Taylor School Reunion Will Offer Chance to Reminisce
The event, planned for Sunday, is free and open to all that attended the school or lived in the neighborhood.
Though demolished nearly a half-century ago, memories of the former Taylor School are still clear and continue to play a role in the lives of those that attended, says Lafayette College anthropologist Andrea Smith.
“I'm interested in the role place plays in people's imagination,” Smith said. “I'm really interested in how people fix places in their memories.”
While conducting local oral history interviews among members of the ethnic communities displaced by the urban renewal efforts of the 1960s and 70s in Easton, she found one place that continually came up as people recalled their pasts—the Taylor School, located at the corner of South Fourth and Ferry streets.
Closed in 1962 and now the site of the parking lot for the adjacent St. John's Lutheran Church, the school was by all accounts aesthetically magnificent, with marble staircases and crystal chandeliers.
But its architectural grandeur isn't the first thing former students recall about their time at Taylor—it's the character of the time and neighborhood.
“It was different then,” said Sonja Shaheen, a former Taylor pupil and member of the organizing committee for the school reunion planned for this Sunday. “You knew everyone, and everybody knew you...It was mixed, but everyone got along.”
Shaheen said she's looking forward to seeing her old neighbors and friends. Though many still live in the city, others have moved or drifted, and only heard about the last reunion, held in 2008, after the fact.
“A lot of people didn't know about it (last time),” Shaheen said. “It's nice to get together with people we used to know...and reminisce about the school....We talk about the neighborhood and people and just get together.”
Smith said the idea for another reunion, planned by a committee of former students and facilitated by Lafayette College, came from her local history research.
“I ran into a lot of people who wanted to reunite with their grammar school friends,” she said.
The reunion, set for Sunday, Oct. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m., will be held at St. John's Lutheran Church at 320 Ferry St.
All who attended or taught at the Taylor School, or lived in the neighborhood at the time it was in operation, are invited. Based on the attendance at the last event, that will likely be nearly 100 people, organizers have estimated.
“I think it's amazing how many people are still around,” Smith said.
The event is free, and refreshments will be served. Attendees are also encouraged to bring a potluck dish to share.
Smith is also hoping some attendees will bring along some photos of their time at the school. Despite it's elegance, few images of the educational institution that was a neighborhood icon for decades seem to exist, other than an early 20th century postcard image.
“(Images) are seemingly scarce,” she said, adding the only picture she's come across is a class photo from 1906.
“But people don't have to bring anything,” Smith said. “We just want them to come.”