The photo that inspired Don Pierce to recreate the Fern Creek High School familiar to graduates in the 50's and 60's. It must have been a winter day, because the trees are bare.
On delivery day, January 9, 2006, a relieved and proud Don Pierce points to a memory. Accepting the model are, left to right, Ted Boehm, then-Alumni Association Executive Director, Evelyn Vaughn, Chairperson of the Alumni Association and Tito Castillo, then-Principal of Fern Creek Traditional High School.
Accepting Pierce's model of Fern Creek Traditional High School as it is today are, left, Brian Miller, Alumni Association Executive Director and, right, Dr. Houston Barber, Principal. One must assume Dr. Barber has an extra elevator key in his pocket. Miller is a Fern Creek graduate.
Lifelong Creeker Don Pierce Recreates FCHS On His Patio
Intro by Ross Simpson
Have you noticed how much we've changed over 50 years? Our alma mater has also changed, but thanks to a guy who flew over Fern Creek in 1955, the past has been preserved. When we were in junior high, this mystery pilot took an aerial photo of the school complex that led to an interesting project for one of our classmates. On viewing this bit of history, Don Pierce, a member of the Class of 1960 was inspired to undertake the Herculean task of creating a scale model of Fern Creek High School, before it morphed into Fern Creek Traditional High School with its new football stadium and track complex. Pierce, who eventually built two scale models of the school, explains here what he did and why. Pierce: "The models of the school were made for two primary reasons. The first was to prove to myself that I could do it and the second reason was to give graduates of Fern Creek the opportunity to see the school as it was at the time of their graduation. The idea for the first model came from the photo of the school in one of the Alumni Directories. Upon taking on the task of building the model, I had to take many photos of the school and also get a set of plans of the portables as they were when we were there."
Pierce: "The second model was made at the request of Dr. Houston Barber, the current principal of Fern Creek Traditional High School. He wanted a model of the school as it is today. I cut a deal with him. I would build the model if he would give me my own key to the school elevator. His response, to borrow a popular phrase of today, 'It's a DONE DEAL.'"
Editor's Note: It takes perseverance and a lot of talent to do what Don Pierce did. You can give Don kudos by emailing him at AF157@aol.com. He'll enjoy hearing from you.
Pierce: "The model was built on my patio. It was a tight squeeze because the model is 4-feet by 8-feet. Thank goodness I didn't build it in my basement. I would have never been able to get it out. It took 6-8 months to build the model; and, I must admit that there were times when I almost gave up on the project, especially when things were just not working out the way I envisioned them. I kept on going, even with the setbacks, and did get it finished."
Stories and Photos Supplied by '60 Classmates
ON THIS PAGE
Click an entry to go to:
Observation from Mike Hilsenrad:
“The web site is fine as far as it goes, which is not far. What's missing, under the light and cheery anecdotes, current interests, etc. is what we all faced when we walked down (the) high school steps into our own lives in the world. Each one of us, in one way or another, had to deal with what happened in those 50 years. Working and raising families is real, a necessary haven. “However they are ‘in the middle’ between personal individual choice, made as they were, and the ocean of events around us, some wonderful, most full of danger and fear. “1960-2010 wasn't about skipping stones in a creek or catching bluegill, or child's play.” Mike could always make my mind churn and this message did the job. Nevertheless, the realities of life didn’t start for us that night at Freedom Hall. All of us had difficulties in our lives during high school, some more formidable than others. One classmate has confided that his high school years bordered on miserable, because of the soap opera that unfolded each day in his home, highlighted by his parent’s divorce. Another refuses to attend reunions, because he’d rather not remember how he was picked on and teased for four years. I remember having to curtail some activities my senior year, because my part-time job at Winn-Dixie was too important to my family’s welfare. Not doing these things was disappointment for me, but I’m pretty sure it wasn't visible to my classmates. I didn’t talk about it. Keeping such things private was the style at the time, so we didn’t hear about the feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, financial difficulties, alcoholic or divorced parents or any of the other problems today so commonly discussed, but kept hidden then. As we left high school, we left with a storehouse of memories, leaving behind friends and routines of which we were fond, but we took our emotional and family baggage with us, whatever it was. Since then, with each passing year, all of us shaped our lives with choices made and the consequences those choices fostered. Not all our choices were good ones. Some resulted in heartbreak or financial setbacks. Others, though, gave us comfort, happiness or success. Now, after 50 years, through choice after choice, we’re here and we remember it all, good and bad. Mike’s point is well-taken: remembering shouldn’t be all icing and no cake. We should pay homage to our entire lives when we reminisce; but here, on these pages, and at our reunion, let’s do the feel good thing.
I read Mike’s comment, which seemed reasonable to me, and thought your answer was appropriate. I think the submissions so far reflect human nature’s preference to remember the good and forget the bad, which I don’t think is all that bad. Dwelling on the negatives doesn’t make for good mental health, in my opinion.
Jerri Hornbuckle Wells
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near the top of this page. We’ll copy your remarks and post them below this article.)
Skipping Stones and Catching Bluegill
Vol. 50, No. 1 FERN CREEK, KENTUCKY - Location of Friendliest School in the County October 3, 2010
Because Harold “Dickie” Hall worked in the collision industries and property development, he crossed paths with many of our classmates, faculty and staff of Fern Creek High School. Here, he remembers his post-high school friendship with Bill Klapheke. “It’s known to everyone that Mr. Klapheke was always on the hunt for ‘offenders’ and many were caught. He was a hard nose, there’s no doubt about it.” Because Dickie was often in those smoke filled rooms, naturally the assistant principal was often out to catch him. ““Blow smoke in my face.” Mr. K. would say.” But Dickie said that was never his offense; although, if he were charged with drinking a beer with Walter Larmee in the car during lunch, that would have been true. Then there were those frog legs he distributed in the hall. He even offered one to Mr. K. Dickie admits to being in the middle of many shenanigans. After our graduation ceremony, Dickie went directly to Mr. Klapheke and told him he had smoked only half of a cigarette in his life, that being at the foot of the school steps his freshman year, when a friend handed one to him. It was tossed, not even half way through. Dickie said he didn’t even know how to hold it. Dickie is proud he’s never smoked, despite time spent in those smoke-filled boy’s restrooms. Several years later, Klapheke came to Dickie’s shop, to get collision damage repaired. Eddie Jones (another ’60 alum) was Louisville police chief at the time. Klapheke admitted surprise at the lives Dickie and Eddie had created for themselves. He said, jokingly, “I thought you two would be in prison today.” Of course, he was quite pleased we weren’t. He went on to say that the kids of today have worse offenses than we ever did. We were usually tracked down for cutting school, which is about as serious as it got. This was the first of many visits were between them. They became friends through the years and the kindness of this strong man became evident. When Klapheke was dying of cancer, his former wife told Dickie, who promptly went to visit. “Bill Klapheke cried on my shoulder and apologized for his toughness.” His simple, understated obituary was at his own request.
As told to Janice Deeb Gritton
Harold "Dickie" Hall has memories of
Bill Klapheke that might surprise you.