- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

GAP, Pa. (AP) - Glenn Eshleman remembers when he would drive his high school principal’s car to pick up school supplies.

Ella Rynier Rutter recalls walking two miles to a one-room Amish schoolhouse.

And Mary Tshudy Pleger admits that even though she graduated from Paradise High School, she would cheer for Salisbury High School’s baseball team when they played Paradise.

Those were some of the stories that were enjoyed by members of the Paradise High School Class of 1950 at a somewhat impromptu 65th reunion Saturday at the Dutch’Way Restaurant in Gap.

The idea of holding a reunion took root a little more than three weeks ago, when Pauline Burkholder Weaver remarked to a friend that it had been 65 years since the class with 33 members had graduated.

“This was pulled together rather quickly,” she told the 22 classmates and spouses who attended Saturday’s gathering.

Paradise High closed in 1958. The area is now part of the Pequea Valley School District, and the reunion served as a reminder of how different things were decades ago.

Pleger attended Salisbury High School in White Horse through her junior year. But Salisbury did not have a 12th grade.

“My parents told me I could go to Paradise or Parkesburg” to finish her education, she said.

She chose Paradise because it was closer. And, she said, when the two baseball teams would play each other, “I rooted for my old team.”

Nancy Zimmerman Probst was a sixth-grader in Strasburg when the school that housed all 12 grades there was destroyed by fire three days before Christmas in 1944. With the United States locked in World War II, funding was not available to build a new school. Parents therefore had the option to send their children to school in Paradise, Lampeter or Lancaster. Probst wanted to attend Lampeter High School but there were no openings, so she opted to go to Paradise.

Sports were not as important as music and plays at Paradise, said Kathleen Denlinger Verzilli, who played trumpet in the band and piano for plays and operettas. Verzilli, who was class secretary, traveled from Youngstown, Ohio, for the reunion.

Rutter, who played the flute and piccolo and had the lead role in the play “The Sunbonnet Girl,” said her first classroom was a one-room school “where I was the only ‘English’ girl. Everyone else was Amish.”

That school also burned down, she said.

Beulah Feister Hershey said that Eshleman, who was junior and senior class president, had a habit of getting her in trouble.

“He would always turn around and talk and the teacher would yell at me,” she said.

For his part, Eshleman said he enjoyed driving Principal Arthur Eshelman’s car to pick up school supplies.

“He would say, ‘Here’s the keys,’” Eshleman said. “It was a new Oldsmobile. That was big time.”

Driving that car must have made a lasting impression on him. After working as an accountant and controller for several companies, he left that profession to become a bus driver, serving 21 years with Red Rose Transit and 13 as a driver for Conestoga Tours.

Before the group sat down to eat, Weaver’s husband Joe, who was not a member of the class, offered a brief prayer.

“Sixty-five years,” he concluded. “We realize how time goes so fast.”

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Online:

https://bit.ly/1GQMaZG

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Information from: LNP, https://lancasteronline.com

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