Farrell school soon to become only a memoryby James A. Raykie Jr., Managing Editor
The Herald Spectrum
Saturday, April 7, 1984
When I walked (and ran) the halls of Farrell Junior High School from 1965 to 1967, I never would have believed that I'd return 20 years later to be haunted by the 76-year-old building
But haunting is the only word to describe the feeling Tuesday when I took probably my last walk - a treacherous and memory-filled one - through the school that affected the lives of four generations of students.
There's a lot of history here, yelled Ralph Unis of Unis Demolition Inc., as Farrell reporter John Zavinski and I stood on the wet, warped, moss-covered stage at the end of the auditorium.
There sure is sure is, I answered to the voice I didn't know. His company, with a low bid of $36,000, has begun to demolish the building.
Memories trapped between the pages of my mind. After three weeks of salvaging glass, steel, bricks and stones, a wrecking ball will serve the final pendulum. It effortlessly will crash its way through 76 years of history and reduce the yellow brick building to a pile of dust and rubble.
But the memories - both good and bad - of the administrators, teachers and students won't be erased as easily. It will take more than machinery to remove the recollections indelibly penned in the minds of the people who taught and learned there.
Although the building was showing its age when it was closed as a junior high school in 1972, it was refurbished and reopened as the Shenango Valley Center of Edinboro University. After Edinboro closed the center after several years, the building housed day-care and some federally funded programs.
Soon afterward, the building - which was opened Dec. 8, 1908, as South Sharon High School - was closed permanently. It became a prime target for vandals. Boards replaced windows, dark replaced light, silence replaced voices.
Although I had written a story about some memories of the school more than three years ago, I hadn't been in the building since graduating from the ninth grade in 1967. So when I had the opportunity to visit the school for the last time Tuesday, I couldn't pass it up. Zavinski grabbed his camera and I took him on a tour.
As we walked in the door facing Roemer Boulevard and carefully walked up the steps to the second floor, a creepy but nostalgic feeling began.
Memories trapped between the pages of my mind. Halls formerly filled with teachers and friends were filled with fallen plaster, dripping water and a few patches of ice. Caution was the password with every step. Overhead fluorescent lights, rusted from the porous ceiling, were ready to fall at any time. Floors, warped by the leaks as well, made walking a struggle.
We stopped by what was left of the auditorium. I remember playing the part of Herb Gordon in the high school's production of Stalag 17. And the cast - some are still in the area, some have moved away and others have died. I remember spending seemingly my entire sophomore year rehearsing for that play.
We moved on, past the steps where we frantically used to run to the cafeteria, to the gymnasium,or to other classes on the first floor. Farther down, we entered the balcomy of the gymnasium.
The gymnasium always was one of my favorite places. But it was a shell of the former hotbed of basketball. The floor was buckled beyond belief. Pigeons were roosting in the ceiling. The windows were broken. The only vestige was the old scoreboard, a relic that recorded hundreds of points scored by the many fabled Farrell cagers who played there.
A visit wouldn't have been complete without a stop at Room 27 - my eighth-grade homeroom. Zavinski and I entered. Room 27 was Russell Phillips' English class as well. Where my desk rested - at the end of the first row at the entrance of the cloak room - was a pile of rubble. The stylish cabinet behind Phillips' desk housing some books - like the gym - bore only a vague resemblance to the shelves I remember 20 years ago.
In 1965, the era of the personality-book craze and the desktop-football fad, Room 27 was where I managed some of my more intense work in those two fields.(Russ, I publicly confess.) But I managed to learn a great deal of English along the way.
Memories trapped between the pages of my mind.
As we walked by the door which led to Joseph Marasco's math class, I noticed our class was well-schooled in graffiti. Scratched deeply into the door was Good Luck to the Class of 1970
As we walked past Frank Sincek's geography room, I couldn't help but chuckle. I still could feel that paddle smacking my behind. It was the last time I talked while Sincek was trying to teach.
Walking the halls, the list of names began to grow. The people who helped teach me. Most are still teaching. Some I haven't seen for years. Others have died.
Although the school soon will vanish, the influence of Angelo Grande, Louis Morocco, Frank Sincek, Louis Mastrian, Joseph Marasco, Russell Phillips, Steve Karlovich, Felix Bonadio, Thomas Cimoric, Eugene Leonard, Petra Fammartino, Joseph Scarvell, John Popadak, Gene Vance, Anthony Kilbert, George Roskos, John Sava, Victoria Moldovan, Stephen Marin, George Joseph and others will remain a part of all of us who laughed and learned in that school.
When Unis locked the doors behind us and we got into Zavinski's car parked on Fruit Avenue near the main entrance, I remember vividly - as if it were yesterday - running down those steps with a group of my friends in 1967, exclaiming proudly: We're out of here now. We're finally going to get to high school.Out of this place!
High School. College. Jobs.
But the memories, good and bad, will last a lifetime between the pages.