Remembering the Korean War and a new school

This is the third installment of my 85 years of living in good old Warren:

We left off late last month where I was finishing up in early June of 1950 at East Junior High. During summer vacation of 1950, the Korean War began on June 25. I was nearly 15 years old.

My friend John Strommer and I had just come in from batting a tennis ball around against the Genesee stand pipe next door with my new tennis racket. Sis had presented it to me as a graduation present from East Junior.

Mom had the radio on. What, again? She had that faraway look in her eyes. Kids who were my age at the beginning of World War II were of draft age before it was over. Even though she didn’t say so, I knew she was fearful of a time when my friends and I could wind up fighting in another war as my cousins before me who had fought in World War II. The Korean War wound up taking nearly 37,000 American lives and 92,000 were wounded.

Although none of my friends or relatives got drafted and had to go to war, the home front did experience shortages once again.

Automobiles were manufactured with bright work that had no nickel under the chrome, which resulted in easily corroded bumpers and grilles. Many of my car waxing business customers (I used the Warren Transportation bus garage) would come to me to clean up and clear coat their thinning bright work as well as polishing their cars. I had to get friends to help because of the number customers I had.

Although the Korean War lasted the entire time I was a student at Warren G. Harding Senior High School — it ended right after my graduation in June of 1953 — life was pretty much the same as it was in peacetime.

Warren G. Harding seemed huge after my years at East Junior. Upper class students would try to sell elevator passes to us newbies — but few fell for it. I did get to ride in it when I helped friend Pete Lamison, who had a broken leg.

Football was a very important part of life at Harding. When I first arrived, we were called the Warren Harding Presidents. Since we were forever trying to beat the Massillon Tigers football team, it seemed that the name “Presidents” didn’t have much punch.

So somebody came up with the idea of calling our team the Panthers. We even got a panther suit for one of our students to wear. To top it off, we had a student body contest to name that panther. The name that won was “Jet.” I think the Massillon Tiger was called Obie.

Still, Massillon had that song that we couldn’t match — “Hold That Tiger.” It even had a row of tubas in their Massillon Tiger Swing Band to emulate the Tiger roar. Nobody ever came up with a song like “Hold That Panther.”

Speaking of songs, our alma mater song was called “All Hail to the Red and White” — I think. It went like this:

All hail, all hail, to the red and white.

“Our school beloved for standards high, sing we praises to the sky

“Pledging all in loyalty, Warren High School strong and free

“Oh, guide us with your shining light, and your colors red and white.”

A little tear? Anybody? Sniff.

Harding High now has a new building and the football team has a new name. But that old spirit that I experienced is most likely roaming the halls of that new building — unless a hall monitor stops it.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com.


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