Tuesday, September 18, 2012

School Boy Billy

Uncle Billy at Greer School, early 1940's

     My maternal grandmother Eleanor had three younger brothers.  MaMa lived with her grandmother in Brooklyn, NY.  I ordered her school records from the diocese.  Her brothers Daniel and Samuel lived with their father in Poughkeepsie, NY.  I was unable to get their school records.
     MaMa's youngest brother, William was sent to the Greer School.  I thought that this school was located in Millbrook, NY but found out that it was actually in Union Vale with a Millbrook mailing address.  I had called the Millbrook town hall and was advised of Union Vale so I then called the town hall in Union Vale.  The woman I spoke to told me that the school records would be at The Fountains, a senior community which is now on the grounds of the Greer School.  The Greer School was not just a school building.  It was a residential school with cottages, a chapel, a farm, etc.  It was a community for children and now it is a community for seniors with some of the original buildings still there.  I drove through the community a few years ago with my mother.  It was an unplanned drive that day so I didn't have my camera with me to take a picture of the chapel.  I called The Fountains at Millbrook to inquire about Uncle Billy's school records.  The woman who answered the phone was fairly new and just as puzzled as I was as to why the school records would be at the senior community.  She took my name and telephone number and promised to call back.  I already have a typed sheet with grades for William Davis that I found among my great-grandmother's papers.  His date of birth is incorrect on that paper.  Uncle Billy was a 13 year old boy living at the Greer School in 1940 according to the U.S. Federal Census.  I don't know how old he was when he was admitted but I'm sure he was there until he graduated.  A few years ago I was contacted by a man who went to school with Uncle Billy.  I had written a letter addressing the alumni and asking if anyone remembered my uncle.  I sent this letter along with a photo of Uncle Billy in his navy uniform to the alumni newsletter.  The man who wrote to me said that he remembered Bill to be a very friendly and likable fellow.  He didn't keep in touch with my uncle but thinks he moved to Delaware after graduation and worked for a car dealership.  Uncle Billy's friend also sent me a photo of a young Bill Davis in school.
     The woman who works at the Fountains called me back to advise that all the school records were destroyed.  What?  Why would they destroy the records of this school instead of donating them to the local historical or genealogical society?
     I find it interesting that Uncle Billy went to work for a car dealership in Delaware after his high school graduation and his father was an auto mechanic in Poughkeepsie, NY.
     Uncle Billy joined the navy and served three years.  He returned and attended college on the G.I. Bill. He graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and got a job with the Chrysler Corporation.  He retired from Chrysler after many years of employment.
     William Howard Davis did not have a happy, loving childhood.  He was sent away to school, away from his family at a young age.
     Uncle Billy made the most of the education he was given and created a better life for himself.

 >>pics of the school  http://greerschool.org/paplaces.html

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