PEBLY & 13th STREET SCHOOLS
by Ann Angel Eberhardt
Harry E. Pebly Elementary School
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The Harry E. Pebly Elementary School was named after the then superintendent of the Sharpsville Joint School System. Harry Eugene Pebly, Sr. (1894-1967), had studied at Thiel College, Michigan State College, and University of Pittsburgh, where he received a Master’s in Education. After serving the school system for 36 years as coach, teacher, principal, and superintendent, he retired in 1956. (Pages 16-17 in the 1957 Devil’s Log Sharpsville High School yearbook features his photograph and an article expressing a fond farewell and appreciation.)
After my brother Pat Angel’s first year at Deeter, he recalls this about his years at Pebly School:
I remember the faces and many of the names of the teachers, most notably Mrs. Kilburn, my third-grade teacher (Pebly, 1957-58). She was the teacher who cast me as the ‘ugly duckling’ in the school play which I considered then and now a great honor. As a very shy child, it boosted my self-confidence to play the lead role in that little school play. I like to think that Mrs. Kilburn had that in mind when she chose me. Her husband was a plumber and he had a shop near where the only red light was in town.
My best friend all through elementary school, Mickey A_____…was from the only African American family in Sharpsville. He lived in the “projects” and had 2 sisters, Shirley and Martha. They were Seventh Day Adventists and my friend’s mother often gave him and me Bible lessons when I would go over and play at his house. I remember playing Monopoly with him and his dad.
Mickey would show up each school morning at my door to walk with me up the Second Street hill to Pebly. In the fifth grade, we become ‘blood brothers’ by cutting the palms of our hands with a knife and then pressing the cuts together, mixing our blood. I’m sure we were influenced by the TV series (1954-55) on Davy Crockett (‘King of the Wild Frontier’) on Walt Disney’s ‘Disneyland’. I remember that we both pledged to be true and loyal friends forever.
I think Mickey and his family moved from Sharpsville after elementary school. I went back to the projects in the 1970s and made inquiries about Mickey’s whereabouts. Some folks remembered the family as being the first black family in the projects but didn’t know where they had moved to. I wish I could find him and reminisce about our childhood and to tell him how much his friendship meant to me.
A news report from The Record-Argus, Greenville, PA, newspaper (page 12, February 7, 1956) mentions the school:
A name for a new street leading to the Harry E. Pebly Elementary School is to be selected by council. Council may ask Sharpsville school pupils to select the name.
Patrick doesn’t recall much about this street except that it was “engineered differently than the older streets in Sharpsville and an oak tree planted in someone’s honor (Mr. Pebly?) in the school courtyard. The tree is still there — bigger of course than when it was planted in 1956.”
According to Google Maps street view, the 1950s style building still stands but the Harry E. Pebly Elementary School is indicated as “closed.”
Thirteenth Street School
A booklet commemorating Sharpsville’s Centennial in 1974 records that the Thirteenth Street school buildings were erected as annexes to the Deeter Building.
In 1922 the school board purchased a plan of lots at 13th Street to take care of the pressing school needs of that area. The two wooden structures were moved from the Deeter Building to these lots to provide Grades 1 and 2. The buildings were open to the public in 1922 and served the community until they were closed in 1958.
The property at 13th was later sold on bid. All students from the 13th Street area subsequently attended school at the Seventh Street School.
These elementary schools are no longer around, but our memories live on. The Class History in the 1958 Devil’s Log goes on to say:
[We] survived the beginning stages of adjusting to a brand new life…with the kindness and consideration of our grade school teachers to help us over the rough spots, we soon passed over those carefree, wonderful days of skipping rope, playing marbles, dusting erasers, washing boards, playing kick-the-can, prisoners base, [and] mumblety peg….
— Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958), Goodyear, AZ
— Pat Angel (SHS 1960-1964), London, KY