Throwback: As Time Goes By

The Cover of the first issue of Upper St. Clair TODAY, September 1994

Throwback with TODAY

As Time Goes By

September 1994 (First Edition) page 18

T. Dell Lesnett was born in Upper St. Clair in 1919 and has lived in Upper St. Clair his entire life. Mr. Lesnett and his wife, Vivian Lesnett, are the parents of three sons. Mr. Lesnett is interested in gardening, bird dog training, hunting and golf. He also volunteers for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to build, install and maintain over 100 blue bird houses. Dell Lesnett talked about growing up in Upper St. Clair at the June 8th, 1994 meeting of the United Citizens of Upper St. Clair. Some of his recollections follow.

I was born on our farm on Lesnett Road in 1919 and have lived there ever since. My present home is on three acres of the original farm. On the east side of the farm, there was a one-room school house that accommodated eight grades.

My mother graduated from Slippery Rock State Teachers College with my Aunt Sarah. She obtained a job at the Lesnett School and lived at my granddad's place. If my memory serves me right, she paid my grandmother 75 cents a day for room and board. I don't know all of the details, but my parents supposedly met and fell in love when my mother was teaching at the Lesnett School and my dad was working the corn field that was around the school house. They married a year after they met and were blessed with four sons and a daughter.

We lived in a big eight room farm house with no central heating but a fire place in each room that was never used. Eventually, we got a pot belly stove for the dining room which heated that room in the winter, and the wood cook stove took care of the kitchen. The rest of the house was unheated. We slept under feather ticks and blankets in long underwear with two or three to a bed, depending on the temperature. In the mornings in winter, we dove out of bed and went to the dining room where Mom always had the old pot belly fired up. We had no telephone or electricity so we did our reading and studying by kerosene lamps.

Being farmers, we always had enough to eat. We raised and butchered our own beef and hogs and had our wheat and corn ground at the mill for flour and corn meal. Mush and milk was the fare for supper on Sunday evening.

During warm weather we kept the milk, butter and other items in a spring house that was 250 yards from the house. Dad ate everything left on the table after a meal, so we never had to go back down to the spring house to cool anything that was left over!

The fruits and vegetables we raised were hauled to the farmers' market in Pittsburgh on the Monongahela Wharf at the end of Wood Street. The market was open three night a week - so we picked fruits and vegetables all day to get a truck load. What wasn't sold was brought home for the hogs.

The pond below the spring house was loaded with cat fish because the Nickels Bakery driver threw all his stale bread in the pond. Any time we wanted fish, we could get a bucket full in five minutes.

The day we got our first Model T Ford truck, I had the mumps and was quarantined to an upstairs bedroom. I'll never forget the lonesome feeling from being left out of the family excitement.

When I was a kid, Lesnett Road went from Bridgeville past our house to the house with the round barn that my Great Uncle Billy built and lived in. (It's now Tustin Place - Tiffany Acres.) Beyond that was just a trail where i remember the mailman rode a big sorrel horse and took the mail to Clifton. During the depression, Lesnett Road was moved and rebuilt by the WPA and opened to McLaughlin Run Road.

Two Ward-LeFrance school buses served Clifton School. They were owned by Lawrence (Skip) Walters and were driven by Skip Walters and Shorty Reed. We had to walk about a mile to get the bus at Godwin's Greenhouse. At that time, there were lots of pheasants, quail, rabbits and squirrels in the area. School was closed the first day of small game season every year! Every evening on the way home, Skip Walters would tell us how much game he got hunting that day. The boys all knew that Skip Walters was special, and we loved to hear our bus driver's stories about hunting.

When I started school, there were three schools in the Township - Beadling, Cook and Clifton. The thing I remember about Beadling and Cook Schools was that they always beat us in our annual soccer games. I think the athletic budget for the Township at that time was two soccer balls a year for each school. We furnished our own softball and baseball equipment and anything else that we needed to play with.

Clifton School had four classrooms upstairs with the principal's office in the center. Grades 1 & 2 were taught by Sara Lesnett, Grades 3 & 4 were taught by Miss Hemninger, Grades 5 & 6 were taught by Miss Cowan, and Grades 7 & 8 were taught by Charlotte Wright. A.J. Kelly was the principal - a rough and tough administrator. He did all the legitimate paddling and he knew how to make a kid remember! Every school day started on the ground floor assembly room. Miss Lesnett led the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Miss Wright or Miss Hemninger played the piano and we sang gospel music, hymns and the National Anthem. We then repeated the Lord's Prayer and, in close order drill, were marched to our class rooks upstairs. After graduation from Clifton, the students on the west side of the Township were sent to Bridgeville High School and the remainder went to Mt. Lebanon.

Thanks to Mr. Lesnett for sharing his memories of growing up in Upper St. Clair. UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY magazine would love to hear your stories about Upper St. Clair. You are encouraged to send in your recollections and anecdotes.

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