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Throwing Snowballs on the Normal School Campus | by Alan Mays
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Throwing Snowballs on the Normal School Campus

This is a photo mounted on cardboard (see the full version below) with the handwritten caption, "On the Normal Campus."


Written on the back of the photo are the names of these four young women (see below for a close-up view), who were obviously having fun in the snow as they posed with snowballs:


To the left of tree, Catharine Shoup.

To the right, and back, Jennie Moyer, Altoona, Pa.

To the right, Kathryn Kleckner, Mifflinburg, Pa.

In front, Lulu Patton, Warriors' Mark, Pa.


I believe that they were studying to be teachers at one of the "normal schools" in Pennsylvania at the time the photo was taken, which was probably sometime in the late 1890s or early 1900s. A normal school, as Wikipedia explains, is simply "a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers." Today we'd typically call them teachers' colleges rather than normal schools.


Given the women's names, the home locations for three of them, and the distinctive building with a tower or belfry in the background of the photo, I thought it would be an easy matter to determine what school they were attending when this photo was taken. But I haven't yet been able to place them at a specific school.


After searching Find A Grave and other sources, however, I was able to find some information about two of them. Catharine H. Shoup (1883-1977), who's holding a snowball as she stands to the left of the tree in the photo, was a teacher and principal for many years at the Irving School, which I believe was an elementary school in Altoona, Pa.


I also located an obituary for Lulu Rose Patton (1881-1932), who's pretending to fend off snowballs as she sits in front of the tree. The Daily News, Huntingdon, Pa., Thursday, August 4, 1932, p. 12, reported the following: ". . . Miss Lulu R. Patton, a missionary in Canton, China, under the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, died on Tuesday night [August 2; other sources give the date as August 3]. . . . Miss Patton was visiting her brother, the Rev. Charles E. Patton, vice president of the Presbyterian board and located at Shanghai, China, at the time of her death. . . . Miss Patton went to China in 1908 as a missionary, coming home about every five years for a vacation. She was last home three years ago. She was identified with the Union Normal School in Canton."


When I finally found this obituary and realized that Lulu Patton was a teacher at the Union Normal School in Canton, China, I thought surely that the photo must have been taken there. But then I discovered--alas!--that the city of Canton (now called Guangzhou) is located in a humid subtropical region, where there is no snow for making snowballs.


A photo of ice skating/skiing/sledging or any fun in the snow for the Vintage Photos Theme Park on Ipernity.

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Taken on February 3, 2017