Days of Yore
.
as recounted by

Bill Day

 


Helen Bryson
In a gathering of Haddonfield Adults, if someone mentioned that he had recently met and talked to Miss Helen Bryson, there probably would be no immediate reaction, but if the person met were identified as "Miss Bryson," spontaneous questions would erupt from some in the group.

For Miss Bryson had been as integral part of their elementary school years in Haddonfield during the thirty-nine years that she was active in the Public School system in our town.  Miss Bryson is well and happy in the Presbyterian Homes of New Jersey, at 132 Warwick road here in Haddonfield. (1977)

Miss Bryson began her teaching career in a boys school in Lakewood, NJ.  For one year she taught in the morning, and tutored in the afternoon at the hotels that were patronized by wealthy New York families in the winter.

In West Collingswood, she taught fifth grade for a year, and then the next 39 years she was with the Haddonfield Public Schools.  She retired in 1952.  Starting in 1913, Miss Bryson taught fifth grade for seven years, and then her classes became English and penmanship in the seventh and eighth grades in 1920.  As the classes increased in size, she became solely the eighth grade English teacher and eventually became the principal of the Junior School.  During all this time she was attending summer schools at Columbia, Temple, and in 1933 she graduated from Rutgers.

In an economy move, the Board of Education named her principal of the Central School as well as the Junior School in 1933.  Miss Bryson remained in this position until here retirement.  At her PTA testimonial dinner on May 9, 1952 a scholarship fund was established in her name, and in the press coverage of the dinner she was entitled "Queen Helen of Haddonfield," and the article stated that she had "opened the doors of opportunity to thousands of youth in the community."

Miss Bryson, with her sister, traveled the world over after her retirement.  She spent winter in Florida, but her summer home has always been Haddonfield.

She is one of the four oldest members of the Presbyterian Church and has been a member for 69 years.

Helen was three years old when her parents, Mr and Mrs Harry H. Bryson, moved into Haddonfield from Philadelphia in 1893.  She attended the elementary school in the red brick building on Lincoln avenue and she was graduated from the Haddonfield High School.  In that senior class of 1909 there were seven girls and seven boys.  Three of the girls and one boy are still with us.

Remembered by Miss Bryson are Edith Clement, who married Paul Kind, Marian Furness, who married a classmate, Ed Walker; Ethel Hurf, Erma Humburg, Payton Dewey, Alexander Loose, Lawrence Moody, Paul Sweigert, Edward Walker, and two brothers, Ralph and Fred Pressey.

Miss Bryson attended Trenton Normal School and graduated in two years.  Then here teaching career was launched.

Seventeen happy childhood years were lived by Helen in the fine, large house with the beautiful white marble steps, at 274 east Kings highway that was eventually demolished to make way for the Kingsway Apartments at the corner of Potter street and east Kings highway.  The spacious lawn was the scene of church festivals and many garden parties.  Helen recalls that the corner was popularly known as "The Bryson's Corner," and how the trolley switched tracks there for their return to Camden.  The eight Bryson offspring (only Helen and her sister, Elizabeth Fearn remain), on cold winter days took hot coffee and soup out to the motormen and conductors while the cars were laying over there.

The house at 240 Chestnut street became Miss Bryson's home for 41 years after Bryson's Corner.  The flowing fountain now standing at the point in front of the library, originally was on the lawn of the Chestnut street property and it was donated to the town.  First it was placed at the point of Ellis street and Potter street before it went to its present location on Haddon avenue.

Now, in adult years is one not filled with nostalgia to learn about Miss Bryson, who in one's elementary school years of life she was just another school teacher?

Thank you, Helen, for your cooperation for without it much of this column would not have been possible.


DayHikes.info Homepage
Contact Alan Day
Days of Yore Homepage