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Old-School: 1953

Old-School: 1953

Jan. 29, 1953. "Greenville School, town of Greenburgh, New York. Foyer." At right, "Third Grade Paintings." 5x7 negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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Academic Aromas II

My elementary school had similar smells as Gooberpea mentioned except for Ms. Borcherding’s rose petal perfume and Aqua-Net hairpspray since mine was the Shrine of the Little Flower.

No parochial student of my era '46-'52 could ever forget the smell of a rainy Friday. There was the aroma of wet boys' cudoroy school pants mingled with the aromas of the brown bag Catholic lunches of that era. Hardboiled eggs, fried eggs, salmon croquettes, fried fish and for a lucky few crab cakes created a meatless miasma of unforgettable smells.

Re: Academic Aromas

One more: that green stuff the janitor threw on the floor before he swept.

My Thoughts Exactly, Gooberpea!

Upon seeing this photo of what could've been my elementary school at Kincheloe AFB, Michigan I too was overwhelmed with "aromatic" memories. I giggled to myself while thinking, "I wonder if anyone else associates memories with smells", and all at once I read your post, Goober Pea. Apart from Ms. Cherry Tomato, you got it, exactly!

Hey, that's my school

What a surprise today at my daily glimpse of Shorpy as I saw "my" Greenville School where I attended second through fourth grades from 1950-54. That Shorpy would single out such a relatively insignificant school in of all in the country seemed a bit strange so I did a double take to see that it was actually "my" Greenville School. Although I walked past the furniture in the foyer every day, my memory does not recall it after 62 years, yet that memory clearly remembers riding rain, snow, or shine on a 1950 English 3-speed Rudge bicycle to school every day. I rode that Rudge through 1970 in college. The Greenburg area of Scarsdale was a wonderful place to grow up.

Strangely, it was a 1958 photo of my new Redwood High School in Larkspur, CA that was posted on Shorpy some years back that got me to looking at Shorpy every day. Great site and many memories.

[You're in my 1961 Redwood Log yearbook, your senior year, my freshman. I posted that 1958 Redwood photo my brother took. -tterrace]

More than familiar

This doesn't look like my elementary school, this WAS my elementary school. I went to kindergarten here in 1955. I was put into shock this morning when I woke up to this photo. Funny, the only thing I remember were the naps. My brother went there too.


Modernist architecture and, yes, I went to schools very similar to this. They were, like most modernist designs, stiff, cold, and boring.

In this picture, gaze with head shaking at the Danish modern furniture, which I think was designed to be as uncomfortable and unattractive as possible.

Thank you. It's good to get that off my chest!

Academic Aromas

Ahhh, the scent of a mid-century American elementary school. Our sense of smell and the way our brains organize memory (the olfactory bulb is part of the brain's limbic system) are very closely related; aromas can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously. I guess it works in reverse, too, because seeing this school scene caused ghost scents to appear in my office this morning as I indulged my coffee and breakfast taco and Shorpy habits. The phantom aromas have to be strong to overpower a taco and cup of Ruta Maya…but here’s what I detected:

*The indigo dye in brand new blue jeans
*A whiff of Cavendish pipe smoke coming from the principal’s office
*Sweaty kids – not the sourly rank teen kind, but the innocent 4th grade kind
*Mimeograph ink
*Fish sticks and sheet cake from the cafeteria
*Wood shavings from the pencil sharpeners
*Bic pen ink
*Cardboard Duo-Tang folders
*Cut grass from the playground
*Crayola crayons and construction paper
*An olfactory stew of gum eraser, chalk dust, and Elmer’s glue
*Ms. Borcherding’s rose petal perfume and Aqua-Net hairpspray

And perhaps my most vivid olfactory memory: the faintest hint of “Charlie” perfume, booze and cigarette smoke wafting around the hot-before-I-knew-what-hot-was library assistant Ms. Sherri D’Amato (Cherry Tomato).

Goober Pea

Natural Light Everywhere

The complete LOC set is fascinating. Love these midcentury school designs, with abundant natural light in classrooms--and windows that open!--very unlike classrooms in the school where I teach (built in the 1990's). For the nerdiest among us, here is an interesting history of school design 1900-present.


I'm sure this looks familiar to Shorpyites of a certain age - it looks just like my elementary school in Michigan. Most of the 50's and 60's schools seemed to share the same DNA. Many of those windows were blocked off and insulated in the panic of the oil crisis in the '70s.

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