While researching potential images and stories to share in the last chapter of Images of America: Rock Springs Park entitled, “The Magic Lives On,” I was told of a group of volunteers who were putting together a Memory Room in a classroom of the old Chester High School Building, now the City’s Municipal Building. The room, I discovered upon visiting in 2009, was originally set aside as the Mayor’s Office, but the mayor gave up his new “digs” and moved upstairs, opening up the classroom on the main floor to the Memory Lane Committee.
In my youth, the old high school was an intermediate/junior high, including grades four through nine. "Memory Lane" was my fifth grade language arts room. Specifically, I recall drawing a winter mural scene on the blackboard with a variety of colored chalk sticks. The teacher was enthusiastic about my artwork until it was discovered one of my dark green pieces of chalk was actually a fat crayon. I was worried upon entering the same room, thirty-four years later, that the blackboard would still be there, complete with my impossible-to-remove wax evergreens. Fortunately, though, the they have all been removed and, other than the view out the window, the classroom looks nothing like the one I remember. The intsitution green walls are now white.
View of the old high school beyond the Cyclone taken from the top of the Aeroplane Ride in Rock Springs Park circa 1947. The school is shown prior to an addition being added, which would house additional clasrooms and one day The Memory Lane Room. (Courtesy of Sherry Emery.)
When I took the photographs below inside the old high school in December 2009, I was using a low-grade disposable camera as I had forgotten my digital camera at home, thus most of the dark and grainy images were not used in the book. (I had hoped to take a photograph of the Memory Lane Volunteers, but we were not able to coordinate it. The women are listed in the book on page 127.) The Memory Room project was just getting started when these photographs were taken and would not officially open until June 21, 2010, coinciding with a slide show talk I gave in the cafeteria, sponsored by the Chester Kiwanis Club to kick off the publication of the book.
In the hallway outside my old Fifth Grade Language Arts class is the Chester Hall of Fame and Local History Displays. Inductee Plaques are hung above the display cases which were originally embedded with student lockers.
Inside the Memory Lane Room of the Chester City Building, two Hans Hacker paintings are on display. These were donated by Robert M. Hand, oldest son of owner Robert L. Hand. Bob willed the paintings to the city as per his mother Virginia’s wishes. The Log House (left) was once the family home of the Hands in Rock Springs Park. The second Hacker Painting is of the Carousel. Hacker, a celebrated decal and ceramic designer who fled Nazi Germany in 1939, painted hundreds of scenes of his new home, East Liverpool, OH, and the surrounding area.
Bob Hand, oldest son of Rock Springs Park owner Robert L. Hand is pictured in the hallway of the Chester’s City Building along with my mother, Margaret Cline, in the Chester High School Class Portraits of 1956.
My Grandfather, Clifford Otto Comm, a charter member of Chester's Kiwanis Club, was posthumously inducted into the Chester Hall of Fame on July 1, 2011. I was able to attend the ceremony, but have yet to see his plaque displayed along with the other inductees. I look forward to seeing it and Memory Lane again, soon!