Gowanda Central High School
Class Of 1961
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WELCOME TO THE
GOWANDA CENTRAL SCHOOL
CLASS OF 1961
For those of you who subscribe to Facebook, you may want to check out a group called "you know you,re from Gowanda, N.Y., when" (Type in on search area) There's over 2 thousand subscribers you may know or wish to contact and great historical pictures and comments.
I am co-editor of a local newspaper for the month of April, this the editorial I wrote, thought you'd like to see how it was when I was a little 'Skin."
Early Life on the "Rez"
I have heard that you can tell when you're getting "old" when you remember the good things of your early childhood. I was born on the Seneca Nation of the Six Nations Iroquois Territory of the Allegany* "Rez" (Indian Reservation). It was late January in a snow storm so my delivery was at the farm home of my great grand parents. The mid-wife was my mother's aunt who had eight children most probably born at home. Quaker Bridge, NY, (a part of the reservation) had a general store, post office and gas station - all in one building. Also in Quaker Bridge was a train station and water tank for the train engines of the Pennsylvania Rail Road. The bridge, "Quaker Bridge", crossed the Allegany* River to the area of the Quakers, a religious group who were and are great friends of the Seneca.
Childhood was centered around family; it seemed as though everyone was a cousin. We lived in a home with no running water, a wood stove in the kitchen and a kerosene heater. There was a two hole "back house" that contained a Sears Roebuck Catalog (not for reading). My father was an "iron worker pusher" also known as a foreman for a structural steel company. Money was not an issue. We had a cow, sometimes two, pigs, chickens and a garden. There was an artesian pool across the road and down the hill; it was my job to carry water in buckets to the house and barn daily. We had a "party line" crank telephone that neighbors sometimes came to use. My father bought one of the first televisions, and on Friday nights many neighbors would come to watch the Gillette Friday Night Fights (boxing). Seneca was spoken with occasional English words. My sister and I walked to the one room school house a mile away (there were no school busses). When Monday morning came, it seemed like just a few hours after the Friday night televised fights ended.
This past weekend in Suffield, CT, we sat for our four year old grandson while his two older brothers and parents were off to ski in Vermont. He was upset to be left in bed with "Gran" and "P-Pa" at 5:30 AM (first day of daylight savings time), and our son gave him an iPad with his favorite games. He was "happy" in a home with heat and air-conditioning, hot and cold running water, and three full baths - no water to haul, no animals to feed or milk, or wood to haul for the fire. That a four year old has the ability to manipulate today's advanced technology is amazing and something to tell his grandchildren - quite different from my memories of a "crank" telephone to communicate.
Would I have wished it to be any other way? Not a chance! The lessons learned, including responsibility, community spirit, the work ethic and a great quest for knowledge are things that cannot be bought. I wish that my grandchildren will also have great experiences and learn lessons like I had on the "Rez". Someday they may say "perhaps I'm getting old" and tell how it was in their "happy days" as a kid.
Luis Robert Lee
*This is the proper spelling of the river and the reservation
Sign of the times?!