Friday, April 29, 2011

Bruce Stoessner and his memories of Memphis School

Thanks to our friend and Memphis Alum, Bruce Stoessner for this great story on our old elementary school.

I came across your Memphis School website and loved reading about the school and what became of it. It brought back memories of my time at Memphis. I started school there in September of 1961 to December 1962. I came there from Mark Twain School. I started at Mark Twain in the 3rd grade after my parents moved south of Memphis Ave. on West 57th St. Before that, I was at William Rainey Harper school. So, you see, all three of my elementary schools are no more.

So I attended Memphis for the second half of 5th grade and the entire 6th grade because Mark Twain only went up to the first half of 5th grade. I always thought that that was kind of weird. Anyway, my homeroom teacher and science teacher was Mrs. Mildred Wurch. My homeroom was 307, the science room. My art teacher, handcraft teacher and handwriting teacher was Mrs. Walzak. My English and social studies teacher was Miss Ethel F. Baker who was very stern and had an allergy to chalk dust so she used to use a special chalk holder. She became my homeroom teacher for the entire 6th grade. She was the only person I ever knew who drove a Checker automobile. The Checker was usually used for taxicabs but she had hers special ordered. It was a big boxy car but it fit her personality. My math teacher was Mrs. Stillman. My choir and music teacher was Miss Mondt. My gym teacher was Miss Damm and finally my instrumental music teacher was Miss
Pauline Diamond.

It is amazing to me that after all these years, it is all so vivid to me. I can see the gym with the worn steps going down to the basement. I can see the auditorium that stuck out of the back of the building. I remember being up on the small stage for music performances for the PTA mothers. My mom was there and she had tears in her eyes as she watched me play my trumpet or sing in the choir. I remember the principal's office in the front of the building. I remember that we had a boys entrance on the east side of the building while the girls was on the west side of the building. So many memories, classmates and teachers. I wonder what happened to all of them. I am sure that all the teachers have passed on by now. Probably a number of the students too. I am 60 years old now but it is all like it happened yesterday.

I loved growing up in Old Brooklyn. It was a great neighborhood and a great place to grow up. I still live in the Cleveland area in Parma. I am retired for 6 years now and occasionally, I come back to that area just for the memories. When I go by the vacant lot where Memphis stood, I can still see the building in my mind. I can still here the kids in the school yard. It was a simpler time.

Greg, thank you so much for the website and for saving all the memorabilia. When I see the pictures of the signs, books, the school guard badge, the bricks that you have on the website, it all comes flooding back to me.

Your work is much appreciated,

Bruce Stoessner

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A BRICK, A BELL AND A BOOK...A Reminiscent Memphis School Story...By Kail Tescar

Memphis Alumnus, Kail Tescar and his handsome son, Kail Jr.
Kail's awesome collection of souvenirs from our old school. Click on any photo to enlarge. Once enlarged, click again to super enlarge!


My name is Kail Tescar and I was born and raised in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland Ohio. I attended Memphis Elementary school from 1966 until 1972. I started in the basement Pre-K classroom of Miss Goodnight (“Good-night, Miss Goodnight!”), and worked my way to the top floor sixth grade classroom of Miss Emch.

I moved away from Cleveland in 1999 to a small town in Georgia and rarely had the chance to return to the area until the memorial for my dearly departed Grandmother. It was a sad time, but also a time of rekindled friendships and a lot of nostalgia. When I heard Memphis was being torn town I decided to take one last look at my former school.

What I found surprised me. The once familiar structure now seemed completely foreign, covered with graffiti, shackled with chains and with not a single window. As I looked around the playground I couldn't help but think of old friends and joyous hours spent at play on the swings and slides that were once there. The metal stairs to the auditorium/lunchroom still stood and I vividly remembered swinging from them as a makeshift monkey bar, passing the time before the bell would ring and we would be called to class.

Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to see if I could gain entry and have a look inside. I tried the front door and found the chains easily slipped from the handles. I stepped inside and was shocked by the flood of emotions that fell over me. The once wondrous halls so filled with light and activity had fallen into gloomy decay. But the memories spent there were still so fresh that I felt like Rip Van Winkle returned from his slumber, as if I were in a Twilight Zone episode where a hundred years has passed over night. Everything so familiar yet totally changed. The school had long since been stripped of it’s material value, the wooden floors of the gymnasium, the seats and curtains from the auditorium, the teacher’s desks and blackboards all were gone. I visited all of my old classrooms, where I found the floors, having been exposed to the elements, buckled, warped and swelled, like the waves on an ocean ‘Where are they now?’ I wondered as I thought of my teachers, friends, favorite books from the library, music class, and everything from drawing Kitty cats in the basement, to my prepubescent unrequited love for the six foot Goddess in a mini skirt, Miss Emch.

I decided I must have a few souvenirs before it was gone forever. I returned early the next morning before my trip back to Georgia armed with a wrench and screw driver. I took a few things, like the door handle off of my kindergarten class, a bell from the hall, and a chair that my 6 year old son sits in today. Attached you will find a picture that contains my little memorial to Memphis Elementary School. It contains a bell, a brick and a book, and I keep them around to remind me of great times spent there, and of a much simpler world.

Here’s to the good old days!

Many thanks to my good friend and fellow classmate, Kail Tescar for this awesome story and the vintage photographs shown below. He can be contacted through his website

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Awesome photographs of our last day of school from 1972

One of my best and true long-time friends is Kail Tescar. Kail has graciously sent these awesome photographs of our very last day at Memphis Elementary School in June of 1972.

Pictured above is a group shot of some of the 1972 graduates and Miss Emch standing in front of the school. To see any image closer, just click on it.

The always impeccably dressed and super cool, Mr. Donald Sopka. Mr. Sopka is seen here signing autographs on our last day of school. Mr. Sopka was one of my all-time favorite teachers.
A fellow '72 classmate, the late, Frank Gundich (in yellow shirt).

These photos reminded me of the yearly ritual of getting the school ready for summer vacation. We covered everything in-sight with newspaper and washed everything down with Ajax.
The awesome and always fashionable, Miss Emch!
Here's my friend Kail Tescar, who provided these great pictures. Kail is standing near Memphis Avenue along with a couple of students and Miss Emch. When showing these pictures to my daughter, she quickly pointed out that Kail was our very own version of a Justin Beiber!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Looking for the old Memphis School Sign

I'm hoping to find the old cast-iron Memphis School sign that was once planted in the front lawn of the school. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this sign or who picked it, please e-mail me at:

I'm willing to pay a sizable finders fee for it! It was a black iron sign with white letters and was mounted on a black pole. See photo above, it's partially hidden behind Miss Emch in the group shot. I believe it read: Memphis Elementary School - Cleveland Public Schools.
Thanks, Greg

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Memphis School Relic Giveaway!

The antique table from Memphis School. Click on this image to view. Once enlarged, click again to super enlarge.

One of the Memphis School relics I have and no longer need is this beautiful drafting-style table. We once used it as a computer table. So, if you didn't get a chance to pick up a souvenir from Memphis when it came down, here's your chance to have something really cool.

If you live in the greater Cleveland area and are a former student of Memphis, this table is yours! Come get it! It's free!

It's offered on a first-come basis and will be available in a few weeks. You will need a pick-up truck, van or a station-wagon to pick it up. It's not too heavy. If you're a senior citizen, and still live in the local area, I'd be happy to deliver it.

This table was pulled out of Memphis' basement near the classroom that faced the teacher's parking-lot. It was removed about 2-years before the school was leveled. It could easily be some 70-80 years old and by the looks of it...spent its entire existence at Memphis. It's made of solid wood. Restoration is recommended and needed as it's very old!

If interested and if you can prove you were once a student at Memphis, please e-mail me at: