IRH - Hamlet High

This section is to honor the works of Russ Lancaster who started the “I Remember Hamlet” web site years ago. Without his pioneering the web at that time we might not have gathered all these memories of our Hamlet, NC. We thank you Russ for what you started in 1996, may you Rest in Peace. Russ was kind enough to let me download his web site before he took it down. Thank you Russ.

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David
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IRH - Hamlet High

Postby David » Mon May 15, 2017, 8:58 pm

Hamlet High School

1947 - 1959
by: Russ Lancaster
Hamlet High School. Now anyone who lived in any small town in America in the later forties through the fifties can relate to Hamlet High School. When I first enrolled there in 1947 it was called Hamlet Avenue School and grades 1 - 12 were all housed in the fine 3 story boxed canyon shaped school. It also had a basement which housed mostly the library and cafeteria.
The school was located on Hamlet Avenue and took up an entire block of both Hamlet Avenue on the South, Spring Street on the North and King Street on the West. The gymnasium was located on the West side of the school.
The front of the school faced Hamlet Avenue (thus the name) and the Spring Street side housed two gigantic playgrounds. The Hamlet Avenue side had a circular driveway for teachers and the principal. The Spring Street side (the boxed canyon shaped side) had within the boxed area, bicycle racks and bricked drinking water fountains. There were also fire escapes for all floors in this area.
Some of the more renown teachers of those 12 years were Ms. Mckinnon and Ms. Gibbons (elementary teachers), Gene Winfrey (8th grade health teacher and assistant coach), Mr. Pruitt (high school physical ed teacher and head coach of all sports), Jeter Haynes (9th grade general science teacher), Ms. Wagner (U.S. history teacher), Grace Phifer (high school English teacher) and Lina Flynt Bauersfeld (also a high school English teacher). Each of those teachers holds another story yet to be told on these pages.
And let's not forget Mr. Haltiwanger. He was principal of the school the entire span of my years there between 1947 - 1959. He was always called "Prong" behind his back by the students though few, if any, of us knew why. He answered that question in person at a class re-union of mine in 1994. His answer was to show us the back of his hand with the first and third fingers held up, the middle finger turned down and said "Read between the lines". A great and unexpected answer to an age long question. The class of '59 now knows why he was called "Prong".
There was also a tall, slim black man named George. He was the custodian and respected by all students. He was the one responsible for stoking the coal furnace hidden in the bowels of the school to generate heat to all the classrooms via steam radiators.
There was no air-conditioning in those years and until around 1952 or so, a single high wattage light bulb in the center of each classroom was our only lighting. In those days, if it became excessively cloudy, we would hear Mr. Haltiwanger on the speakers announcing we would be observing a "rainy day schedule" which meant leaving school at 1pm instead of the usual 3pm or later quitting time. That would, of course, bring cheers from all of us.
Recess for the elementary grades was always lots of fun with the best games being "dodge ball", "kick ball" and "Red Rover". It was "cool" to come to school in late spring, barefoot.
Ninth grade was a rite of passage in itself. Freshmen we were and proud of it. Also, lots of new faces showed up in that year. As small as Hamlet was, it seems half our student body had been attending elementary school at Fairview Heights school. One that most of us new existed but had not really thought that much about. For us boys, it was brand new girls. And, being new to us, they were all gorgeous. We did lots of flirting but soon found out that for the most part, 14 year old girls were interested in real men aged 15 or more. But, we dreamed our dreams about those special girls like Patsy Lackey, Helen McManus and Nancy Lee Gaddy.
That year was a year of shyness for me. I was in Grace Phifer's English class as was her daughter, Martha Jo. Mrs. Phifer was teaching us telephone manners and called on me to pretend I was on the phone with Martha Jo and to ask her for a date. Martha Jo reddened my face by responding "I don't want to talk with that little boy". Oh, for a place to hide.
Lina Flynt Bauersfeld was the matriarch of Hamlet High School teachers. She was probably long past retirement age when I first entered her 12th grade English class. She was known for her strictness and for her love of MacBeth. Her exams were the toughest and she was the slyest teacher I ever met. You could pull no wool over her eyes. She was a classy teacher and lady.
Mr. Haltiwanger, the principal, was one person you hoped you never saw one on one in his office. If you were ever taken there, you were automatically guilty and treated as such. He would not hesitate to use his "board of education" to discipline the unruly. He was extremely hard to read. A smile from him meant trouble for you. He was a fair man and more feared than respected by us students. The respect came later in life as our future employers would always get glowing reports on us by Mr. Haltiwanger. He even became a regular golf partner of mine after he retired. He was the first man I ever played golf with that could shoot his age on a golf course.
In 1954 the Supreme Court banned segregation but It never reached Hamlet High School until after I graduated in 1959. Times were good but we will never know for sure if they could have been even better. I do know that our gymnasium was always filled to capacity by students and parents for basketball games, something you rarely see anymore. Was it because of segregation or was it just the times? I don't know the answer but I do know that I dearly loved that old school. I had my share of bad times but the good times outnumbered the bad many times over.
It was a place where you were taught a good education and a Hamlet High School diploma was something to be proud of...and still is. It was a place where you met your first best friend, your first sweetheart, drove your first car, went to your first prom, got into your first real trouble, smoked your first cigarette, uttered your first curse word, got into your first fight, played on your first real athletic team, had your first date and it was also a place where the morning started with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance. It was a place of respect.
Yes, I remember Hamlet High School ...... and ..... I Remember Hamlet!

Eagle One
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Re: IRH - Hamlet High

Postby Eagle One » Thu May 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

I had no idea that Russ had passed away. We e-mailed and talked by phone periodically but I hadn't heard from him in quite a while. Can someone tell me when he died? Last time we talked he had just bought a new motorcycle and was mighty proud of that bike. I knew that he and Helga were living in Lady Lake, FL. I'm glad you were able to download his site and hope you'll post as much of it as possible.

Rest In Peace my friend. You will be missed.
Last edited by Eagle One on Tue May 23, 2017, 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

David
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Re: IRH - Hamlet High

Postby David » Thu May 18, 2017, 7:41 pm

Russ passed away this past February. I will continue to post his articles.

freddie hassler
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Re: IRH - Hamlet High

Postby freddie hassler » Thu May 25, 2017, 1:36 am

I didn't know either Eagle one. So Sad to hear the News about Russ


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