Wayne County, N.Y.

Contributed by Allyn Hess Perry, from files at the Office of the County Historian

One Hundred Graduates of the L.U.S. Meet, Greet and Sever.

The banquet at the School House last evening was the best since the Alumni Association was formed. One hundred guests were present. The menu was as printed last week and was served under the direction of Caterer Walters. The literary program was as originally prepared except that E.M. McGonigal of the Review took Albert M. Ehart's place. The responses by Judge Dunwell, District Attorney Ennis, Mrs. J.H. Rudd, Miss Talitha Koester, Clark Mason, Frank Mirick, Miss Mary Williams and Editor McGonigal were of a high order, and that they were greatly appreciated was proven by the applause which was frequently given by the banqueters.

Before giving the pleasures of the evening over to Toastmaster Glen, the following officers were elected: President, Mrs. Nellie Campbell; vice president, Miss Eva Price; secretary, Arthur Engel; treasurer, Miss Rena Dickie; executive committee, the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, Mrs. C.G. Zimmerlin, Mrs. Mary Logan, Mrs. C.R. Sherwood, Miss Koester, Miss Tinsley.

The decorations in the banquet hall spoke in complimentary terms of the committee. In various parts of the large room were cozy corners, flowers, rugs, easy chairs, tete-a-tetes, etc. The music by the Misses Gilbert and Fuller was of a pleasing order and added greatly to the pleasures of the evening.

Upon accepting the gavel of Toastmaster, Willard A. Glen, '83, L.U.S., now of Syracuse, addressed the guests as follows:

An event like this is always enjoyable, as there come together very many who see each other only occasionally, if at all, at other times, and thus have opportunity of touching hands and hearts, which, if for no other reason are responsive because those assembled here have at some time or other studied in the same institution. It is a time when old associations are renewed, memory of past events revived, and seemingly, the old, the middle aged and the young again graduate as though members of the same class. But the basic element of such an event is not its social features so much as what it signified; and that is that there have gone forth from Lyons Union School hundreds of young men and women equipped for life's battle who are fighting the forces of ignorance which at times apparently are about to dominate the world. Our forces have gone out and joined the innumerable regiments which have been recruited from other schools and colleges thereby composing an army which by lighting against the forces of ignorance have reduced illiteracy in the United States to less than thirteen per cent.

The graduation from our schools and colleges of thousands every year gives to the world better manhood and womanhood, and thus the government of Nation, State and municipality is greatly improved.

In this process of transformation, if comparison be accurately made, we of Lyons Union School have done and are doing our share, since we are represented in all the vocations of life.

In introducing Judge Dunwell, Toastmaster Glen said: "I consider it exceedingly appropriate for one who was born, educated and lived in this village to respond to the toast, 'Our Alma Mater,' since he is now at least, if never before, a good judge, and consequently competent.

Judge Dunwell responded as follows: Mr. Toastmaster and Fellow Students of the Lyons Union School:

In reflecting today, upon what I should say tonight, my thoughts took me back so far into the past that for almost the first time in my life I wondered if I were not beginning to be one of the old fellows. But as I look about me this evening and see so many of my contemporaries, looking so bright and young and handsome, I have no such misgivings and am myself young again.

If I were called upon to name any characteristic of our school that has distinguished it from any of the other chain of schools of the same grade in our State I would be unable to do so. But if it has not an individuality, still it has a history of its own. That history during the period we attended here is especially dear to us. It personally concerned us at an age when our lives were most impressionable. What took place here then has had its influence upon our lives ever since and will abide with us always.

In the few minutes you spare me tonight I have thought it appropriate to refer briefly to that period in the history of the school when I attended, the decade from about 1859 to 1869. When I first entered, the school was not a free school although it became such at about that time. Several flourishing private schools existed here at that time, for, so long as tuition must be paid, some parents preferred them for young children.

I have a faint recollection of an opposition by the largest taxpayers to making ours a free school, but I suppose that in that day as in this, when numbers count, the many succeeded.

There were then nine trustees. They frequently attended in a body when the whole school was assembled for the chapel exercises. I remember that we younger scholars looked upon them with considerable awe. We didn't know with any accuracy what they were for, but understood in a general way that they were the highest ruling power of the school.

The principal when I entered was Prof. Snow. As I remember him his distinguishing trait was his government of the school by corporal punishment for every infraction of the rules. In fact it prevailed in all the rooms and was looked upon as a matter of course.

The Wednesday afternoon rhetorical exercises for the upper grades were a great bugbear to the students of those days. All sorts of shifts were adopted to escape them, but the discipline of the school would finally succeed in driving most of the reluctant ones upon the stage. The girls generally read compositions. The boys were allowed to commit to memory and speak selections from the poets and orators.

I remember one occasion when a boy read as his composition a very fascinating description of "The Lion." The next morning the principal read the same before the whole school from a book taken from the school library.

On those Wednesday occasions Brutus' speech was a favorite selection.

One boy in order to give a more than usually realistic effect to his rendition of the oration, when he came to the closing words to the effect that he had the same dagger for himself with which he had stabbed Caeser when it should please his country to need his death, drew from his pocket a ridiculously small pocket knife and flourished it about his head with an apparent earnestness of suicidal purpose, in case the contingency referred to should occur. But the seriousness of the effort failed to make an impression and the laughter of the boy audience must have convinced the orator that the oration of the Roman patriot upon which the great Shakespeare had shed the luster of his immortal genius had fallen upon unappreciative ears.

Prof. Van Benschoten was a distinguished principal of the school at one time during the period referred to. He afterwards became a college professor. Prof. Hutchins was principal several years and left an excellent record.

Two principals, Col. Kreutzer and Col. Adams, went to the war as captains and became, respectively, colonels of their regiments.

With the advent of Col. Adams corporal punishment closed. I believe he would have felt it beneath his character to tolerate it. He was a man of fine, gentlemanly instincts, greatly beloved by the pupils. Col. Kreutzer, afterwards for many years trustee, gave his valuable experience to the interests of the school in that capacity.

A history of the school in those days would be incomplete without some reference to Israel Dwinnell, the old janitor. He was a friend of the scholars. They all liked him. He never walked upon the sidewalks. He always took the middle of the road. His favorite habit was tobacco chewing. Realizing this the scholars contributed to the purchase of a fine silver tobacco box. Prof. Van Beuschoten called Mr. Dwinnell upon the stage at the closing exercises on the last day of school and handed him the tobacco box at the close of a short presentation speech. The old janitor thanked the donors gratefully. On all important occasions he used the box and was always proud to show it.

Mr. John L. Cole of this place was for a short time acting principal. He was popular and it is to be regretted that he did not continue to be a teacher for which vocations he is fitted by education and disposition.

The Lyons Union School has a high reputation and must have always been a good school. It must have been one of the public institutions of which Lyons was proud for visitors from out of town were often brought to the school and shown through it as one of the sights.

Much good work was done. Boys and girls were prepared for college. Many who did not go to college depended upon the institution here as the only academic education upon which to guild their subsequent special professional or business careers. The men and women who have gone forth from it have taken worthy places in the world and the school has in all respect been an important factor in the enlightened system of education that has proved itself to be a credit to our great and progressive state and its intelligent capable people.

In asking how the devil the associate members got into this banquet, the toastmaster called upon Mrs. Rudd to respond.

How did they get there? Through the courtesy of your vote, you the happy possessor of the latter day diploma, the condition being one year in the 4th or Academic grade. But how we got there? Answer for myself by the skin of my teeth and by ever choosing for my friends those of brighter minds and willing hearts. Others of us, judging from their achievements, never had to get there - it must have been their starting point. Well do I remember my joy when our class was marched step by step to that old 4th grade. But such short-lived joy, for on making the last turn in the uppermost hall, as the doors were swung open, the bubble burst, for we faced the last row of "grownups" in the east and low whistles issued from the room on the west.

How the devil did they get there? Ah, Mr. Toastmaster, not from thee the wound should come, not from thee. Memory seems to have failed thee, for it was not so long before the time when my babe's blue eyes blinked in the sun on the upper terrace and other eyes blinked under Japanese umbrellas that grew up in the long grass round the Musical Academy below. The wonder to me is, how the devil some of you got there. I don't mean under the umbrellas.

'How the devil did we get there?" How it rankles! A good beginning helped, for we started the day with bible and prayer. Then we sang "John Nott why not John Nott," and with such soul-inspiring words we could climb to any height. And we got there, in the good old way with no promise of a sugar plum after our struggle with Regents. Oh, no when we aspired to Cornell and Vassar we had to go with no sheep skin to help us along. Children (the graduating class) where are your professors, your judges, your Civic Club, Relief Society and influential citizens.

Don't spend so much time speculate on how we got there. Try and get somewhere yourselves!

The next speaker, said toastmaster in introducing Mr. Mason and inviting him to toast "The Class of '04" was born since I graduated and to him and other neophytes I probably seem like the old colored man who rowed George Washington across the Delaware."

Mr. Mason replied: The class of '04 is grateful for having the privilege of being present at this noble assembly of elders. There is no stage in life where conceit so frequently shows itself as at graduation. But after this toast to infants I hope that none will be detected. I will not attempt to forecast the destinies of the fairer members of the class as no air is clear enough upon which to see the fortune they deserve. But in the class there is material for great men. Our esteemed president Mr. Blaine will be an inventor of devices for automobiles which will surprise the world and expects to settle miles away. Brother Rogers will gain renown as a great engineer, Mr. Hoffman will discover new ways of making radium; Mr. Gardner will revolutionize the world with his editorial pen and Mr. Kneeland will delve deep into the depths of pharmaceutical abyss.

After this brief week the class of '04 may never meet together again. It has been said that there is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. My wish is that we may catch the current at its height lest all our lives be bound in shadows and in miseries.

"The Absentees" by District Attorney Ennis was one of the finest responses of the evening. The Press regrets its inability to give a truthful report. Mr. Ennis thought occasions like last evening of great value. Members forgot bickering and trouble and mingled on a common ground once a year. He treated the absentees as present at least in spirit and paid short, personal tributes to those gone before.

"The Faculty" was responded by Miss T. Koester who spoke as follows: Words are inadequate to do justice to the profound wisdom and general excellence of the faculty. One of our number to-night was my teacher, honored and respected even though he used to keep me after school until I learned some poetry. But I must compliment him, otherwise I would never have learned Thanatopsis. Another of our faculty was my own pupil, in the artless day of my first teaching, so I feel myself a connecting link between the ancient and modern history of our teachers. From the beginning of time schoolmasters and schoolmistresses have occupied important places in the development of the life of every community. The pedagogue has many times been described. (Every one is familiar with Ichaob Craine, the admiratino of Housewives because he had read many books clear through.)

When you compare the school teachers as depicted by Dickens with the galaxy of stars which adorned the teaching forces of the Lyons Union School, do you not thank kind fortune that you were permitted to live in this century and receive your education at the Lyons Union School.

Delightful task to rear thought: To teach the young idea how to shoot.

However if the poet has ever taught the young idea how to shoot through the multiplication table, the rules for long division, the mysteries of spelling, conjugation of verbs, he would have been obliged to irate parents whose young ideas invariably refuse to shoot at all. The chances are that he would have expressed himself in less elegant but decidedly more forcible sentiment.

The grind of the school year is over and when we see these gallant young men and charming young women, the finished product of our school, the grind is all forgotten and we are proud that we have been able to contribute even so little to these results.

My toast to the faculty is, "May they ever look forward and with eyes of faith see beyond and above the horrid grindstone the limitless possibilities of a developed human life."

"The Better Half" was toasted by Frank Mirick who said a man victim was no sooner found than the committee proceeded to tie his hands by selecting his subject. Mr. Mirick said many witty things. He showed how greatly the ladies outnumbered the men last night, and he, in the face of those great odds, made a graceful surrender, throwing a rhetorical sunflower or two to the bouquet contained in the toast card. Mr. Mirick then described woman in beautiful words which were much appreciated.

"The Bigger Half," Miss Mary Williams responded:

As to his not being better, perhaps not in some ways, but I ask you ladies, if it is not a fact that there are many ways in which man is better than we. Otherwise, how are we to reconcile the strenuous efforts most of us are making in this strenuous age to imitate the men? Imitation, you know, is the sincerest flattery. We imitate him in business, and follow as closely as we are able his commercial methods, they must, therefore, be better than ours. We imitate his manners in society, deeming them, evidently, more attractive than the softer manners practiced by our Grandmothers, the peaceful serenity of whose lives was not disturbed by dreams of woman's emancipation. And when we have accomplished all these things we look about us and proudly state that we are nearly emancipated. Nearly, for a woman's complete emancipation has not arrived until she proves her ability to seize a man.

Now what is he like that we should so desire to be like him:

How much a man is like old shoes.

For instance, both a sole may lose, both made tight

By Cobblers, both get left and right.

And both were made to go on feet.

Both need heeling: oft are sold

And both in time turn all to mould.

With shoes the last is first,

With men the first shall be the last.

When shoes wear out they're mended new

When men wear out they're men-dead too;

Both get trod upon and both will treat on others, nothing loth:

Both have ties: and both inclined

When polished, in the world to shine.

And both peg out. Now would you choose

To be a man, or be his shoes.

"The Fatal Step" by E.M. McGonigal was the closing response of the evening and was much enjoyed. His remarks were in contrast to Mr. Mirick who not having been married as ready to go into rhapsodies over the fair ones. His speech was one in contrast, showing the patient before and after taking.

Back to Town of Lyons Section

Created: 6/26/04
Copyright © 2004 - 2011 Allyn Hess Perry
Wayne County NYGenWeb
A County Site of the USGenWeb Project
All Rights Reserved.