Looking Back: Franklin County’s history June 10th

Franklin County’s history

Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on June 10th.

25 Years Ago

June 10, 1996 – Monday

“78-year-old high school graduate:  ‘no use in sitting back’  “

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Franklin County's history June 10th
Proud grad James Pryor, left, shows his diploma to his son, Jim.

Waynesboro – In 1934, when a typical 16-year-old was going to high school, James Pryor worked outside in the hot Maryland sunshine chopping down stalks and shucking corn.

“I had to do that in order to bring money in for our survival. And I missed a lot of time,” said the 78-year-old Waynesboro man, rocking in his green recliner.  “And you know if you miss a lot of time in algebra, you just don’t catch up.”

He dropped out of school. He had to.  It was the Depression.  His father died in 1919 in a flu epidemic.  His mother died in 1930 from a cerebral hemorrhage.  That left him and his three sisters.  They had to eat.

Now, 62 years later, after passing the General Educational Development examination, Pryor has received his high school diploma.  His son, Jim, came from Atlanta to witness the graduation Saturday at Waynesboro Middle School.

“I’m pleased as punch,” said Jim, 52, who has two degrees from Penn State University. “I was very excited about it. He can do it! When you set your mind to it you can do anything, and that’s the kind of person he is.”

Pryor kept his mind sharp through the years by reading Mark Twain and Civil War books every night before bed.  He didn’t care for television sitcoms that played recorded laughs to the jokes as if “you’re too dumb to know when to laugh,” Pryor said.  He preferred National Geographic programs, and Wild Kingdom. “

For a living, he repaired pipe organs, and maintained World War II aircraft.  He also learned the wood pattern trade.  The grandfather clock and coffee table in his home of 48 years stand as two examples of his precision and talent.  

He built oak plant stands as gifts for his two GED teachers, “instead of giving them an apple,” he said.

He raised three children with his wife, Betty, and now has five grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren.  But a family and the things he could do with his hands just weren’t enough to satisfy him. “No matter how old you are, you can always gain more knowledge. No use in sitting back,” said Pryor, shaking his head.

One day last fall, he saw an advertisement for GED classes in Waynesboro Area School District. Pryor dialed the number, confessed he was 78, and asked the person on the other end if there were any objections to him taking the classes.

“Heck no!” said the voice.  “We’ve had some that were 80.”

William Witherow, GED program director for the Waynesboro Adult Learning Center, said Pryor is the oldest student in recent years.  An 81-year-old attended classes several years ago.

“It kind of dispels that myth that you’re too old,” Witherow said of Pryor.  “Although he’s up in years there, he’s a very young-thinking person.  He just had a very good, positive attitude.”

Pryor has gone to class twice a week since March.  He studied in the evenings, one night on algebra and geometry, another night on social studies and art.  For his GED examination he wrote an essay on collecting farm antiques.

Timed tests frustrated him.  Some of the younger students could think quicker, he said.  But the challenge didn’t stop him.  “I like to set an example for younger people to realize how important an education is,” Pryor said.

Years back, he struggled to convince his son to attend college. Once the younger Jim worked a year, he realized how difficult it was to make a good living without higher education and he enrolled at Penn State.  Now Pryor’s grandchildren are graduating from college.

“They should never have to revert back to what I had to endure,” Pryor said.

50 Years Ago

June 10, 1971 – Friday

Council Hears New Request”

Waynesboro Quincy Township supervisors asked borough council of Waynesboro if they could purchase water from Waynesboro Wednesday night. Council took no action during the special session called for discussion of the request.

Borough Manager Richard Miller reported that the proposed water line from Waynesboro to the township line would cost approximately $86,000.  The water system would serve 300 township residents along Pennsylvania 997.

Roy Angle, the township’s solicitor, said cost of the water system would be financed by government grants and a bond issue.

Miller said that a new reservoir would be needed by the year 2000 according to a study of Waynesboro’s water needs. Angle pointed out that the township might share part of the cost of a new reservoir.

Whether or not residents will be required to hook up to the proposed line has not been decided.  Angle said that this would depend on how many hooked up voluntarily.  Those people hooked up to the system would pay a large tapping fee,” Angle said.

100 Years Ago

June 10, 1921- Friday

Strand Will Install Pipe Organ Early Next Week


Chambersburg – A 6,000 pipe organ will be installed in the Strand Theater the early part of next week by Manager H. R, Weber. The organ is a two-manual one of the New Era type.  It will be located In the north-east section of the theater, necessary remodeling of the floor being under way now. Charles Williams of Pottsvllle, pianist at the Strand, will be the organist.

Manager Weber also has Installed the Sirocco ventilation system. A large fan near the stage draws impure air, continually, and pushes It out at a rear exit.  By this method a current of fresh air is kept circulating through the auditorium.


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