Clyde C. Hadden Elementary: Linda Molnar McAdams

Guest Author: Linda Molnar McAdams ‘70

Clyde C Hadden

Clyde C. Hadden started out as a little log cabin in 1859 and in 1900 became a two-room brick schoolhouse. In 1928 construction of a new five- classroom school began, which was called Mentor Avenue School.  In 1940, after undergoing changes, the gymnasium was added.  In 1952, seven new classrooms were added to hold 335 students.  Because of that many students, other schools like Melridge Elementary were being built.  In 1959 the school was renamed Clyde C. Hadden, for the man who served 30 years on the Painesville Township School Board.

When I took the tour of Clyde C. Hadden, before its closing, I was flooded with so many good memories of the days spent there in preparation for our future studies at John R. Williams and Riverside High School.

I attended 4th, 5th and 6th grades at Clyde C. Hadden; and my brother, Roger, attended all six grades. We both have many fond memories of our teachers, classmates and times during the early 1960s.

If you attended Clyde C. Hadden, you knew the great teachers who taught and molded our minds.  They not only had us learn reading, writing and arithmetic, but patriotism, courtesy, discipline and innovation.  Who can forget when we were introduced to Dick and Jane with Puff and Spot and reading Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill magazines along with our Golden Books and going to the Morley Library.

We had “show and tell” and many of us brought in some unique items to display or pass around to our fellow classmates (especially creepy, crawly insects)!  We enjoyed art, music, sports, and of course, the friendships we forged during those early years, some of which last to this day!

At recess, we played softball, red rover, kickball, duck-duck goose, and some of us would occupy the cylindrical concrete culvert pipe where two or three kids could sit inside and exchange secrets or just watch the other kids. Girls utilized string to play cats-in-the-cradle. A lot of girls jumped rope, and I still have some of the jump rope ditties we used to share with each other. “Blondie & Dagwood,” “Teddy Bear-Teddy Bear,” “Fudge Fudge…Call the Judge,” and “I’m A Little Dutch Girl,” were a few.  Of course, all these activities were done while wearing dresses, skirts or jumpers – back then there were no jeans or slacks allowed for girls. We donned knee socks or tights. Also, mohair sweaters were in vogue. I still have mine!

Every school day we would gather up our trusty book bags, pencil cases and metal lunch pails and head for the bus stop. Once we were deposited at school, we’d hang up our coats and jackets in the cloakroom and listen for the bell to settle in for the morning. After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, we would hear the daily announcements over the loud speaker system, which would get us on our way for the day ahead.  At lunch time our principal, Mr. Elmore Paxton, would enter the cafeteria by saying “OK folks.” He’d point to his wrist and raise his watch to his ear and say “I can’t hear the ticking on my watch, so let’s keep it down!”

In 1960, JFK was stumping here in Ohio and rode through Mentor into Painesville. My mother and brother saw him pass in his motorcade on Route 20, as he went on to Hellriegel’s Inn to speak from the porch.  A lot of students walked over from Hadden, and people from the surrounding area came to hear him give his speech.  We were already home from school on Friday November 22, 1963, when we got the word that he had been assassinated.

My brother, Roger, and our mother had the same first grade teacher — Mrs. Toan.   Mrs. Toan schooled our mother when she came from Finland at 5 years old.  In case you didn’t know, Mrs. Rutenik, also a teacher at Hadden, was Mrs. Toan’s sister.  Roger also had Miss Collins, Miss Bodnar, Mrs. Deakin, Mrs. Talbott and Mr. Garland.  I was fortunate to have my favorite teachers for 4th, 5th and 6th grades.

Mrs. Luella Deakin taught 4th grade and how special she was!  In 1961, she welcomed me as a new student and introduced me to my new classmates.  I made friends on my first day of school, because of her help and kindness.  To help us hone our arithmetic skills, and have some fun at the same time, she had us play a flash-card game, using buttons, called Whizzo!   Remember that?   One of our field trips was taking in the four- hour 1939 movie “Gone With The Wind” at Painesville’s beautiful Lake Theater.  We watched two hours of the movie, had our bagged lunch and watched the rest of one of the most classic historic movies.  For 10 year olds, it was a huge audio visual lesson about our nation’s civil war history.

Then there were those snow days when we didn’t get the school closing notification until our bus driver, Mr. Rippin, didn’t show up.  All the kids from our neighborhood bus stop would go home to get dressed for sledding at Dennis (Pepe) Palmer’s backyard.  He would ice his slide, so when you climbed up, with sled in hand, you could belly slam down the hill or go piggy-back.  We’d have hot chocolate with marshmallows, talk about what was happening at school and when we got back to Hadden, we’d tell our classmates what fun we had on our day(s) off!

When the holidays came around, Mrs. Deakin showed us how to create items to take home to our parents and family.  Since the holiday Christmas season was such a special time, Mrs. Deakin had us make a pair of candles from red and/or green honeycomb beeswax.  We used good old white paste and glitter to embellish them, and the aroma of bayberry would waft through the air.  Speaking of candles, every year for many years, the windows at Hadden were decorated with big red candlesticks with yellow/orange flames made out of construction paper.  Those candles meant the light of the season was upon us!  We couldn’t wait for Christmas and New Year’s vacation!  I sent Mrs. Deakin a Christmas card every year, until her death in 1999.  She was very special to me and to many of her students.

Mrs. Herman, the music teacher, would come into our rooms and let out with a yoohoooo!  With her pitch-pipe in hand, she’d play a note so all of us would be in tune to get ready to sing! Mr. Price was the art teacher, who helped nurture our artistic and creative abilities.

Linda Molnar Johnson McAdams in 1963.

In 1962-‘63, I remember 5th grade with Mrs. Iva Perrault.  Her room was across the hall from Mrs. Deakin’s, and we had to walk down the long corridor to her classroom (usually decorated with art and bulletins).  Whenever there was a fire drill, we walked single-file down the fire escape stairs, that exited her room, to wait for the all-clear signal.  She, too, was a very nice and caring teacher.  Whenever there were bake sales, our mother would bake something yummy to donate and even exchanged recipes with some of the lunch ladies and Mrs. Perrault too.

In 1963-‘64 for 6th grade, I loved being in Mr. Vincent Quorissimo’s room.  He resembled the actor Vince Edwards, who played Dr. Ben Casey on TV in the 1960s.   The other sixth grade teacher was Mr. Smith, who moon-lighted at downtown Painesville’s Sears & Roebuck.  For an outing, our sixth-grade class went to Mentor’s Roller Rink, and we had fun doing the flea hop and crack the whip!

As sixth-graders, we were becoming young men and women and all the learning of the past was being put to the test.  Knowing we were headed to John R. Williams and Riverside, the representation of the colors black and gold and the beaver mascot were front and center.  A lot of us owned beaver notebooks, and we wore the black and gold with fervor and anticipation of what was ahead of us. The Beatles had hit the music scene and a lot us bought their records, traded Beatles cards at recess and some of the boys even had their hair cut like The Fab Four!  Kids made chains using chewing gum wrappers and girls made notes from notebook paper that told your fortune.  If you knew origami, you were in like Flynn.  The words nifty and neato were bandied about back then, and pajama parties and drive-in movies were cool!   Elementary school offered us the opportunity to pick out an instrument to play, if we thought we would be joining JRW’s band in seventh grade. You could choose Painesville’s  Pfabe’s  or Bleckert’s music store for our instrument choices.  My brother chose the saxophone.

In closing, Clyde C. Hadden students were on their way, and we have to thank everyone through the years that taught us and shaped and sculpted us to become what we are today…grateful for those formative years and those that helped us…the bus drivers, lunch ladies, janitors, staff and all our teachers who moved us up the ladder of learning and walked the halls of our beloved elementary school…Clyde C. Hadden.

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