Baltimore County

School memories continue at Aberdeen Museum

School days at the Aberdeen schools are forever in the minds of graduates, teachers and all those who have fond memories of those days gone by.

At the Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum, the "School Corner" is a very popular part of the exhibit area. Yearbooks and old photos of teachers and students are always of interest to young and old. Thanks to the many donors of memorabilia, the collection just grows and grows.

Marita Watts, a retired teacher, principal and school administrator in Harford County, has just brought some of her collection of books, clippings and photos into the museum. What memories she has! After graduating from Salisbury State Teacher College in 1946, she started her career in Aberdeen.

The clippings and photos are priceless. There are 1980 and 1982 photos of Hillsdale School, and those of the staff at that time. There is an earlier photo of seven elementary school teachers and community leaders. Included are Rotarian James Clessures, Commissioner Ted Collier, PTA President Pearly Finnessey, first graduate of Aberdeen High School J. Wilmer Cronin and Superintendent of Harford Schools Charles Willis. The seven honored teachers included Mildred Coale, Helen Cronin, Margaret Babka, Marita Watts, Marie Watts, Marie Tolch, Bessie Forwood and Helen Fisher. There are clippings of the same teachers in the "Harford Democrat" and "Aberdeen Enterprise" as well.

There is also a 1968 and 1969 photo of the faculty of Hillsdale School. Included in the collection is a 1953-54 photo book of the faculty of the Aberdeen Elementary School when Helen Price (Fisher) was principal. First-grade teacher Helen Cronin is shown in her classroom, as well as Marie Tolch. Marita was a fifth-grade teacher at Aberdeen Elementary at the time.

In this column just a few weeks ago, we talked about the history of the old elementary school that is now the Harford County Community Services Building that closed to children in 1973. The Watts collection included the program from the closing ceremonies at the school on Sunday, July 1, 1973, and the clipping from the "Harford Democrat."

The clipping and program told of the formal closing with Principal Lloyd Fry as master of ceremonies. Harford School Superintendent A.A. Roberty introduced the platform guests. Robert Jamson, president of the PTA, presented the history of the school to Board of Education President Miles Hanna. Mayor of Aberdeen Gorge Adams and former State Sen. J. Wilmer Cronin spoke. Sixth-grader Kathleen Smith and State Sen. William James also addressed the large audience.

"The Board of Education has decided that the school will no longer be used now that the new Aberdeen Middle School and other schools are available for the students who closed the school this month. The three story brick building will be deeded to the County Government which in turn can use it for County business, turn it over to the Town of Aberdeen or sell it," explained the "Harford Democrat."

There is a clipping of the front page article when Marita Watts retired from her very well-remembered career, and all the collection has become part of the school exhibit and family files.

Other donations include tickets from the former Ripken Museum from Bettye and Mike Danish. They also contributed to the special supplement of September 1988 from the "Harford Sun" of the 7th Annual Business Expo "Harford Has It."

William Benjamin III brought in the old light fixture from the Aberdeen Fire Department when it occupied the 1948 building on the corner of West Bel Air Avenue and North Parke Street.

Judy Hinch donated the Aug. 10-19, 2012 "World Series" book. One of the young baseball players from Canada gave us a souvenir Canadian flag at the time of the big parade with all the young people from around the world.

We continue to fill the many file cabinets from the "Harford Democrat" newspaper office with file copies of events of the past. One special memory is from June 7, 1997 special edition "Aberdeen's All America City Dream Leads to Kansas City." Photos of committee members who worked so diligently included Chairman Mary Lou Thompson, Peter Dacey, Phyllis Brock, Charles Jacobs II, Romona Bennett, Karen Drewen, Robert Magee, Denise Carnaggio, Barbara Gleason, Jane Fleming, Jerome Lacey, J.B. Redding, Jerry Hansen and Rev. Nathaniel Johnson.

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