T. Stewart Wood, who had often been called “the Father of Radnor Township Schools”, was one of the principal speakers at the January, 1915 meeting of the Wayne Men’s Club, when reminiscences were the order of the evening among the “Old Settlers”.
Described by Henry P. Conner, then president of the Club, as “the most modest of men”, Mr. Wood said that he was originally chosen as a candidate for School Director because as a matter of fact, “it wasn’t an office much sought after in those days”. And since he was not at the caucus “to protect” himself, the candidacy was thrust upon him. Then came elections with a brisk contest for the office since there were two opposing factions among the voters. On one hand there was an insistent demand for better school facilities in Wayne, while on the other there was strong opposition to such a move since it would involve a large expenditure of money and a subsequent increase in taxes.
Mr. Wood was elected, and the changes which he put into effect form the foundation of our present splendid school system. However, when these changes were made they met with so much opposition on the part of Radnor Township residents outside of Wayne that Mr. Wood said he was probably “the best hated man in the district”. His opponents at the time had a way of saying that he was “taxing the poor to educate the rich”, while the more far-sighted realized that the reverse was true.
At the time Mr. Wood was elected to office there were six schools in Radnor Township, including those in Wayne, Garrett Hill, Paxson Mills, Ithan, Radnor and at Tryon Lewis’. Each was independent of the other. While attendance at Wayne and at Garrett Hill was good, it averaged fifteen or less at the other four schools. This meant that in some schools there were classes with but two or three pupils, although all grades were usually represented. And while Mr. Wood had great respect for “the Little Red School House”, he realized that Radnor Township must keep abreast of the changing trends in education throughout the country.
Many of Mr. Wood’s constituents in Wayne would have been satisfied merely with a new Grammar School. But the school director whomthey had elected to office considered the time ripe to put into effect a broader and more general plan which would include changes in the school of the whole township. This plan when finally consummated provided for instruction of the higher grades in Wayne and in Garrett Hill and of the lower grades in the other four schools. Four years from the final establishment of the system the first graduating class of Radnor High School had its commencement.
Such a system called for the services of an able superintendent to organize classes in all the six schools and to supervise their teaching. Mr. Wood was instrumental in securing the services of George H. Wilson, who for a number of years afterwards held his place as head of the schools in Radnor Township.
Four years before these “Old Settlers” meetings were held by the Men’s Club a short series of articles was written for “The Suburban” under the title of “Wayne in the Olden Times”. Much of this series told of early sports in Wayne which have already been described from time to time in this column.
However, there are several aspects of community life which have not been touched on before. For one thing the writer of “Wayne in the Olden Times” thought it might be interesting to his readers in 1911, when “a telephone has become almost a necessity”, to know that in 1897 there were but 14 telephones in all Wayne. Dr. H. C. Hadley was the manager and the exchange was in his drug store. Pioneer subscribers were C. H. Barrett, G. W. Bergner, C. K. Bolles, I. W. Conner & Co., James Goodwin, R. H. Johnson (residence and office), G. E. Mancill & Bro., Pennsylvania Railroad, J. W. Reavey, Siter and Barrett, Charles S. Walton, Wayne Cycle Club, Dr. George M. Wells and T. T. Worrell & Sons.
Rules for the use of these early telephones sound quaint indeed these 55 years later. Some of the younger readers of our column should perhaps be reminded that in those days and for some years afterwards all telephone instruments were large, clumsy affairs firmly attached to the wall. To the writer of this column they always seemed closer to the ceiling than to the floor. Even by standing on her tip-toes she could scarcely reach the mouthpiece, and why some compromise between the needs of the tall and the very short could not have been made has always remained a mystery.
At any rate there were four important rules which were as follows:
1. After ringing for the exchange, take down earphone and wait for operator to answer.
2. When operator answers, give number you want.
3. WHen through talking be sure to ring off.
4. Never call up before 7 A. M. nor after 11 P. M. unless very urgent.
“In these days of high prices”, says our historian of 1911, “it might be interesting to know that T. T. Worrell & Sons were selling butter for 24 cents a pound in the winter of 1897; hams at ten cents a pound and coffee at 21 cents a pound.”
To us in these days of still higher prices it might be interesting to know what were considered “high prices” in 1911. At that time The Suburban gave front page space to its advertisers. Prominent among these were three grocery and meat stores, now long since out of existence. T. T. Worrell & Sons, Ira V. Hale and Edgar Jones. Among the items they advertised were rib roasts at 14 cents a pound; pork roasts at 16 cents; legs of lamb at 18 cents; pork chops at 16 cents and bacon at 30 cents. Butter sold pretty generally at 36 cents a pound and “fresh country eggs” at 36 cents a dozen.
“Fancy California oranges” sold as low as 25 cents a dozen and as high as 70 cents. And for a “quickly prepared luncheon” Worrell offered cold boiled ham at 40 cents a pound; peanut butter and home made jellies at 10 cents a glass; sardines as low as 15 cents a can; cream cheese at 10 cents a package and lamb tongue at 40 cents a jar. This same store apparently specialized in candy as well as “quickly prepared” luncheon articles. Both assorted chocolates and chocolate covered nougats were 40 cents a pound. Horehound drops bring back nostalgic memories, but what were assorted jelly strings” the sold at 30 cents a pound?
Then, as now, The Suburban had its full quota of advertisements–but none perhaps that marks the passing of the years more sharply than that of Howard S. Kromer, successor to James F. Kromer, Wayne Livery and Boarding Stables. “Special Attention” was given “to the care of horses”; “conveyances” were furnished on short notice”, carriages were stored and “particular attention was given to weddings and funerals”.
And now, where in all Wayne should be begin to look for a horse, a carriage or, indeed, any kind of “conveyance” except a gasoline driven one?