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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow Days!

    I've been taking an informal survey among people who grew up in Wheeling and went to school here to see whether I could find anyone who remembered even one day when school was cancelled due to snow. So far no luck.
   On the most frigid days, when the air hurt your lungs when inhaled, we stood at the bus stop with woolen "leggins" under our skirts on our way to high school. Of course, they were stashed in our lockers as soon as we got there.
  I do remember one day when we were sent home early from school because a big snowstorm was predicted and it was pretty certain that those kids who lived way out in the countryside would not be able to get home if we did not leave early.
   Even THE BIG SNOW of 1950 occurred conveniently over Thanksgiving weekend and we missed no school.
   In my survey-taking, I met a man from Erie, PA. He said the rules there were that it had to be -75 deg and four feet of snow before school was canceled, I believe him.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Christmas Secret

     Many,many years ago, about Christmas time in the Quinn household, my father discovered a strange object in the back of the closet where he hung his coat and hat. It  was sort of question-mark shaped, had a big bow on it, and was about five feet tall. He was puzzled..

    When he asked what it was, my sister Amy and I told him it was a secret and it was his Christmas present. It wasn't really, but he was always asking us what we were getting him as a gift so we thought we would have a great laugh. The object in question was actually a "shepherd's hook" that we had made for Amy's Little Bo Peep Halloween costume. It was made from an old broom stick, a coat hanger, newspaper, wrapping paper, and ribbon.

  So, as the holiday progressed he was constantly asking for hints as to what it was. On the day he opened the "present" and when he got down to the stick and hanger, he could not figure out what it we told him it was a "chicken catcher'...the curved hook of the hanger slid up and down the stick for distance.

  We got such a laugh out of it that it became a tradition to give my Dad some weird funny gift for Christmas each year. The next year one of us found an object that to this day I don't know what it was, but made a great gift. It was made of cast iron, shaped like a half of a hollowed out pear, and had a screw assembly through it. His demand for hints made us really puzzle for answers. We thought perhaps it was some kind of nut cracker. But no one ever was able to figure it out....neither did my father who we thought knew everything.

  One gift was really imaginative. We got him three bottles of Old Spice...each had two tiny handles on them as part of the design, so of course, the hint was...'It has six handles".  We all laughed while he tried to find the answer to that one.

   Christmas at the Quinnery was always fun!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Woodsdale Kids have Kids who have us your best shot.

                                Woodsdale Kids have Kids and Grandkids

Yes, this is a  real pic of  Heritage Port in Wheeling with both bridges shown and the gazebo,and always the river. Not sure who took this pic, but it is sooooooooooooo romantic all in the pastels of sunset

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the families of old neighbors on here? Christmas photos with the old gang and the new additions?. A brief summary of where you live  now and whether you enjoy it.

You can send those pic to Howdy or me be sure to say who is who for each pic. I'll be happy to post them. Howdy's address is the one at the top of the blog, mine is

It is getting harder and harder for me to continue to write articles for the block, especially when I get no feedback or comments. I did learn that yes indeed Woodsdale had a 9th grade at one time.....there are so many interesting stories I could tell you about Gulliver my goat, wild parties in New Zealand, how I got to be an honorary Maori, but none of those have any thing to do with Woodsdale. We have wracked our brains trying to get people to share memories of Woodsdale and yet I have still ended up being the main writer...that was not my intent when I started. Perhaps Ill have better lucy getting all of you to tell me where you were when you heard JFK was dead?

In any case,you only get out of something what you are willing to put into it.So have a go, at least post a few pics.

Thanks and hope the season leaves you with warm memories,


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Woodsdale Kids Go on Strike


   According to Carl Basham , in 1965 his 9th grade year at Woodsdale Junior High the students went on strike. Carl stated that the walk-out was over a dress code regulation. He alsosaid that the students went out to the playground and Mr. Dan Hyle, the principal at the time, came out, pointed at one girl, told her to go inside and the rest followed.
   I cannot find anyone else who remembers the incident and I do not ever remember Woodsdale having 9th grade classes, but that does not make it any the less true. If you remember this incident please comment below.
  Carl also said that the music books he was provided at Woodsdale were two years behind those he had used in Ohio.
  He remembers Gib Lamb and Max Lebow as his close friends and stated that he was told Woodsdalewas settled by the Jewish Community...according to Carl the evidence for this was the fact that the neighborhood had both a temple and synagogue. Sorry, Carl, untrue...Woodsdale was part of Archibald Wood's estate.
  Does anyone remember Woodsdale having 9th grade classes? Please let me know.

Friday, September 13, 2013

How things have changed!

   This is a photo of the Riverboat
Festival now at Heritage Port, you know, where that ugly monstosity called the Wharf Parking Garage used to sit. Wheeling now has a festival every weekend in summer! And in the background both our 1849 Suspension Bridge and the Ft. Henry Bridge.
     Who would have thought our close-knit, sacred homeland of Woodsdale would need a Neighborhood Watch or Woodsdale United to fight greedy land grabbers from destroying Stratford Hill?
    Who would have thought the house I grew up in on Poplar would be used as a movie set in the new film (available on DVD) called "The Pledge". Seeing the attic where I used to sleep gave me chills, but the view from the street at night was so beautiful, I almost cried.
    Who would have thoughts the citizens of Wheeling would pool together and win a national contest for a dog park? That $25,000 will be used toward the effort and thousands will benefit.
  Who would have thought that it was FIFTY years ago I graduated from high school and that next year I hope to see some pretty special people at the reunion? I never would have predicted back then that I would spend the next 32 years away from Wheeling. Now, here I am having been back for twenty years and considered an expert on local, THAT'S amazing.
   Oh, if only we had had a crystal ball back then to look into the future, I doubt that anyone would have believed the changes!

Monday, August 5, 2013


   Due to a lack of RSVP's and my many request for organizational help, the annual picnic is canceled. I contacted several people to help organize and got no response. We have had only 10 responses to the email invites.
  I was recently in a very serious car accident and am unable to do all the running around that it takes to get this event off the ground.
  If you have suggestions on how to make the picnic better, please let me know...the food is always fantastic, and renewing old friendships is delightful, but it takes some effort. I will book the shelter  for next year only if I hear from members that they will help, and intend to come/ Perhaps we should only have the picnic every three or four years. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Catherine "Cathie" Calvert Post

I came upon your blog, and would like to contribute--Woodsdale was one of the most important parts of a very peripatetic childhood. We had come to live with our grandparents--my father was a career army officer, and had been sent to the Korean war, and my mother decided to bring my sister and me "home" to her parents at Linsly. We've got long roots there--I have a daguerreotype of my great-great grandfather from the 1840's, marked "Wheeling, Virginia." 

My grandparents were teachers, house-parents, and a mass of other things at the school over their 30-plus years. They lived in Merriman Hall when it was unreconstructed, still a gracious Victorian house with sweeping porches and lofty ceilings and a mysterious turret which, I was sure, a little girl long ago had used as her hideaway--I wanted to climb to find out, but never had the gumption. The house made wonderful background to endless hours playing Hospital, or School, or banister sliding, or, for me, reading my way through bookshelves of Victorian children's books left behind by the Storers.

Calvert Family in front of Merriman Hall (Cathie is standing next to her Father)

We, however, lived in a one bedroom apartment over a Linsly outbuilding, still close enough to walk in the evening with my grandparents as they cared for their rose beds, and for my grandmother to appear on Sunday mornings, before we all went downtown to church, with a large platter of just-made pancakes. It was bliss--lots of room to play imaginary Indians, with our campus friends--Edsie Rhine, Susie Lockhart-- making pemmican out of mashed berries, and teepees out of low hanging trees, and, if we weren't caught (as we were strictly forbidden to) detaching a tiny bit of birch bark and writing a message on it. There were only two frightening aspects of paradise--the swinging bridge was the first. My grandfather had built it to bridge the creek that led from one side to the academic building on the other. It was frightening enough when someone would deliberately go to the middle, and give it a good sway, but when we crossed the  bridge when he had removed planks for repair, which meant a long drop if you tripped....well, that was hair raising. But nothing frightened us like the "crick" and the quicksand.

The floods were interesting, if dramatic. But quicksand--the only strong words and threat of a paddling my sweet grandfather ever uttered, were about the quicksand down the hill, and how my mother as a child had been swallowed up to her knees, until her brother rescued her--leaving her Sunday shoes in sand.
The second ominous development was Woodsdale School. I would go with my downstairs neighbor Marcia, who would walk me there as she was in fifth grade when I was in first. It was a long walk down Leatherwood lane, then to the corner where the Jolly Fat Policeman would escort us across. I remember the school as enormous, and having Googled old pictures--indeed it was, a fortress of stone that seemed to frown.
I was a shy and timid child, and this was already my third school, with 4 more to come, and I was one of those nose-in-a-book girls who were often silent. We had a Mean Teacher. She hit. She not only hit, she used a ping pong paddle on small children's bums, and screamed at everyone. I huddled in my metal-and-wood desk and stared in horror. Her patience may have been tried because the baby boom was in full swing, and the year began with sixty-four children in the classroom, though that thinned. I shook in my shoes when she hit my best friend Francis in front of the class, for writing in her reader. But what caught my heart, and reverberates to this day, were the orphans. They came from up the hill, and everyone knew who was an orphan.
Tommy was small, and very round, and not a little disruptive, and one day the teacher jerked him out of his chair, and onto a square of butcher paper on the floor, then taped his mouth shut with scotch tape, and left him, with his tears flooding past the big 'X" of tape she had plastered there. I can't help but wonder how he grew up, and be grateful schools have evolved since then.
I left after the first semester of second grade, off to Philadelphia, Kansas, Virginia, Germany, and grew up to be a writer and editor in New York, and now live in London, as I married a British man. Wheeling was our fixed point in a changing childhood, and Woodsdale its center, and I don't know where I'd be without memories of summer evenings running like hares across the broad green fields with our posse of faculty children, or piling into the car for a trip to Isley's (rainbow sherbet!) or standing on one of the cannons and spinning the wheels, or going downtown for decorous ladies' lunches at Stone and Thomas, where my grandmother and mother stocked up on Bridge Mix (well, they did play bridge!)
We continued to visit and spend summers until the early 60's. It was our one reliable place. In fact, the big old Victorian house we have bought now on Shelter Island has much of the feel of that Victorian house I knew so well (except for the basement, where my grandmother kept her canned goods--we knew that was certainly haunted--and we weren't too sure about the attic, either). I often, as a writer, used those memories that lay so engraved on my consciousness.