Monday, November 30, 2020

Please send in your Memphis School Memories!

Thanks for visiting our Blog! Please consider sending us your story and any photos of your time at our old school. We'd love to hear from you! Mail your story (long or short) to:

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Mystery of the Lost Homework!

A cache of graded homework was found inside the old Memphis School science desk. Evidently, these papers fell behind the desk drawers during the 1950's or early 60's and sat 'entombed' in Room 307 for some 50 years!

Until recently, I had forgotten all about this find. We discovered these graded papers during the time we moved the old desk from Room 307 to our home. This was just before the wrecking-ball came calling. Since then, they've been stored in a shoebox in my garage. 

You may have seen a picture of the desk on this blog. If you haven't, go to 2010 blog archive and click on October 13th. 
The outside of this stash looks ancient! Looks like it should be in a museum!
Sort of resembles the Dead Sea Scrolls!
But when you open the fold...the papers look like they were just graded yesterday.
If anyone knows any of the students listed below, let them know that we found their homework! It would be great if one of them could shed some light as to what year these were from and for more fun...which teacher lost them! 

The only other markings on these papers is the subject; English Grade 5 a and some say Grade 5 b. It appears to be a book-report assignment on 'Winnie the Pooh'. 

Most of the names are legible, some of which I could only make out their first names. The names on the papers are:

Nancy Bachman, Dallas Pisker, Jane Gelzinis, Joan Cianciola, J.A. Bognar, Barbara Ferrell, Donna Payne, Margaret-Mary Haas, Byron, Steve Tekisky, Carol Jean Haller, Lynne Farkas, Steve Ference, Elaine Zychowski, Janice Claus, Sandra Stafford, Mary Ann BibelDelane, Billy Deisner, William Olsson, Ralph, Gerald Bekon, Esther Risellino, David RochiskySlyvia Simon, Wayne Austin, Jack Myers, Kenny Patock, Carla Schraegle, James Parker and Louise Homuth.

If you have any information in solving this mystery, e-mail me at:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Send your Memphis School Story Today!

Hello Fellow Classmates!

We're hoping to post some new stories from our former classmates. During Covid-19, now's the time to write a story about your time at our great school.

Please send them to me at:

The above pic is our old elementary school back when it had only two floors, not three like we all remember. This super rare image was taken sometime before 1919...over 100 hundred years ago!!! It was taken just before the third floor was added.

Does anyone remember how cool our school looked at night when all of the classrooms were lit up? I remember going to open houses at night and walking there with my mom from W. 42nd Street. The school looked magnificent!

Please send your memories to me...long or short and some pics. Also, remember to hit the older posts button at the bottom of each page to see previous stories and pics.

Thank you!

Greg, Class of 72

Monday, September 9, 2019

Haunted School?

Hello fellow Classmates. Here’s a reposting of the first post that I placed on this blog about our great elementary school. This was back on October 21, 2009. It recounts a scary experience I encountered at our school before it was torn down. The scary story is for all of you haunted house fans. The above book cover is one of the books I bought at Memphis during the Scholastic book fairs we had.

Please consider sending me your story and some pics of your time at Memphis. It could be short story or a long one. My email address is:


As the school year recently started for my own children, I couldn’t help but to think back of my time at Memphis School. The handsome three-story brick building that once stood safely in my Old Brooklyn neighborhood. As many of you know the formidable school came tumbling down nearly three years ago. At the very spot where Memphis School once stood is what is now commonly referred to as “greenspace”. Still, fond memories linger of a school that once was.

Below photo was taken by fellow classmate and blog friend, Russ Kawentel.

My years at Memphis started in the Fall of 1966. Living nearby in the neighborhood, my mother walked me everyday to my kindergarten class. My very first teacher was Miss Goodnight and our classroom was located in the basement of the school. One of my earliest recollections of attending Memphis happened during kindergarten. I must have told my teacher that I was hungry and didn’t feel well. I remember Miss Goodnight handing me her sandwich then sat with me until I felt better. Another memory is a field trip to the Cleveland Zoo in Miss Roach’s second grade class. This was more of an adventure than a field trip as we actually walked to the zoo through the woods off W. 42nd Street and Pensacola Avenue. Then marching single-file down the steel staircase that's (still) attached to the wooded hillside. The class then walked down Brookside Road (now called Wildlife Way) and around the old concrete Brookside public swimming pool (now the zoo's amphitheater). My memory of this field trip made even sweeter by having my father who is now long gone coming along as a class helper. Who could forget going to the school auditorium for lunch with our steel lunchboxes, watching a puppet show, or a movie from an old movie projector. I also remember how cool Memphis looked at night when all of its classrooms were lit up for open house.

Other memories include science labs and the breathtaking experiments performed in class. I remember hearing girls whisper about the budding romance between two of our favorite teachers, Mr. Sopka and Miss Emch. Or boys talking about the notorious “Memphis Gang” and their nightly scrapes with the law. Playing dodge ball or going to an after school carnival in the gym was fun too. The safety patrol guards waving their flags on street corners. How about the wonderful old lady named Bertha, that could’ve passed for “Aunt Bea” who was our crossing guard at Memphis and W. 41st. Yes, even getting swats from Mrs. Bridges in sixth grade for not turning in my homework have also aged into great memories.

After Memphis I went on to Mooney then graduated from Rhodes in 1978. I can say that of all the memories I have from all my school years, Memphis tops them all. Memphis School was a magical place for me and attending there will always have special meaning.

Sometime around 1995, I was reacquainted with Memphis School. It was through the religious group who at the time purchased the school building. The new owner asked if I would be willing to photograph their restoration process that was underway at Memphis. As a wedding photographer, I jumped at the chance to photograph something different especially when it provided me with the opportunity of returning to my old school. When I arrived for the shoot, I had forgotten how big and beautiful Memphis School really was. The classrooms were as huge as warehouse docks. The corridors were long, tall and stately. Some of the corridor floors speckled with thick glass block. I had a blast walking through the school and checking-in on my old classrooms. Opening up dusty closets and crawling through what resembled secret passage ways. I noticed a lot of neat things about the school that I had never noticed or remembered as a student there some four decades earlier.

I had so much fun during the two-day shoot that when it was all over, I didn’t have the nerve to invoice. The person who brought me on knew I was once a student and offered some mementos in exchange for my services. I happily accepted what many people would’ve left for junk but to me seemed like treasured artifacts. In fact, some of the items were even slated to be thrown out. Among the items that were given to me were a couple wooden swings that once swayed on the school grounds, a movie projector, P.A. speakers from the auditorium, a ceiling light fixture from one of the stairwells, couple of oak stairwell banisters, a classroom blackboard, couple of electric wall clocks, old text books, a porcelain “Kindergarten” doorway nameplate and old lantern slides from the 1920’s. I even left with the small 1940’s Magic Chef Stove that was used by the teachers in their second floor lounge. Later, I was even able to retrieve the solid oak science desk with the black top that my science teacher used for his fascinating experiments. Needless to say my wife Christine didn’t share in my delight when I started to bring these antiquities home. Thankfully though she has since recovered from the newly acquired collection of old school mementos.

Shortly before Memphis’s final dance with the wrecking ball, I paid a final visit. One evening after visiting with my mother, who still lives in the neighborhood, I decided to visit Memphis one last time. It was near sundown and the wind was blowing at full speed. As I peeked and wandered inside I couldn’t help but to notice that Memphis was clearly abandoned, worn out, torched and darkened. Gone were almost 100 years of echos made by countless school children scurrying through it's corridors. There was now a steady stream of water falling from the dilapidated ceiling above. The high wind created a howling sound inside the windowless school building like no other. These hideous sounds were mixed-in with sounds of metal flapping somewhere in the basement below. It sounded as though someone was downstairs banging on a piece of sheet metal with a hammer. It felt as though I stepped into some sort of horror movie. Click on Russ's image below and zoom in to see the ghostly apparition. The photo below is from the image above but closer-up.This apparition appeared in the middle basement window of the school.

As I proceeded with my nocturnal visit, the near darkness inside along with the nightmarish sounds began to unravel my adventurous spirit. I couldn’t help but to ask...could the old school building now be haunted? Surprisingly, even with all of the ghostly sounds, I found myself tip-toeing up to the third floor. Just as I stepped onto the third floor corridor, I spotted what appeared to be a silhouette of someone standing in the opposite stairwell. It looked as though both of their arms were outstretched above their head like someone hanging from a chin-up bar. I immediately froze into a mannequin-like stance trying to decide if I was looking at a person or some sort of shadow.

Was it a ghost? I don't think so. Likely, someone else had the same idea of looking around as I did. However, I didn’t stick around to find out who or what "it" was so, I raced down the dark stairwell two and three steps at a time before bouncing out the side door. Sure, it sounds embarrassing now but at the time I was positive whatever I saw had already commenced in chasing me. My only thought was to get out before "it" caught up with me. I’m sure the constant banging sounds, water dripping and the howling wind precipitated my frantic escape. That my friends, was my last experience inside our old school building. The next time I visited was after the demo to collect some of the bricks that were scattered about.

Over the years I've run into both young and old Memphis alums. It's always fun to reminisce with fellow classmates no matter what year they attended. Most agree that Memphis School was a special place. Yes, the once dignified Memphis School is now gone but the memories will always remain.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Kurt Sauer and his Recollections of Memphis School

Hello fellow Memphians... I just received a wonderful story from fellow Memphis classmate, Kurt Sauer, pictured below with his adorable grandkids. Please read Kurt's great story and consider sending in your story of your time at our old elementary school.

Click on any image to enlarge!

Hello Greg,

I'm sure, by this time, the identification of the teachers in the pictures has been answered, but in case not all have been identified, I have a couple to suggest. I'm speaking about the two black and white pics on posted on September 19, 2017.  
In pic 1, I'm certain the woman to the far left is Esther M. Keller, Supervisor of Vocal Music for Cleveland Public Schools.  When my mother was a student at Rhodes, class of '38, Esther was her choir director.  

When I was a student at Memphis (class of '60), Esther may have been in charge of the elementary schools, only.  I'm not sure how many supervisors they had at the time. I was in the first graduating class at Mooney, and Helen Neff Sokolofsky was also a supervisor, I think at the secondary level. At least, she came to observe Mr. Robinson's choir. She may have been an assistant to Esther.  I was only at Mooney for 9th grade because I had gone to William Rainy Harper for 7th and 8th grades. Also, Harper vocal music teacher Phyllis Hothem left the classroom to also become a music supervisor downtown.
Anyway, once at Rhodes I was singing with the Cleveland All-City Chorus and Esther was also our director, and remained so until I left for studies at Heidelberg College. I was in the Rhodes January '68 graduating class, but Esther asked me to continue singing with the All-City Chorus even though I wasn't starting at Heidelberg until the fall, which I was happy to do.  
For those interested, there is information concerning the All-City Chorus singing under the direction of Robert Shaw and members of the Cleveland Orchestra a new work by Leonard Bernstein, Chichester Psalms, in 1966 here:

Mr. VanNortwick, then vocal music director at Rhodes, was one of the ensemble's assistant directors and can clearly be seen standing in the picture of this article, behind the ensemble in the rehearsal room at Severance Hall.
For musicians interested in the fact that Robert Shaw was developing the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for George Szell in Cleveland for about 11 years, there is much history and information to be found here:   It was my pleasure to contribute much to this rather new website. Other All-City members also have posted letters there.

Bear with me a bit more. My first teaching job was in place before I had graduated from Heidelberg. Helen Sokolfsky recruited me to replace a retiring teacher from West Junior High School (W. 65th Street and Franklin Ave.). The building had formerly been West High School, but was then a junior high because the district had recently built Lincoln-West High School. It was already very old and well-worn, in 1972 when I started there on the staff. Fellow Rhodes alums Andy Fedynsky and Stacy Laderer were also on the teaching staff.

Continuing with that first pic, the second person may be music teacher Miss Kalocy (I'm not sure of the spelling) and the third person may be music teacher Miss or Mrs. Covill. Miss Kalocy succeeded the retiring Miss or Mrs. Covill. I may have been in 2nd grade when this happened so I'm not clear on spelling nor on the marriage status of Ms. Covill.
I am aware that district west side/east side music staff meetings sometimes took place at Memphis and this may have been the occasion to celebrate the retirement with that faculty.

In the second picture, I am only guessing, the middle woman is Miss or Mrs. Jellinek or Jelanic. Sorry to have forgotten these spellings. Anyway, my older sister, Marva (deceased) and younger brother, Mark, also attended Memphis. Great Aunt Cynthia Waite, to my wife Rosemary (Werle), had been a faculty member. No current living family members knows what grade or subject she taught, but she was an artist. 

I've enjoyed reading so much of this website and appreciate the contributions from everyone. A few of the standout teachers were Miss Demming, my kindergarten teacher who died during the Kindergarten year. Mrs. Miller, Miss Lang, Miss Cliff, and Mrs. Wurch, who I had met many times years later as her married daughter was a member of the congregation where I directed the church choir.  Mrs. Wurch made science fun and interesting.  Miss Cliff had a finger injury when I was in her third grade class. Maybe she slammed a couple of fingers in her car door, but I remember her always asking us to pray for the recovery of those fingers. Mrs. Volk was the principal, a kindly lady.  Florence Walzak was the art teacher who was very creative and dramatic, who did things with much flare and flourish. She LOVED turquoise and silver jewlery! Bangles and baubles always dangling and clinking around the room. She was very inspirational for my sister who became an art teacher and taught in the Cleveland system at Tremont and Bryant, among other places.

Mrs. Stillman was an excellent math teacher.  I really learned in her class. I had Mrs. Kresse before she married John Kresse, and I think her maiden name was Romanovsky. She was a fine teacher. Senior year at Rhodes, Jeff B., and I were aids for Mr. Sovey and Mr. Kresse. On Fridays, Mr. Sovey would give us the keys to his older Volvo and we'd drive to Benny Shapiro's to buy corned beef sandwiches for them and for us. 

Miss Ethel F. Baker could kill just by looking at you. She was a good teacher, but sometimes cruel in applying discipline. I remember her throwing a chalk-filled eraser at Roger B., and beaning him on the head. Yes, and I remember her silver chalk holders. She was always attending to her nose and which may have been an allergy to chalk dust. I remember when she purchased her Checker.  

Another car story.  I believe it was Miss Kalocy who purchased a white 1957 Ford Starliner, where the power hard-top folded into the trunk. There was a problem when one of the new students to the school took a tube of green paint from the art room and added unwanted pin-striping to her brand new vehicle.

I have other neighborhood memories to share at some point. For instance, I worked at Brookside Pool as "engineer" when I was 16, testing the water and manually chlorinating on the hour, draining, cleaning and filling it weekly.
Enough rambling. I hope these memories may stir other students who happen onto the blog.

Kurt Sauer

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rhodes 40th Class Reunion!

For those of us that graduated from James Ford Rhodes High School in 1978, please join us for our 40th Reunion. It's scheduled for Saturday, September 8, 2018. It will be held at Forest City Shuffleboard at 4506 Lorain Avenue, Cleveland, 44102.

For more information, email Sue Barto at:

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Ladies and gentlemen....Here's our first and second contests. This is for the students that went to Memphis during the 50-60s. I will also have contests coming up that will be for students that attended during the 70s then one more contest for students from the 80s. 
Scroll down to the bottom picture for contest #2. Enter either contest 1 or 2, not both.

Contest #1....Name each of the six teachers in the photos below. These are the photos that Gloria (Gorczyca) Downey was nice enough to submit. If you know the names, please email them to me at:
In order to give everyone a chance to see this, we will give everyone until October 15th to respond. Once I get everyone's email with the correct names, I will place your names in a bowl and my wife will pick out two winners.
Tell us the names from L to R for photo #1
Tell us the names from L to R for photo #2
Each of the two winners can pick any two of these fine artifacts from our school. I also have a pencil sharpener not pictured that will also be available. I found the flashlight in the custodians office and it still works! That's another YOYO, a box of super old Sucrets, old pop bottle, some old clay that's still semi-pliable, old chalk and a can of silver decorative spray.

Contest #2.....Interestingly, 4 out of the 7 products pictured above were made in Cleveland. Tell me which of the 4 were made in Cleveland and you will win a prize. Contest rules same as above, Oct 15th deadline but only one name with the correct answer will be pulled for this one. Good Luck!