Olive Branch School Preservation Society

Olive Branch School Memories Journal

Below are recollections of Olive Branch that have been shared by past students, teachers, etc. We invite you to submit your own special memories and stories about our Olive Branch School. If you have a story to share, go to the “Add Your Story” page, type it in your own words, and click Submit. We reserve the right to edit for space, content, etc. Also, if you have photos that you would be willing to share, please send them via email to: [email protected]

The Memories Journal is updated every 48 hours.

My mother, Harriet Walter, taught elementary vocal music at Olive Branch (and the other elementaries in the New Carlisle-Bethel School District) approximately 1954-1960. She not only coordinated and implemented the elementary vocal music curricula (under Superintendent Lawrence Pflaumer), but she accompanied all classes on piano, sang with them, and made certain that each and every kid knew that F-A-C-E were the spaces and Every Good Boy Does Fine were the lines of the staff. Moreover, of her own volition she wrote, accompanied, and directed “operettas” generally held in the Spring in the auditorium of Donnelsville, New Carlisle and, I believe, Medway; or perhaps they rotated venues. Every kid had a part, even if he or she was simply a rock or a tree. People got there early to vie for seats. The auditorium was always packed to capacity and therefore quite hot. I was so proud to sit in the front row and watch because at the end of each performance a kid, generally the lead actor/actress, would come forth with a gift for mom, usually flowers, but one time a clock, the kind with a glass dome and brass weights that rotate back and forth. We proudly displayed it in our living room for years. In 1961 when we sold our house in Springfield and bought in to the funeral home in Urbana, Mom was so sad to leave her post at New Carlisle-Bethel School District. Yet she was devoted to my Dad who had been waiting for years to return to the funeral business. I always thought that OB was such a cool little building and wished that my Springfield elementaries – Elmwood and Jefferson – had been constructed with such imagination. Mom was also proud to have served with John Sipe and Hap Ashenfelter. Ironically, Hap played lead tenor in my Forties-style big band, the “OK Syncopators”, which had an eight-year run from 2000 – 2008. We were also honored that Hap served as a pall bearer for Mom’s funeral service in 2006.

Submitted by Dan Walter

I have great memories of little OB as I lived across the street and  went to school there from 1960 -1963. I had Mrs. Moore for first grade, Mrs. Cobaugh for second grade and Mrs. Howell for third grade. Mrs Flora was the fourth grade teacher. I was sent to Medway for fourth grade as they were building Oscar T. Hawke school. I have lots of memories of little OB, from buying penny candy at lunch to riding my bike around and around outside of the building. It was part of our playground. I also used to do tricks on the metal bar connecting the stone fence around the front. I can remember in the first grade meeting a lot of new friends – friends that I still share my life with.

Submitted by Charlotte Thomas Jobe

I attended first and second grades at Little OB from 1959-1961. I recall the smell of the wood floors that were re-oiled every year during our Christmas break. One time a friend and I got in trouble for getting oil on a classmate’s sweater, and we were sent to the restroom with her sweater to remove the stain. We scoured for half an hour, but never did get the oil out! Another memory is of Mrs. Cobaugh telling us that the posts out front were hitching posts where the children tied their horses while they were in class. We couldn’t believe that kids used to ride horses to school!

Submitted by Randy Young

Olive Branch first grade teacher (1958-1961) Thelma Studebaker remembers that one day while at morning recess one of her children slipped back into the building and ate another child’s lunch. It was not discovered until lunch time when the child whose lunch had been taken came crying to her that her lunch had been eaten. Thelma shared her lunch with the student and after lunch when class began, she entertained a general discussion among the students asking such questions as how would any of us feel if our lunch came up missing and we would have nothing to eat, or what should we do if we knew who might have helped themselves to another’s lunch. A short time later the little boy who had eaten the lunch came to her and admitted that he took it. He informed Mrs. Studebaker that he had not eaten breakfast nor had he brought a lunch, and since he was hungry he decided to help himself. Thelma used this opportunity to talk to the child privately, and then later to the entire class about taking things that were not their own and that in the future they should come to her and she would make every effort to find them something to eat.

On another occasion she asked her children the question as to what the shape of their school building reminded them of. One said, “A round barn with four doors,” and another said, “Beehive.”

Still another interesting remembrance Thelma recalled was the day she made a visit to the restroom and while there observed big beady eyes staring out at her from a radiator, which prompted her to leave in quite a big hurry to call upon the custodian to investigate. What did he discover? According to Thelma he found a baby owl.

As told to former OBSPS Chairman, Bill Berry

In an interview with the late Charlene Flora, Principal of the Olive Branch building in the 1950’s, the following remembrances of her experiences came to mind. Charlene was the only woman principal in the district for many years. She related the story about an incident that she thought was quite humorous. At that time most of the men principals smoked, which was a bit annoying to her at meetings. One day she decided to have a little fun. When all the men lit up their cigarettes she pulled a pipe from her purse and began to fill it with tobacco and prepared to light up and smoke it. All the men got quite a laugh from this but she indicated that Mr. Pflaumer, Superintendent, apparently didn’t think it was all that funny.

Charlene also recalled the story about Mrs. Studebaker’s encounter with the owl, only Charlene seems to remember that rather than just one owl there were five baby owls. The owls were found in a radiator in the girl’s restroom located between the first and second grade classrooms. Custodian Mike Davenport was able to get the owls out and proceeded to take them around to each classroom to show to the children before releasing them to the outside. No one to this day could figure out how they got into the radiator let alone into the building.

Mrs. Flora also remembered a family traveling from the west coast area (State of Washington) by covered wagon and horse on their way to New York to attend the World’s Fair. They stopped at the school grounds to have lunch, feed the horses, and to rest for awhile. She, along with the teachers, realized they had one of those rare moments in time to use this experience as a teaching opportunity. The children were allowed to go outside to see the horses and the wagon, but also to hear how people got around before the automobile or other modes of transportation. Charlene reminded them that their great-grandparents no doubt traveled by this means from place to place many years before and how even their grandparents and their children might have been transported to school that way.

As told to former OBSPS Chairman, Bill Berry

One of the things that I remember was when we would take recess sometimes a train would go by on the track that is still there but now unused that goes around the back of the old Olive Branch School. We would hear its whistle and see the steam billowing up out of its stack. This was the later steam days for the Nation’s railroads, but the railroad that ran around the back of the school was still using steam engines in the early 1960s and had not converted to the diesel engines yet. I would run down near the track and make that motion of pulling a whistle rope. The train crew would blow the whistle that would spew steam out the top, and smile and wave as the engine and cars chugged by billowing smoke, steam and fumes. This was quite a thrill for a little second grader and I’m sure something that most elementary kids at other schools never got to experience. I was later told by Mrs. Cobaugh not to go so near to the tracks and give that pulling motion to the train crews because it worried her that I may get too close to the track and get hurt. We would still get to see the train go by every now and again, but would have to watch from further away and not bother the train crews. But it was sure fun while it lasted.

Submitted by William (Billy) McGinnis
Lives in Iowa
Attended Olive Branch 1960-64

I believe I remember having a study hall in one of the rooms there (in OB), in either 7th or 8th grade, at a time when enrollment was peaking and space was at a premium, and also playing dodgeball in the rotunda gym at least once… an interesting game for 40 kids in a room of that size and shape! It’s too bad the community couldn’t have appreciated the little gem that it had at that time, now almost 50 years ago, and done more to preserve it over the years. Can’t help but think that Wilbur Bolen would be thrilled at what you’re doing!

Submitted by William (Bill) Achbach
Attended Olive Branch 1963-65

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