, left, and Joyce Paules, obscured by the yearbook, showed me some of the activities they were involved in at William Penn. Paules was a member of the Sunlight Serenaders -- the school's band. 'I loved that group,' she said.