Please return with me to the thrilling formal education days in Leadville in the early 1950s. We had the Leadville High School and three elementary schools: Ninth Street, St. Mary’s and Central. Some of the “fun” activities we had have gone by the wayside, like the Senior Fair at the old Sixth Street Gym, slouch day, skip day and trip day. We always looked forward to other activities, too, like the high school proms, plays and our basketball season. Basketball was the only formal league sport we had back then.
When we took Mr. Stoner’s woodworking class in high school, we had to go down to the Central School. When I took that class I learned a lot about different kinds of wood and how to prime, stain and paint it. One project I completed was a shoe shine kit that consisted of a storage section in the bottom and the sole of a wooden shoe-likeness on the top. It was very beautiful and functional. My older brother John took on a very ambitious project when he was in that class. We had a Ford pick-up that we used in our milk business and had been using a tarp on the bed of it. John built a very precise wooden box, level with the top of the cab with two door openings in the back with a neat latch. He painted it green to match the color of the truck. George Mitchell, a very tall and extremely talented sign painter of that time, completed the job with our dairy name, selected dairy products and 230 phone number on both sides of the box.
If you wanted to take Miss Webert’s high-school home- economics class you had to go over to Ninth Street School. The class was taught in the basement which also housed the furnace and living quarters for the two Locke brothers who were the janitors. It was rare for any boys to take home economics but my brother John and his friend Bob Ossman did do that and joined all the girls for that experience. They passed the class with flying colors. That did not surprise me because brother John loved to cook and bake. He especially liked to bake very delicious pies. He grew up by our mother’s side in the kitchen and loved every minute of it.
There are some other exciting stories about Ninth Street School. One of them involves the time when one of the Locke brothers fell off the second story ledge while washing the window. Another is the tack chair located in the closet of the mathematics classroom of the principal, Mrs. Pitts, that was used to punish unruly students. That was referred to as the time-out pain experience. In the early grades at Ninth Street we were seated in alphabetical order. I remember that Vernon Nygren sat in front of me, Ralph Pearce sat behind me and Howard Tritz sat further back.
If you would like more information about these old days, all you have to do is sit down with a very popular man who still lives in our two-mile high city. He is a very dear friend and classmate of mine whom I would like to recognize with the title of Mr. Leadville – Howard Tritz. Way to go, Howard.