Sepia Saturday 443: Second in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.
When I was a grade schooler, I didn’t think about my teachers having an outside life — or any life at all apart from our classroom, where they lived up front by the blackboard.
Whether my teachers had parents or siblings or were once young themselves were questions that never entered my head.
So it was not until this month — while visiting my hometown for a 50th high school reunion — that I learned about my fourth grade teacher Helen George’s family.
Miss George’s father Thomas George (1882-1954), mother Anna O’Dea George (1888-1955) and younger bother Thomas M. George (1920-1997) are buried beside her in Vestal Hills Memorial Park, Vestal, N.Y., as discussed in the last post,
Miss George’s family history
Finding her family led me to wonder about her younger years — before she began teaching — and what her childhood may have been like. Where did she live? What did her parents do? What records might help me discover some of her family history?
Turning to U.S. Census records, I easily located her family living in Binghamton, N.Y., in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 federal population censuses as summarized in the table below.
|Helen George and family in the U.S. Census (1920-1940) Binghamton, Broome, N.Y. – Source: Family Search1|
|1920 2||44 Dennison St. (Rent)||37, Head, Trainman||31, Wife, born in PA||2.5 yrs., Dau., born in NY||—|
|1930 3||22 Ogden St. (Own)||48, Head, Steam RR Conductor||42, Wife||12, Dau.||9, Son|
|1940 4||22 Ogden St. (Own)||57, Head, Steam RR Conductor||52, Wife, Housework||22, Dau., Attended School/College||19, Son, Attended School/College|
The census entries show that Miss George’s father worked on the steam railroad — as opposed to the local electric railroad and streetcars that also operated in Binghamton, N.Y. at the time.
Her dad was a railroad man
Researching Thomas George’s occupation, I discovered the fascinating railroad map below, which shows the various lines — including steam train lines — traversing the Triple Cities, as the area was known when I lived there.
Miss George and her family lived just south of the Fair Grounds and Ball Park, which is grayed out on this map.My childhood overlapped the last years of these passenger railroads — one of which ran right behind Hooper School where I had Miss George for fourth grade in 1960.
I remember summers as a youngster taking the Delaware and Hudson railroad north from Binghamton, with my younger brother Mark, to visit our grandparents near Albany, N.Y. — a train line that appears on the above map.
What a surprise to learn that Miss George’s dad was a railroad conductor who worked on a steam train line — maybe even the same railroad I later traveled on as a child!
Please stop back as this series continues. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.