Peggy is a gradute from the New Windsor School. Her mother and father drove a school bus for Carroll Public Schools.
STELLA: Today is September 27, 2008. I’m Stella [INAUDIBLE]. And with me is Peggy Fritz Conrad. She’s agreed to be interviewed today as part of the local history project for the old New Windsor School here in New Windsor. And behind the camera is Paul Oakes recording.
Um, our goal is to preserve some of the memories of the people who grew up here or who’ve lived here before the memories are gone. Before I ask– ask you any specific questions, Peggy, would you like to say something?
PEGGY CONRAD: Just that I feel honored to have been a graduate of the New Windsor School. We’re about to celebrate our 50th class reunion next year. Graduated in 1959. So we were the last class to graduate from this high school. I’m very proud of that.
STELLA: That is an accomplishment. Did you live here in town or did you live out on a farm?
PEGGY CONRAD: I’ve lived out in the country. My dad drove a school bus for 45, 50 years. And then when he was a little older, my mother took over and drove for a few years too. So he took me on the bus long before I ever met– went to school. He would take me on the bus with him, which is something I’m sure you couldn’t do today.
STELLA: So that means you didn’t walk, like, 25 miles in, like, five feet of snow.
PEGGY CONRAD: Oh, no. No. I got on the bus and went.
STELLA: Oh, good. Would you like to tell us a little bit of what it was like during the day in, perhaps, first grade.
PEGGY CONRAD: Mhm. I can remember in the first grade one of my fondest memories, I guess is– of course, I was used to getting out and going so when I went to school I wasn’t afraid or any of that. But I remember that New Windsor had a little movie theater across the street here. And the whole school was getting to go to see Seabiscuit. I’ll never forget. Back before the new Seabiscuit came out.
And the first grade was the only grade that didn’t get to go. And I cried all day long because everybody was getting to leave school to go to see Seabiscuit except us. I couldn’t believe it.
STELLA: And your teacher in first grade was?
PEGGY CONRAD: Miss. Griffin then.
PEGGY CONRAD: Mhm.
PEGGY CONRAD: And later became Mrs. Roope.
STELLA: Mhm. And so you were another student crying in our class as she said earlier?
PEGGY CONRAD: Right. Right. That only lasted one day though. Thank heavens.
Then I remember moving on to second grade. And Mrs. Green was our teacher. She was a wonderful, wonderful teacher.
And again, I can remember third grade was Miss. Kerry. Fourth grade was Mrs. Roope. Ah, fifth grade was Mrs. Harman. And sixth grade was Miss. Ivy.
And Miss. Ivy taught at the school here for many, many, many years. I don’t know how many, but she was here for a long, long time. So I just– I think our children today really are missing something by not being in a small school like this is.
The opportunities are so much greater for you to participate in all the activities than you are when the schools have gotten so big. It’s kind of hard to– to be able to be in the things you like to do because there’s so much competition in the larger schools. So I like the little community schools myself.
STELLA: So you got to know your fellow classmates well and–
PEGGY CONRAD: Probably all the way up to high school. High school was on the third floor so we couldn’t go up there. But– but we did know the rest of the students from the first to the sixth grade.
And then, of course, when the little addition was built off here on the back, the elementary school was there. And I never remember going over there very much. I guess I probably was in high school by then maybe.
STELLA: And now you’ve named the teachers up through sixth grade. Do you know the names of the teachers from the seventh on?
PEGGY CONRAD: Oh, yes. But there was many because we changed classes, just like they do today. So you had a different teacher for every– every [INAUDIBLE].
One of my favorites was Mr. Hyatt. He taught English, which, I think, is really, really hard. But he made it fun. He even made Shakespeare fun. It just was a good memory.
And then I always have my recollections of Ms. Silverberg. She was our commercial teacher. So she taught accounting and typing and shorthand and that sort of thing. And one day I was in class, and in the typing case we had, like, a glassed-in room and it was always really, really warm. And I was smelling this awful smell one day. And I thought, what in the world is that?
Well, I finally found that it was myself. I had– my dog had gotten in a skunk and I had gotten skunk in my clothing. And I had to raise my hand and go up to Ms. Silverberg and say, can I please go home? I smell like a skunk and I need to get out of here.
STELLA: How old were you when that– when that happened?
PEGGY CONRAD: Oh, I had to have been passed the ninth grade because I was taking shorthand and typing. So I don’t remember what year, but I was embarrassed, of course. And I could just smell it. Oh, it was awful. And I think it was because of the heat. The heat was really up in that room.
Um, let’s see. Who else do I– of course, I was athletic so I participated in basketball. And back in those days, it was speed ball. I know none of the kids know what that is today. But it was kind of a boys kind of soccer. And–
STELLA: Now was it boys and girls?
PEGGY CONRAD: No. Speed ball was only girls and the boys played soccer.
STELLA: Oh, OK.
PEGGY CONRAD: And Mrs. Harmon was our coach. She coached all our teams. And she didn’t just coach one thing. She coached all the athletic things, like we had– we only had a team for speed ball and soccer and basketball because we weren’t a big enough school to have football.
And, of course, we only played in the county teams. We never went out of the county other than if you made the playoffs, which our teams did sometimes, thank heavens. But we never had a football team, of course. Only Westminster in the whole county had a football team in those days. The schools weren’t big enough to support that. So we always thought Westminster got everything.
STELLA: Well, besides the sports, can you remember, especially in elementary school, what kinds of games you played, especially during recess?
PEGGY CONRAD: Mhm. And I think we went outside a lot more than children do today. They’re inside on their little electronic things and all that. We didn’t have that. But we– I remember we played dodge ball a lot. And we went out every opportunity we could get.
And we had a nice little playground with slides and swings and that. Then in high school, we played all the sports outside. We did volleyball outside and softball and all that we did outside.
STELLA: Did you do gym outside when the weather permitted?
PEGGY CONRAD: Yes. Oh, I remember we had sea green gym suits. Hated them. Everybody had to put a gym suit on to go outside.
STELLA: So what exactly did they look like? How long or how short were they?
PEGGY CONRAD: They were, like– they were shorts and just buttoned down the– snapped down the front. Short sleeves. But they were ugly.
STELLA: Sea green.
PEGGY CONRAD: Hated them. All of us did. Hated them. But you wore them. And, of course, then you had to go and you had to take a shower and they made you take showers.
And some of the girls, of course, would always– they were shy and didn’t want to get in the shower. Not me. I just in you went. Get it over with.
STELLA: Well, I’m curious about lunch time. How were lunches arranged? Did you bring lunch? Was there a cafeteria? Did–
PEGGY CONRAD: Yup.
STELLA: Was the school–
PEGGY CONRAD: They had a cafeteria. The cafeteria was down on the ground– the ground floor, all the way at the end of the building going toward Union Bridge. And we used to– you could bring your lunch. They had ice cream that you could buy, just like we do today.
STELLA: So they probably actually cooked the food in the kitchen–
PEGGY CONRAD: Yes. Oh, yes.
STELLA: –unlike today.
PEGGY CONRAD: Yes. Everything was cooked right there in the kitchen. Food was good. It really was.
STELLA: It was. Yeah. That’s one of my memories in school when I was younger is going down to the kitchen in the morning before school started and getting treats. I don’t know if you have memories like that or–
PEGGY CONRAD: I don’t remember that. No.
STELLA: But today, I think the food is brought in by companies.
PEGGY CONRAD: Oh, I think so. I think so.
STELLA: So that’s a big difference there. Can you remember school ever closing weather wise?
PEGGY CONRAD: Nothing like today. I can remember my father getting up and putting chains on the bus. And he was– first flake of snow, he was out.
I mean, back in those days you didn’t just flip this little button and the chains came up on your tires. He would go down there and struggle to get those chains on the bus. And they really didn’t call school off nearly like they do today because the bus drivers knew they had to put the chains and away they went.
I lived down in– I lived over in, like, by Hydes Quarry and we had a big hill to get out with the bus. But my dad always made it. He put his chains on and away he went.
STELLA: You say back in those days, what were the years specifically that you attended the school here?
PEGGY CONRAD: I would have been here from, like, ’47 to ’59. And that was the last class to have graduated here before–
STELLA: So you don’t recall the school ever closing because of the weather?
PEGGY CONRAD: Oh, I think it might have closed. I don’t–
STELLA: You just don’t remember.
PEGGY CONRAD: I don’t particularly remember. But I know it didn’t close very often.
STELLA: Well, given the time of year, I was curious growing up in New Windsor, did you and your friends celebrate Halloween? Did you trick or treat?
PEGGY CONRAD: Yes. But, of course, I didn’t live in town so I just went in my neighborhood. We didn’t take our kids in the car and do that kind of thing. You went in your own little neighborhood. So I don’t know what it was like in town because I never participated in that.
STELLA: Well, can you remember in school, especially in the lower grades whether the teachers were involved in activities related?
PEGGY CONRAD: In grade school, we had Halloween parades. And then we would parade around through town. We’d all come in our costumes and parade around through town. And that was a big deal, of course, in those days.
Everybody participated. It was fun. Fun.
I have a little story to tell about Dan Hartzler. Everybody knows Dan Hartzler here in down.
STELLA: Oh, great. We’d love to hear it.
PEGGY CONRAD: I don’t remember– he’s the one who told me this just recently. He said, do you remember the time I ran over you with my bicycle? And I said, no.
He said, well, I did. I ran over you and I knocked you down. And boy, did I get in trouble.
And I said, well, that’s strange. That must have been something I wanted to forget because I did not remember. He said, yeah, I knocked you to the ground.
STELLA: Well, did he apologize? Did he say whether he apologized?
PEGGY CONRAD: Oh, yes. I’m sure– I’m sure his mom made him.
STELLA: Oh, that’s sweet.
PEGGY CONRAD: But I don’t– it’s funny that I don’t remember that.
STELLA: Another story you’d like to share with us?
PEGGY CONRAD: Um. OK. Well, maybe– I can remember another thing. I know they don’t let children leave school today, like we did.
When we had lunch time, if we had a little note from home we could go across the street to the local little hangout, which used to be Brownies Corner it was called down on the corner there, right at Main and not Church Street, but– well, it was right across from the Saint Paul’s Church. And then as years went by, that kind of was bought by somebody else and Kuntz’s opened up a little soda fountain up on the corner of Main Street and Route 75. It was right there at the– boy, did we all love that place.
When we went to the games at nighttime when– I was a cheerleader. When we went to the games at nighttime, we would go over there after school and have our little bit of lunch or supper, and then we could go on the bus with the guys on the basketball team and go to the games. And I know nowadays I have a granddaughter who’s a cheerleader. They can’t go on the bus with the boys.
Well, that was a big deal for us. We thought that was wonderful, especially if you had a boyfriend that was playing ball. That was really great.
STELLA: So you mentioned leaving the school at lunch time and walking. Was that in the lower grades as well?
PEGGY CONRAD: I doubt that it was in the grade school, but as high school students we could as long as you had a little note that you were able to leave school, you could go across the street and have lunch at the little soda fountain.
STELLA: Well, that sure is different from today. Yeah.
PEGGY CONRAD: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
STELLA: Is there a negative change that you might have seen in New Windsor, like, over the years? Or having lived here? Has it all been good?
PEGGY CONRAD: No. I think– I think the town– I think the town has grown. And I think– I have a– my daughter lives in town and just moved here from Westminster a couple of years ago and she loves it. She likes the little town atmosphere. And–
STELLA: So she lives right in town?
PEGGY CONRAD: Mhm. She lives back on Post Office Drive, back by the post office. So she’s back away from the heavy traffic that comes through town. But I think it’s been a big– big improvement since they put the new highway in here since the fire station has gone up. That new– all the cement trucks that used to come out there had a hard time making the turn up where the little park is there at 75.
My husband drove a truck from Lehigh. And that used to be a hard turn for them. Now they can come right on through here and it’s– I’m sure it’s a lot easier.
STELLA: So does it alleviate some of the traffic?
PEGGY CONRAD: I’m sure it does. It would have to. Mhm.
STELLA: Was there something else you’d like to tell us that you may have missed from your list?
PEGGY CONRAD: Let me just look at my notes and see if I missed anything that I wanted to tell. I do remember, I was one of the few, I guess. We didn’t have too many that drove to school in those days in high school. But I was one of the few who was fortunate enough to have a car.
Boy, was I proud. I had a ’56 Ford convertible. Black and white.
PEGGY CONRAD: I just thought I was hot stuff. But the– all the girls, they loved–
STELLA: I’m sure you were.
PEGGY CONRAD: –cruising with me. And we would go to all the basketball games in the car. And we would go– I remember one time we went to Chestertown for a basketball game. We were in the playoffs.
STELLA: And how far away is that from here?
PEGGY CONRAD: That would be down on the shore. It was a good ways. And got lost coming home.
And one of my friends just wrote me a little note and she said, do you remember the time we got lost coming home from Chestertown? I said, oh, yeah, boy, do I. We didn’t have, like, GPS to help me either. I think we stopped and asked I don’t know how many times until I finally made it home.
And I also remember when my dad drove the school bus, he just was one of the finest people and very, very caring. But he– back in those days, if somebody misbehaved, you put them off the bus. I mean, they got put off wherever they misbehaved and they found their way home. Of course, today, you couldn’t do that.
But always at Christmas, he always gave appreciation to his students. He always had candy bars for them. It’s Christmas. And handed out every single person a candy bar and they had a choice of a Hershey bar or a Hershey with almonds.
And I can remember too that he used to– he would say to my mother how the– how these children were so well behaved. And, I guess, that’s how they were brought up in those days. He had very little trouble on the school bus.
STELLA: That’s good to hear.
PEGGY CONRAD: Yeah. We were good kids in those days.
STELLA: Is there–
PEGGY CONRAD: Oh, another thing that they don’t have today that I think was a good thing, the seniors when they graduated, we had a special class night where all the kids participated. We did little skits and we did somebody could sing, they sang. And that was a big deal.
Then we had baccalaureate service over at the church of Saint Paul’s, which was the religious service. We had a sermon and the whole bit. I mean, they don’t do any of that today.
STELLA: So that was part of the graduation ceremony?
PEGGY CONRAD: That was part of our graduation exercises. Of course–
STELLA: That’s convenient because it was right there.
PEGGY CONRAD: And we also had our prom at the school. I mean, we didn’t go away somewhere. And the junior class always decorated for the senior prom. And boy, was that fun.
You’d put up– we’d put up false ceiling so you didn’t see all the awful stuff up in the top of the gym. And, I mean, it was an all-day affair to just decorate. Great, great fun. Just–
STELLA: And the school colors? That just occurred to me.
PEGGY CONRAD: Were purple and gold. My letter. This was my school letter that I learned. And then we got stars to put on as the years went by.
STELLA: And you earned that–
PEGGY CONRAD: From– you got a star for athletic participation. We had the Girls Athletic Association. We had student council. So you could earn– I mean, the academic people had to have a way to earn a letter the same as the athletic people. So there was all kinds of things you could do.
We didn’t have too many clubs and things like that, but we did have the Girls Athletic Association and the boys also. Like I say, the student council. And I can’t pretty much think of anything else that we did. But enough to be involved in, but nothing like today.
I mean, all the things that the children can do today. We didn’t have those kind of things, of course.
STELLA: Well, did you have chores to do at home? Perhaps–
PEGGY CONRAD: Yeah. I did. I always had to help with– with getting dinner on the table. Never had to do laundry. But my mother was a stay-at-home mom so she never worked out of the house.
But I always had to clean up after dinner. And, of course, she washed the dishes and I dried. So I had little chores.
We had– we had raised sheep for awhile and I used to– we used to bring the baby sheep in when they didn’t– when the mothers wouldn’t take them and put them in a box and feed them with a bottle and all that good stuff. But that probably was when I was very young. But that was fun though.
STELLA: I bet it was.
PEGGY CONRAD: And another thing too, we had very, very small classes when we graduated. I had just 33 in my class.
STELLA: Oh, wow. That is small.
PEGGY CONRAD: And then I looked back in a couple of my yearbooks–
STELLA: Now you don’t mean your graduating class. You just– well, it would have been then because it was all of the 12th grade.
PEGGY CONRAD: Mhm. It was just 33 of us.
STELLA: That’s incredible.
PEGGY CONRAD: And we still have– we have five that have– are deceased. We still have 28 that are– so we’re getting ready. We’re going to have a big 50th reunion next year we hope when the alumni banquet is in April.
And then I noticed– I looked in my yearbooks, and each class was a little smaller before us. ’58 had 31 and ’57 had 27. So it just kept going down.
And another thing I remember too about the school is, of course, you had teachers that smoked, but they couldn’t smoke in class so they had to go to the furnace room to smoke. Dingy, dirty place. And I’m thinking, boy, they must want to really smoke. They had to go down in here.
And we did go to see Ms. Silverberg. She lived to be 101.
PEGGY CONRAD: We went– a bunch of us girls that had taken the commercial course went out to see her. She was at the Westminster Nursing Home. We went to see her for hundredth birthday and took her a little cake.
And she was as sharp as a tack. And if you would have shut your eyes, you would have thought she was still teaching school. She was just as sharp as could be.
And she lived– I know some of the girls went again for her 101st birthday. And then she’s passed away since then. But she was a really spry lady. Good memories.
She was a good teacher. And she laughed when we were out there. She said, you know, I would have never, ever told you girls this, but I couldn’t type a lick when I was teaching typing. Couldn’t do a lick of typing.
STELLA: Oh, what a shock.
PEGGY CONRAD: And we said, well, we’ve never known. She didn’t have to sit down and type for us so we never knew. She said, well, I’m telling you a secret.
STELLA: Well, wasn’t that sweet of her to share that? Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us, Peggy.
PEGGY CONRAD: You’re very welcome. I’m glad to–glad to be here and be able to do that.
STELLA: Thank you.
PEGGY CONRAD: Thank you for having me.
STELLA: You’re welcome.