Memories of Bratenahl in the 1940s

Recollections of John Baldwin III, June Ryan (Holop), Raphael Silver, Charles Kapitsky and Frances Thoburn

John D. Baldwin III, 8th Grade Class of 1940

Memory: I believe my mother was the first president of the Bratenahl PTA. I clearly remember her sparring with a village matriarch who felt the teachers' lounge in the new school addition should not be in the basement. Mother and her supporters prevailed, and the lounge went onto the main floor.

The art teacher was likely Frances Barre. The fourth-grade teacher, who succeeded Maud Tilton in the fall of 1936 or 1937, was Miss [Gertrude] Roberts. Shirley Jones [Class of 1938] would have been in the seventh or eighth grade, so I suggest she learned lovely writing from Mrs. Carter, who came in one or two days per week to teach Spenserian Penmanship.

[John D. Baldwin III was born on July 13, 1927, to John and Pearl Baldwin.  His father was a draftsman.  While attending the Bratenahl School, John lived at 13817 Lake Shore Boulevard.  John attended the Bratenahl School from 4th to 8th Grade, graduating with the Class of 1940.]

June Ryan (Holop), 8th Grade Class of 1941

Memory: We were the children molded by the firm, gentle, dedicated teachers who had an encyclopedia of knowledge to share with their charges. It made no difference if you were a rich child or a poor child, you were there to get an education, and they saw that this goal was achieved. Everyone got the same assignments, and the work had to be turned in on the date due. I remember Miss [Selma] Sandberg saying one time, "If the student hasn't learned, then the teacher hasn't taught."

These are some Summer remembrances. Great fun days at the park. Many miles on my turquoise and chrome Roadmaster bike. Singing around a driftwood fire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. The wonder of the Northern Lights and counting shooting stars. The sound of music from the Buffalo boat as it made its run past our house. Boy Scout Jamborees on the Bingham estate. The Sea Scouts launching rowboats in our creek. Understanding the word patience when I spent hours fishing with my Dad and two rock bass for a day’s catch.

Winter was a fun time in the village. We used to ice skate on the tennis courts at the park or on the creek after it would freeze. I still have a pair of skis, the kind that had leather straps that fit over your shoes. Sledding down our driveway was a real challenge. If you didn't navigate the first turn. It meant over the hill and into the creek. Hot chocolate with a giant marshmallow helped us keep warm, plus the big driftwood fire my Dad would build. Steam would come from our clothes when we stood by the fire.

[June Ryan Holop was born on July 24, 1926, to Peter and Nellie Ryan.  Her father was a police officer.  While attending the Bratenahl School, June lived at 12023 Lake Shore Boulevard.  Alice attended the Bratenahl School from 1st to 8th Grade, graduating with the Class of 1941.]

Raphael David Silver, 7th Grade Class of 1942

Memory: The day I broke one of the large plate-glass windows in the front of the school with a baseball while the principal, Sara Bair, was inside the room.

I never finished at Bratenahl. We moved to Shaker Heights during my last year. What a shock. From small classes to large ones and from so much individual attention to a large school's impersonality. I remember biking back to Bratenahl whenever I could to join the softball games and visit old friends.

Donald and David Dornback [Both in the 8th Grade Class of 1943] were in my class. Roy Johnson, who was also in my class, became my best friend, and we spent long hours climbing trees on the bishop's estate and wandering the shores of the lake in search of treasure. My first experience smoking was smoking grapevine with Roy in a cave made by the breakwater down by the lake. We never dared to try real cigarettes, at least not when we were nine or ten.

I broke a big plate-glass window in the schoolroom throwing stones. I ran away and then came back, prodded by my mother, to confess to Miss [Sara] Bair.

My friends and I would hook our sleds to a rope tied behind David Thoburn's grandmother's car, driven by her chauffeur. He pulled a bunch of us round and round her circular driveway on Lake Shore Boulevard. I can't believe it really happened, but it did.

We would go down the hill and under the tracks and up the hill again to Murphy's, a small candy store. There we all bought war cards that came with bubble gum. We tried to get the silver or gold foil covered gumballs in the gumball machine, which would get us a candy bar or ice cream bar for free.

[Raphael David Silver was born on January 18, 1930 to Abba Hillel and Virginia Silver.  His father was a rabbi and poster artist. While attending the Bratenahl School, Raphael lived at 10311 Lake Shore Boulevard.  Raphael attended the Bratenahl School from 1st to 7th Grade, moving from the village in 1942.]

Charles Edward Kapitsky, 8th Grade Class of 1944

Memory: Even today, I am in awe of Selma Sandberg's composition and grammar lessons. I learned nothing of composition and grammar after her. Didn't have to; she gave it all to me.

[Charles Edward Kapitsky was born on July 29, 1930, to George and Marian Kapitsky.   His father was an auditor.  While attending the Bratenahl School, Charles lived at 13025 and 1246 Lake Shore Boulevard.   Charles attended the Bratenahl School from 1st to 8th Grade, graduating with the Class of 1944.]

Frances Thoburn, 8th Grade Class of 1946

Memory: Must have been 1938 or 1939. I remember vividly watching the large new furnace being rolled across the playground on several logs. The workmen would pick up each log from the back, that had rolled out from under the slowly progressing furnace. They would run around to the front and place it so the furnace could move forward on it. Miss [Edna] Aldredge let us stand in that wonderful first-grade room's windows and marvel at how several men and several logs could accomplish the impossible.

[Frances Southworth Thoburn was born on February 29, 1932, to Theodore and Francis Goff Thoburn.  While attending the Bratenahl School, Frances lives at 10125 Lake Shore Boulevard.  Francis was a member of the first kindergarten class at the Bratenahl School.  She attended all 8 grades and graduated with the Class of 1946.]