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To add a new posting, send an email to me at with a comment, question, story, photo, observation, etc. It will be posted below, shortly after the email is received. To comment on an existing posting, click on the "comments" command below the posting and type your comment. Your comment will show up immediately.   Pete Stemmer

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bass River School Days- Some 1970 's Memories

I received the following email from Bart VanderGaag regarding his memories at the New Gretna Elementary School in the 1970's and thought others may be interested in reading it. Hopefully, It will bring back some fond memories for those of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere who attended the school back then. If so, let's here from you.

Pete S

What a pleasant surprise to find this website. My family moved to Bass River township in 1971 at the beginning of a rapid population growth phase of the township. The 5 of us kids (Kurt, Mark, Bart, Vanessa and Marie) spread across the grades (6th ,5th ,3rd, 2nd, 1st ) so I know many of the kids here and more not shown. I was enrolled in the third grade and immediately I fell in love with Melinda Allen. I don’t believe the feeling was as strong in the other direction but I am glad I got that off my chest. J

2nd Grade Yearbook Photo - 1970

I became close friends with Ron Voorhis and Walter Kalinolfski. I knew Keith Wilson, Mark Wetmore, Herman Wunch, Pam Adams, Genie Cryton, David Burgenon, Grace Steinhauer, Debbie Forgach, Randy Brunt, Mike Patterson and more.

My brothers and I showed up for the first day at New Gretna school, just the single building then, with very long hair that our parents allowed. We started a long hair trend amongst the boys (see the 1973 and 74 yearbook) that in hind sight looked a bit silly at that age but from our perspective we were the stuff (was it groovy or hip?). I am thankful that my parents gave us that degree of freedom.

Mr. Crawford, my 4th and 5th grade teacher, was simply the most amazing teacher who not only prepared students academically but also build our character and self esteem. I will always be thankful to him for that. I am also thankful that he snatched my love note intended for Melinda from Ronny’s hands before Ron showed it to the whole class! Crawford ended it by saying simply that it was a plain piece of paper. Yeah I had it bad for Melinda and thank you for sparing me further embarrassment Mr. Crawford. Oh, to get even with Ronny …check out his picture in the 1974 year book. Now that is some groovy hair J

2nd Grade Yearbook Photo - 1970

I want to acknowledge that Ron Voorhis broke every school record in every sport, many previously held by his older brother’s Paul and Pat. I am certain no one has ever equaled him since. He was phenomenal at kickball. He kicked hundreds of home runs. (Somewhere is Mr. Crawford’s statistics for each kid across years) Ronny was fast, coordinated and agile and could kick that ball farther than anyone. I have a picture in my mind when he was stealing second base jumping in mid air 4 feet over the ball that Mr.Crawford threw at him. He not only got second but took home as well. Genie came in a distant but respectable second place. When you pitched the ball to her everyone backed way up. I will say for my own prowess that I could not use kickball to impress Melinda.

I did become the captain of the Safety Patrol and yes I still remember the pledge. I had a short stint as editor of the school newspaper. These didn’t impress anyone but it was never intended to. It was fun.

It is actually amazing how vivid these memories are and the sheer volume of them from that age. Time was much longer. Summers lasted forever. Jackson 5 on the radio, riding and jumping with our bicycles and eventually motorcycles in the fields and woods, jumping from underneath the turnpike bridge and swimming in Bass River, playing football in the fields getting ice cream at the creamy freeze across from Viking Yachts, building forts, sledding down the side of the Parkway ramp, ice skating on the pond, some of us without the benefit of skates, roller skating at the Manahawkin Rink. These are just a few snapshots of a very rich childhood.

Well we graduated from grade school and shed a small bit of our innocence as life got more complicated. Southern regional middle school and then high school were overwhelming in the volume of kids and numbers of teachers. What mattered changed. A different phase of life’s journey began as we continued to slowly shed our youth and the pace of time began to accelerate.

I apologize to the majority of my classmates for not writing a glimpse into your stories from my memories. Know that I am glad that each of you were in my life in some way. I simply have to get some sleep before getting up for work in the morning.

Good night Melinda. I hope you are having an amazing life.


1 comment:

  1. Pete,

    Thank you for posting my little tidbit from the past. Nice touch with adding Melinda and Ronny’s picture!

    It is funny how life works. I had an urge to drop Ron a note just to let him know that I appreciated our friendship when we were kids. He really was a great kid. So I went to the web, put in his name and stumbled onto your website with the 1970 year book posted.

    It brought back fond memories seeing those pictures.

    Thanks again,