The First Kindergarten

Recollections by Jim Decker

First Kindergarten 'In the Station', Bratenahl, Ohio
First Kindergarten 'All Aboard', Bratenahl, Ohio

Bratenahl School’s first kindergarten reported for class in a little white house in September of 1937.

The building was located in the rear of the school astride the walkway from Burton Avenue to the rear entrance.  The present gymnasium, of course, had not yet been built.  The building was moved to the park after the school year in 1939 when the new wing of the school was constructed.  The building was later destroyed by fire.  It should be made clear that the old voting booth now standing in the park was not the kindergarten building.

The high point of that first year was a train ride taken by the class.  We were taken by bus (a real treat for the walkers among us) to the East Cleveland Railroad Station where we boarded a New York Central train for a trip to the Cleveland Union Terminal downtown.

After that exciting excursion, the class took on the project of creating its own train and station in our cozy little school.  The accompanying pictures show the results inspired by our trip and our teacher, Mrs. Richardson (Richards?).

In the pictures, Frances (Sue) Thoburn is the clerk behind the counter who is serving Charlie Britton.  At her side is Richard Durstine while Carol Larner looks on.  In the background is Jackie Hurst selling tickets to Ann Dornback while Jim Decker and Joe McKeon wait in line.

After boarding the train, the passengers, Ann Dornback, Jim Decker, Sue Thoburn, and Carol Larner, wait patiently for the conductor, Joe McKeon to inform the engineer, Jackie Hurst, that all are aboard.

Other memories of our school year include the very fine music created by our rhythm band.  The instruments were bells, clogs, sticks, a drum, and perhaps a tambourine.  I seem to recall Jerry Young was either the conductor or the drummer.  My sister, Alyce Decker now Aust, who was I believe in the third grade at the time, recalls being sent across from the main school to the kindergarten to get the drum for her class.  The class had only one drum.

The building was used the following year for its second and last kindergarten class.  It was then used as a recreation building for the summer playground program which the village then had.  It was also used for a change room for the ice skaters in the winter.  Many will remember listening to Jackie Davis play the piano so superbly before it and the entire structure deteriorated and finally burned.

The little white house served the village well and many have very fond memories of it.


The Girls

Margaret Callander

Ann Dornback

Kitty Ann Keal

Carol Larner

Nadja Muelhauser

Eleanor Rittershofer

Sally Selover

Frances Thoburn

The Boys

Charlie Britton

Bud Cleverly

Jim Decker

Alfred Dempsey

Richard Durstine

Jackie Hurst

Joe McKeon

James Smith

Jerry Young

I do recall that there was an even number of children in the class; there is either a girl missing or a boy listed who did not join the class until later.  Memory is imperfect.

[James Allen Decker was born on December 31, 1932 to Ralph and Verna Decker.  He lived at 10211 Foster Avenue and attended the Bratenahl School from Kindergarten to 8th Grade, graduating with the 8th Grade Class in 1946.]