Make your own free website on


Gail Edwards Baker's Newsletter
August 11, 2010


Ok we're going to try a third newsletter in less than a year. I'm on a roll. After sending out the article on Cradock High School being torn down to make room for a housing development and my idea to turn it into a senior living facility that we all could move into brought some interesting responses. Everything from it's time to make room for progress to sincere regret to see the old school go. Here are a few of the replies:

Irene Jordan (63) said "I agree wholeheartedly, I still live close to the high school I loved and am saddened every time I ride by, always hoping for something to replace our school, that will exhibit the pride that we had in that school. My son graduated the last year that it was still in service and that was sad enough."

Dee Cassidy (60) sent the article on the Afton Theatre being torn down also with a note "Cradock has really been in the news this week. This article (on the Afton's demise) was in Wednesday's paper. Sad to see what is happening in the area."

Martha Rea Butler (62) said "Hey, I think the senior's thing would be great. They turned the old Shea Terrace school on Constitution into a senior's apartment building years ago. I think high end condos in the school would be great. Just think we could finally have sex in school (if anyone still could)."
Martha Rea is dreaming again.

Linda Fisher (63) replied "I am with you Gail. Just what we need another housing project. I would rather see the assisted living center or another school or community center."

Ken Dice (60) says "Hey ....let's all put down a down payment and see how fast we can fill up the place."

Richard Leary (55) writes "Thanks for the newsletters and for the information about the plans to demolish Cradock High School and build expensive homes. It is nice to know that folks who would purchase $200,000 to $250,000 homes apparently can still afford to and can get loans. Peons in lower brackets are losing their homes. Perhaps if there are so many expensive homes nearby, the City of Portsmouth will pay more attention to Cradock. As it is now the City not only does not enforce Historic District regulations, they don't even enforce city building codes. Perhaps either the crime will move across George Washington Highway to better pickin's and the police will step up patrols. Sad to see the old school go but I guess it was just a matter of time. Eventually the politicians, developers and slum lords will leave us all with only memories...."

And Gary Keesecker (53) reminded me they torn down the original Cradock High "Aah Gail, now you know how we felt when they tore down "our" CHS. Of course they did replace it with another school. Such is life, I guess. If, and that's a big IF, the proposed housing will be in the $200-250K price range, that might be a good thing for the area. There is so much Section 8 housing in the old Cradock community it has ushered in the drug and gang problems that have plagued the area for some time. Incidentally, I wonder whatever happened to the city's "grand plan" for Afton Square."

Probably presenting both sides of the situation best was Jeanne Knutson (57) "Please understand that I am a supporter of Franciscus Homes Building....When Frank Spadea and Mr. Kupfer were in control, their buildings were built with integrity....and care of structural detail. I cannot speak for the builders now because I do not know. But, think of the area that will be covered by this development. Come to Creekside at Riverpointe off West Norfolk Road. Our association is terrific and our fees are $132.00 month which we think is very reasonable (it cannot be done on $50.00 per month) - but many of our community are workers on the lawns and common areas - we could not afford to pay the maintenance if we left it to the $132.00 per month and look as nice as we do.Go over to the development that is the old Academy is so crowded. I am not against development - I do think the Gym could be saved for a Recreation Facility that is greatly needed in this area. As far as I know, the Armory is the only facility in the City - and it is greatly restricted to after 7 pm at night because of day care or something of that sort. Our recreational facilities in the city are in short supply. With the expansion of Simonsdale Elementary School (much needed) the baseball and soccer fields of Olive Branch are moved and bunched up as far as scheduling is concerned to another location - we are in short supply of land. Think also of the additional load on our school system and transportation. The streets in the new development will be 30 feet wide - the parking at the residences will be limited to two cars maybe - suppose you have a party....there is never enough space at Creekside because parking on the street is prohibited (rightly so with a 30' wide street) This is just a development that is far too overcrowded. I would not care who the developer was... It is just overcrowded for the space. A pool is nice, but costs money to operate - just cannot maintain a development on $50.00 per month per household even if there is a quadrazillion houses in that development. How many buyers are going to want to spend their Saturdays and nights doing yard work to keep everything looking nice (plus their monthly fee - whatever it is) I cannot vote either - I just want those who can to think of the above notes of interest - hopefully they are a help."

Eddie Seager (60) says" Thanks for your email with the information on Cradock HS and the tentative plans for its demolition and redevelopment of the area.

Janice (Reavis (61) still has two aunts and some cousins in Tidewater who we visit several times a year. She also still has her Mother's house in Highland Park where we stay when we're down there. We were last there in early June and I visited the CHS building one day. I was saddened to see the state into which it has fallen. Portsmouth maintains some recreation facilities where the gym and locker rooms were, but the remainder of the building is closed and, unfortunately, decorated with broken and boarded up windows, etc. It has clearly become a derelict and I was told that homeless people are often found living in it. I was also told that it was slated for demolition, but had no details. I, like many others, was disappointed when it was closed in the early 90s. The building was still in very good shape and I suppose that is why it was kept for use as an educational extension facility. I'm sure we all recall how demanding and meticulous Mr. Booker was about the appearance of the building and our care for it which is why it remained in such good condition. It is really sad to see the way it has been allowed to deteriorate since then. Given its current condition I suppose it's inevitable that it be torn down. I hate to see that, but I hate seeing it in its current condition even more."

Finally Marcie Shaffer (57) wrote "Thanks for keeping us Cradock "ex pats" here on the west coast up to date and well informed. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Even though I live out here in California, I am still very much connected to our beloved Cradock High and all the wonderful friends with whom I have stayed in touch.
Cradock High being torn down? Say it ain't so! We, the class of 1957, were the first Sophomore class in the new school and I remember walking up the steps the first day and being so proud of our new building. Mr. Hogan, at the first assembly, gave the famous "up the down stairway" speech still engrained in my mind: ("You are to go up the up stairway and down the down stairway. Do not go down the up stairway or down the up stairway.") Wish I was there to parade with a placard to "Save Cradock High School"!!!!!

But out of the this came something really good. After I told Fred Zerkle (53) that Marcie Shaffer was on the West Coast, they emailed a little and he wrote today that it is indeed a small world "After you told me that Marcella (Marcie), Class of 57', was living in California, I sent her an email to find out more about her... come to find out she lives in Murrieta, about 40 miles west of San Jacinto, where I live!! Our grandson Erik, and his family live about 5 miles from them in Temecula. Anyway, we've emailed several times, and I've suggested we get together for lunch sometime. One thing about the Classes of Cradock High School, we all seemed to have contributed greatly to this world we live in, and I suppose that's the way it should have been!!!" I aim to please.

Hadn't heard from Monroe Duncan (58) for a bit and so I asked where was he stirring up trouble lately and he answered "I'm in Smithfield at the Smithfield Inn up on the Pagan River as GM. Try to stay out of the kitchen. Good job, owned by Smithfield Foods. I am as well as 70 years permits. Hope all is well with you." You can't keep Monroe out of a kitchen. It would not be fair to the world or our taste buds.

Last newsletter I sent pictures of Bill Davenport (62) and his Harley and asked for pictures of others. Attached are pictures of Janice Hughes (62) and Freddie Bowen (62). So a few of you "mind me".

I continue to bug Don Caffee (59) for the birthday pound cake recipe from Caffee's Bakery and he furnished this: As for the pound cake recipe, I'd really have a hard time cutting it back and providing directions. The copies I have are handwritten and generally list only the ingredients. They all understood how they were to be mixed and the temperature for the oven. By the way, the oven was large enough for my cousin to get inside and walk around to fix it when it wasn't working correctly. Back to the recipe, I may have told you earlier but the little known secret is that in the later years of the bakery's life they switched to using 100-pound bags of cake mix. That's a bit of news I didn't learn until a couple of years after they made the change. Dad passed away in 1955. His brother, the best baker according to Dad, passed away a few years later, then my cousin passed away a few years after that. All the expertise was gone and my cousin's wife ran the bakery for several more years. Somewhere during my cousin's control they switched to the cake mix. I'll just pass along the recipe my wife uses which comes pretty close to what I remember as Caffee's pound cake. You might try it, using real butter instead of margarine." So then I wrote back and asked what about the icing and he said " (which has never been duplicated in my opinion) and he said "As for the icing, it came from a 50-pound can. I'll send you a picture of my cousin in one of the ads for the company. I'm off to lunch with an old friend (heck, ALL my friends are old!) who retired from Coty in the 90's. He recently returned from a 22K driving vacation that began in September of last year and he just returned May 1 - driving alone at 77!" Don also sent me the recipe for a chocolate pie that was one of the original recipes at Caffee's supplied from his grandmother's file. If you're interested email me and I'll send it to you. Plus if you want the recipe for his wife's pound cake let me know and I'll email that also.

Ronnie Seidman (61) says my newsletters are getting better with age and threw in "As we approach another 4th of July, I look forward to all of the tourist and property owners who have started crowding our beaches, and spending money $$$$$. I have no clue as to what this place will look like in the summer if the beaches are soaked in oil, and there was no one on the beach except clean up crews. During World War II the residents of the Outer Banks kept a can of kerosene by the back door, so they could wash the oil off of there feet, as the German Submarines sunk oil tanker after oil tanker off of the coast. So the OBX has been there before! I feel sorry for all of those people who work and live near and on the Gulf. On a brighter note, I was amazed at how many people from Cradock live in North Carolina and on the Outer Banks. You need to give up all of that Snow and Cold weather and move down here. You could roam up and down the beach in the winter looking for sea glass and shells, and oil yourself up and become a fixture on the beach in the summer. We could even find a business adventure for you to play with!" Also on the brighter side since I received this email from Ronnie hopefully the oil well has been capped and we're on our way to getting things cleaned up.

And in my last newsletter Virginia Burke (62) mentioned that her son-in-law now graduated from seminary was looking for a job on the East Coast and good ole Eileen Beasley (62) immediately sent her email address for Virginia to contact her. Seems her church is looking for an assistant pastor. With fingers crossed all with work out for both families.

Peggy Dean (55) enjoyed the last newsletter and wrote "Gail, even enjoyed seeing my own name in print. Most people that write are 10 to 15 years after me but I still recognize some of the family names. Was glad you mentioned Donnie Rose (63), we were cousins.....what a great guy, don't know anyone who enjoyed life more than he did. Donnie was always looking for a new adventure. Not sure how you find time to keep up with all the news. The class of 1953 kept the Old Admiral going for a number of years but had difficulty passing the "torch", after the last edition in the fall of 2009 it is no longer in print. The class of 1955 will celebrate our 55 Reunion the same weekend as the Back to Cradock in October. We had a great 50th and were fortunate to locate every single person in the class.....not as lucky this time. So many people have relocated or no longer have a published phone number, so we may miss some of them this time around. If anyone needs information they can contact Ralph Hicks, Glenda McRary, or myself. The weather is beautiful today in Chesapeake and I think will stay this way for the 4th of July weekend.....stay out of all that traffic in the D.C. area over the holiday weekend."

I'm not sure I have mentioned before that Leroy Curtis (61) and his wife put out a newsletter each month that relates their missionary experience. Always beautifully written with love and humor. He sends it to me electronically and I'm sure he'd be happy to put you on his mailing list if you'd like to receive it. I was interested to know what John Casteen (61) was doing with his "retired" life and he has spent a great amount of time looking for a town named Casteen so he would always know how to spell it (you know about absent minded professors) and as close as he could come was Castine, ME and he writes "We bought the current house last year. It is one of the best built houses I have ever seen, and by far the oldest. So it is hard to guess how well it will do in a normal, icy winter. And it is on the seafront, albeit the length of Penobscot Bay away from the ocean, and protected by islands across the harbor. We were here off and on last winter, but the winter was so mild that one couldn't tell much about living here all year. Our neighbors go south for at least 2 - 3 months. They tell us that in most winters it is just too cold and windy to stay here all winter. So we have kept our house near Charlottesville. I expect to go back to UVa eventually. Most of my sabbatical work is in the UK and Rome." Way too cold up there for me but Charlottesville gets a lot of snow also.

I emailed one of my old Alexander Park buddies down in Texas Barry Cole (62) to see how he was and he answered "Things are good here in Texas. Mary and I are doing well. Last year I think we had around 34 days where it reached 100 degrees or higher, but so far this year it has not hit 100 yet. Mary became an American citizen last year. (She was born in England). It only took 44 years for her to do it. The main reason she did so was to vote Obama out of office. That man is destroying our country. Glad you got the newsletter going again as I enjoy keeping up with our classmates. I still keep busy doing things with our church. Hope you survive the heat there. Heard on the news last night that it was even 100 in Boston yesterday. If you ever come San Antonio way you have stop by. Keep well my friend. God bless." Now that was between Barry and me (and I had his permission to share) so if you don't agree with Mary don't start sending emails. In Gail's opinion any incentive to become an American Citizen is a good one.

Hadn't heard from Anne Broaddus (61) in ages and didn't realize she was out in the wilderness "Reading your recent emails brings back a few memories. I don't get to Portsmouth anymore so the news is welcomed. My husband, Bob, of almost 48 years and I live in Meridian, Idaho where we are serving the Lord with Norhwest Baptist Missions. We help with a church in Meridian and he pastors in Nyssa, Oregon. We have lived in many of the intermountain western states serving in ministry and camp work. Please change my email address to: Look forward to hearing from more of the Admirals. Are any of you living in our neck of the woods? Gail, thank you for being diligent with all the contact info and news. Warm regards to everyone, Anne" Do we have anyone else living in Idaho?

Earlier in July I checked in with Ann Wentz to see how Doug (62) was doing after his stroke and she furnished the following "Gail, he is doing fine. In your next newsletter make sure to tell everyone to make sure they get to a hospital as quickly as possible after a stroke. The drug they use is only good within a few hours of the onset of a stroke and it reverses the damages of a stroke. Doug had his first "mini-stroke" last year and we found out the aspirin thing and he had had at least 1 more mini stroke and I always started feeding aspirin. I did this time but to no avail and called 911. He is lucky we have a trauma center close by and it was within the time lapse of this drug. It is 91 here, so the deep south is cooler. We are having rain showers every day and it is cooling the place down. Will think about ya'll in the terrible heat." Pay attention to my newsletters - not only to I furnish recipes but I furnish free health advise. This is a one stop shopping newsletter!

I had an anniversary of my birthday in July and Karla Grant (63) was kind enough to remember with a really cute electronic card.

I was so excited after the last newsletter that Ray Cahoon (60) had an email address for Oley Linkous (60) and Oley actually emailed me "I retired from the FAA here in NJ. Sorry I didn't reply sooner but I am lazy. (See some of us never change). I may not be retired for good as I put in to drive a school bus in Sept. but they called and they want me to drive in July & August. Hope the hot weather does not get you down it will only be a little while." Oley didn't say whether he planned on taking the job.

Mary Hall wife of David Hall (62) wrote that David was currently at The Cedars in Charlottesville in their skilled nursing facility. Brain swelling had caused the loss of use of his left arm and leg, but increased dosage of one of his meds has allowed some return of function. He has excellent therapists working with him. Cards or communications directed to David should come to his name c/o Kyle Hall at 1430 Briarcliff Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22903. He will be thrilled to hear from anyone from CHS. Even though he spent his last three high school semesters at Chuckatuck, Cradock has always been his first love.
His friends there were not just classmates, but neighbors as well. His memories of those times have grown sweeter with the years." Please continue to send cards to David.

Harold Hostetler (61) and Brenda Skelton (62) wrote "Brenda and I are busy. In July a week at our Eastern Shore for VBS in the morning and night evangelism with migrant Latino farm workers for a week. Then Brenda's big family reunion (120 people) and our own small reunion, 8 of us for 4-5 days. In September we go to my 1968 Army Ranger class reunion at Fort Benning, GA, and in Oct-Nov I'll make a music missions trip to Israel with Camp Kirkland playing and witnessing in an orchestra to serve all through Israel. I'm playing in the Tidewater Concert Band, officer in the Military Officers Association of America visiting the state legislature and Congress in DC, singing in the Virginia Baptist Men's Chorale, working in Awana, leading the church orchestra, doing lots of other stuff as the Associate Pastor of our church, and cutting grass. Thinks are pretty calm. Oh- having arthroscopic surgery this month for a torn meniscus. All normal- HA"

Janie Norris (60) our webmaster offers that sometimes we cannot get into the Cradock website with  and if so we should use  and you will be able to get into it immediately. The pictures within my newsletter might be easier to view for you on the Cradock website.

Sandra Cunningham (63) wrote "I have a prayer request from our classmate and dear friend Charlie Hoffler (63). He was recently diagnosed with cancer of the spine and is undergoing treatments from Duke. He is home in Roanoke and goes to Duke again in a couple of weeks. Charlie has requested our prayers for his healing. We know God hears and answers the prayers of His faithful servants and so we ask you to pray daily for Charlie. We have such a great class and no matter what we know we can count on each other. Charlie would like to hear from you if you would like to email him at A note from Linda Martin Quinn (61): "Nice to hear from you. Its hot as Blue Blazes (whatever blue blazes is) here too but at least we have a HOT breeze. Bob and I are good: sold our home in The Keys and bought a condo in P Town. Going back to our roots - not selling Nags Head still a NC resident. Who would have ever thought we would buy in Portsmouth but so far we love it: walking to great restaurants, catching the ferry to Norfolk and hanging out with friends so close by. If we don't like it after a while we will sell and move on."

After sending out the obituary for Charles Shires (58) this week Don Taylor (59) wrote "I went to the visitation for Charles Shires on Sunday evening. Charles and Judy were neighbors of my mother before she passed away July 1992. My younger brother Steve lived in the house for several years. I've known Charles and Judy for probably 25 years. Charles was a hard worker and fought death until the very end. He had many friends."

If the Eagles and Rolling Stones can have a reunion tour why not the Bakers? We just returned this week from ours and the next correspondence will catch you up on some news and include pictures of a few of the classmates we visited.

Sorry this is so rambling but I started it out a couple of weeks ago.....I know I always promise to do better and then I lie...........

Still blazing hot in DC but better than 3+ feet of snow. Have a good week. Reach out and touch someone you've been thinking about.



Return to Top of Page
Return to Newsletter Index
Return to CHS Home Page