Last Updated:  September 23, 2023



Remember When ...

1957 - The GOOD 'Ol Days!



** Tuesday - June 4th, 1957 **



Fond Memories from Yesteryear (1957):


SONGS:  All Shook Up ... April Love ... Banana Boat Song ... Honeycomb ... I'm Walkin' ... Peggy Sue ... Tammy... That'll Be the Day ... Wake Up Little Susie .. Young Love

HEADLINES:  European Common Market established (3/25) ... The Mayflower II landed at Plymouth (6/13)... Surgeon General announced link between cigarettes and cancer (7/12) ... lst commercial building with solar heat completed (8/1) ... NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command established (8/1)... Senator Strom Thurmond set new filibuster record of 24+ hours (8/30) ... Ford began selling the Edsel (9/4) ... "Perry Mason" lst appeared on TV (9/21) ... The U.S. Air Force sent 1st American objects into space (10/16).

LEADERS:  Dwight D. Eisenhower was President ... Richard M. Nixon was Vice President

TOP STUFF: Movie:  The Bridge on the River Kwai ... Actor:  Alec Guinness ... Actress:  Joanne Woodward .. Won World Series:  Milwaukee NL ... Heavyweight Champion:  Floyd Patterson...Derby Winner:  Iron Liege ... Miss America:  Marian McKnight ... Won Golf US Open:  Dick Mayer ... NFL Champion:  Detroit Lions.

BIRTHS: Nancy Lopez-Melton - Golfer (1/6) ... Princess Caroline Monaco Royalty (1/23) ... Joan Benoit - Runner (3/16) ... Laura Branigan - Singer (7/3) ... Ron Duquay - Hockey Player (7/6) ... Melanie Griffith - Actress (8/9) ... Caroline Kennedy - Kennedy Heiress (11/27)

PRICES:  Flour/5 lbs $.55     Eggs/dozen $.57  Bacon/1 lb  $.74  Milk/half gallon  $.50  Pair of Boots $14.60  Pair of Pants $9.70 Baseball $1.55  Lady's Bicycle $64.45  1 ct diamond ring  $818.00  Shotgun $136.45

On This Day (June 4th) in History:  1st woman (opera singer) rode in balloon (1784) ... Tomatoes introduced in the U.S. (1834) ... Henry Ford successfully tested car in the dark of night (1896)...1st minimum wage law enacted in U.S. (1912) ... Allied evacuation from Dunkirk ended (1940) ... Allied troops entered Rome (1944)

Around 1920 Harrison and Brackenridge joined together to build a high school thus the name Har-Brack Union High School. As things change with times the word Union began to become obsolete and not used. In 1964
Harrison, Brackenridge, Fawn and Tarentum officially became Highlands School District.

For the first several years the district left all names as they were and the 1965, 66, 67 classes graduated from Har-Brack High School (or Tarentum High School) with the words Highlands School District under that name. Har-Brack then was used as Highlands High School until the current building was constructed.

As the building was used for alot of transitions and grade reorgainizations the building went through many different changes and is currently Highlands Middle School.

If you wish additional information, we have a book "Historical Natrona" which gives more details, not only about this building but the many other schools in the Natrona/Natrona Heights Area. In additional, you will find alot of information about the history of the town itself.

The cost of the book is $25 plus $6 shipping/handling. We are not set-up to accept credit/debit cards. Upon receipt of a check (or money order) for $31, I will be more than happy to mail you a copy.

If you wish additional detail and legal information you may obtain it by mailing a letter of request to -
Highlands School District
Board of Education
PO Box 288
Natrona Heights, PA 15065

They have the archives of all schools that are now considered Highlands School District.

If you would like other information, just let me know at or call 724-224-0178.

On the right is downtown Birdville.  That is Spencer's Bowling Allery on the far right of the photo.  This was when Freeport Road was a two-way street through Birdville. That is the Hiland Movie Theatre on the left with Eger Jewelers at the right of it.  There was a soda parlor next to that with a single pin ball machine which used to get regular abuse by the teens.  

On the left is our Alma Mater with vintage public vehicles posed.


On the right is an aerial view of Heights Plaza.  The property at one time was an airport for the postal service pick up and delivery.


Photos above are the courtesy of Bill Rudolph Har-Brack Class of 1956.

Go into Anchor Inn and ask to see the photos.




Center image shows a Marine Corps guard hoists the colors at the flag-raising ceremony to open the Heights Plaza shopping center on November 10, 1955.  About 3,000 people attended the ceremony, and co-developers John P. and Alex Marino expected more than 15,000 shoppers to visit this center on its first day.  G.C. Murphy Co. (left image) still holds down the corner spot in the plaza, but Islay's and Richman Brothers (right image) are gone.  Source:  Valley Daily News Dispatch dated Sunday, December 19, 1993


Back Row: Ed Achmoody, Henry Gofart, Howard Huey, Jim Jones, Ronald Wolfe, Dale Wolfe

Middle Row: Victor Capaccioni, Jim Patrick, Cephus Benton, Ted Kravits, Jim Widmer, Louis Ward, Joe Baczynski, Joe Jensons

Front Row: Jim Murdock, Mert Goings, Levell or Lavell Negely, Connie Novak, Karen Oblinger, Harriet McGee, Janice Benanan, Peggy Fredericks, Eileen Jensons, Jean Clark, Dave Cowan

Thanks to Barb Swartz Romeo and Ron Wolfe for this photo and names they provided February 2015.

Above is Home Room 9th Grade Class

Recognize Anyone?  Send an email and their name will be added:


Mrs. Ruffners Second Grade Class at Birdville School, 1946-1947

Top Row:  J. Schreckengost, Charles "Skip" Tindall, Dale "Coke" Lucas, Janice Betush (Miles), Tom Kuhn, Jeanne Clark, Unknown Twin, Vic Capoccioni

Row 2:  Marilyn Nalbach,Unknown, Lois Madrunka, Unknown, Unknown twins, Karen Oblinger, Dick Aretz, Unknown

Row 3:  Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Barbara Swartz, Unknown,

Row 4:  Nancy Lloyd, Bill Thorpe, Merdith Gohn, Joyce and Joan Hetrick, Unknown, Barbara McCormick, Unknown, J. Hetrick

Row 5:  Ted Savage, Lois Shook (Gigler), Don Vrotney, Unknown twin, Unknown, Mary Kay Haugh, Ted Kravits, J. Hetrick, Unknown.


Miss Barclay's Third Grade Class, Birdville School, 1947-48

Back row:  Harriet McGee, ? Misturka, Nancy Lloyd, Unknown, Janice Behanna, Unknown, Miss Barclay, Lewis Lynch, Albert "Ham" Harbison, Unknown Doug Brumbaugh, Unknown, ?Doshen, Meridth Gohn,

Middle Row:  Unknown, Tom Kuhn, Unknown, Lois Shook (Gigler), Unknown, Barbara Swartz, Unknown, Joe Baczynski, Dick Aretz, Gary Ward, Vic Capoccioni,

Front Row:  Ron Bohn, Jim Conroy, Mary Kay Haugh, Nancy Baechtel, Unknown, Gail Baechtel, Betty Joecis, Unknown, Janice Beale, Doris Malcolm (Atkinson), Unknown, Marilyn Nalbach.


Polish Friends and Cousins

Ethnic Days

Gerry Sowinski (noted), next to her is Val Jean Cywinski, Bernice Meso (noted), and Mrs. Kania (noted)

Photo courtesy of Val Jean Cywinski

Recognize Anyone from 1st Grade Class at Prospect School in the image below?  Image compliments of LeRoy Redin.

Recognize anyone from 8th grade class at Wood Street?  Image compliments of Le Roy Redin.  Here are my best guesses!  If you disagree, tell me.

Last row: ?? Teacher, James Boustead, Unknown, Richard Sanoba, John Wesoloski, Richard Puchone, Unknown, Robert Zbikowski

Third Row:  Unknown, Joseph Sydlik, Clarence Kolek, Donald Vrotney, Leroy Redin, Luigi Digiacobbi, John Bryson, Frances Cieslinski

Second Row:  Bernice Wasilowski, Patricia Owczykowski, Linda Walsh, Beverly Shupeck, Unknown, Unknown, Carol Pogorzelski, Geraldine Rzeczkowski

First Row:  Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Sandra Schutzler, Mary Lou Demichelle, Alice Sydlik, Dolores Janceck, Frances Jenrejeski


Left to Right are:  Val Jean Cywinski, Marcia Josefoski, Denise Staresenic, Carole Severin, Linda Walsh, Mary Louise DeMichele, Paul Finley Edwards, Syl Zembrzuski, Nicky Staresenic, Raymond Dombroski, Richard Sanoba.




We, the Senior Class of Har*Brack High School, being of unsound mind an doubtful memory and considering the uncertainty of all the Seniors graduating, do make, publish, and declare this instrument as and for our last will and testament; that is to say:

We direct our sponsors--Mrs. Speranza, Mrs. Briggs, Mr. Gill, and Mr. Pishioneri--to pay all our just and unjust debts as soon as possible after our departure.


To our sponsors we also bequeath our eternal thanks for their advice, help, and above all, their patience.  We know we have not shown our appreciation as often as we should, but we never could have succeeded as a class without them.

We thank the faculty for guiding us over three stormy years.

We bequeath to Har-Brack High School all the juniors, sophomores, and on-coming freshmen who should be honored to have the preivilege of attending here.

We bequeath to the Class of '58:  (1)  our assembly seats, hoping that the seniors of next year will absorb some of the so-called dignity that is left over from this year; (2) our text books to be opened only during classes, as was our custom; (3) our weary teachers -- but beware juniors -- they will be refreshed for the intellectual battle of '58; (4) The traditional successful Senior Class Play.

Individual seniors of lesser mind and more doubtful memory do hereby bequeath the following items to their beloved friends in the junior class, and also the sophomore class.

Jim Jordan leaves all of his history arguments to Charlie Jacques.

Look out Mr. Sagath, you're in for a rough time.

Bob Cusma grants to Ray Naperkowski all of his extra beef. 

We won't have to worry about you getting blown away, Ray.

Rich Sanoba leaves is position as president of the henpecked club to Dave Schaffer

We thought Rich was bad.

Pat Grabigel and Vonnie Pierre leave to the lucky junior girls, their active jobs as presidents of the G.L.C. and Tri-Hi-Y.

To Ed Petroliaj --- we give many beautiful curls from the head of Sylvia Naperkowski

Remember to be as dainty as she was, Ed !!

Sylvester Zembrzuski bequeaths his athletic abilities to Bob Bubash.

A little more always helps !!!

Bob McKinney gives to Alan Ritchie his spare tires. 

Watch out, though Itch, because they are undoubtedly bald!!!

Alan Smeltzer gives his convertible top to Bob Bowser.

You might as well take it, Bob, because Smeltz never uses it!!!

Carole Severin and Cheryl Bonner leave their sweet and quiet manners to Emily Olson and Jeannie Boice

These will help you get your man just like they helped Cheryl and Carole.

Nick Gamer leaves his gavel to Mary Jane Harper

Good Luck -- and carry your class through as he did.

Ron Bibza wills his key to the office door to Eddie Saleet

Your hand must be tired from knocking so use Ron's key and feel at home!!!

Lee Redin gives his ability to make love to a V8 to Ron Reyer

We hope you make out as well as Lee did, Ron!!!

Jim Widmer and Ray Dombroski leave their ability to figure out plays to Mike Krofchik. 

Now you will known on which side to go, Krof!!!

Connie Novak leaves her power to handle men to Joyce Hrivnak

"Never let him go". ---Good luck trapping!!!

Ray Olszewski leaves all his pranks to Billy Young

If you can't be seen, at least you'll be heard!!!

Bob Slobodnik leaves his number 14 barges to Tom Sowinski.

May you fill them as well as his little toes did!!!

Judy Logue leaves her height to her cousin, Pat Chelko

You can be sure your classmates will look up to you, Pat!!!

Audrey Reinher's wardrobe and Marcia Josefoski's curls and hair styles are left to Barbara Romanowski.

We know you'll look as well as they did in them.

Ed Schmitt wills to Kay White his ability to help his mother through high school. 

We hope you have it as easy as he did!!!

Joyce Long and Gerri Sowinski leave their blonde hair and their brains to Charlotte Jones and Dianne Catulle

We know that your brightness will show both ways.

Beverly Shupeck and Marlene Smith leave their companionship and giggling ways to JoAnne DeAngelis and Patti Biernacki.  We know you'll never get serious!!

Ray Persinski leaves his ability to dream up physic experiements to Dick Staley

Don't get in a trance while you're putting experiments to work !!!

Ted Savage gives all of his clothes to his brother, Larry, that is his winter clothers! 

The Affrican atmosphere is enough to keep him warm--so he doesn't need wool.

Paul Edwards leaves his ability to sink a one-hand push shot to Mike Matsik

That should be worth a few points !!!

Mary Ann Fredericks leaves her flirtatious and fickle ways to Billy Livorio.  We know that when the right girls comes along, you'll be true and steady like Mary Ann was !!!

Bob Johnson wills his gym bag to Jerry Arnold

See if you can't wear it out at all the practices, Jerry!!!

Norma Walker and Sandy Staley leave their love for traveling away from home for their interests to Charlene Painter and Suzanne Schutzler

We know you will have the same luck that they did !!!

The Senior majorettes leave the corp of "58" their fine showing, looks, good times, drills, and hope that you'll continue the good name it has established.

The Senior cheerleaders leaves to the squad of "58" their spirit, enthusiasm, and loyal support to all the teams.  Always know the score, girls!!!!


The foregoing was at the date thereof signed and sealed on this beautiful day of Friday, May 24, 1957 as and for the last will and testiment of the class of "57".


Val Jean Cywinski

Douglas Brumbaugh





To the left is photo of 1957 classmates Richard Zandarski and Raymond Olszewski in Yokosuka, Japan.  This was taken in the late 50s or early 60s.  Zandarski "Zhubba" was stationed aboard a Navy Aircraft Carrier (name unknown) and Ray was stationed on the USS TUNNY (SSG-282). Ironically, the two met while both were walking down one of the streets in Yokosuka.


Photo to the right is of several Har-Brack and New Kensington High School graduates at Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Illinois taken in 1957.

Back row:  Raymond Olszewski with two New Ken graduates

Regis Brucker, and McBride.  Bottom row are Har-Brack graduates Don Steffan and Jim Jordan. Photo courtesy of Ray Olszewski and identification of two New Ken Sailor was by Jim Jordon.

To the left are two images contributed by 1957 Classmate Syl Zembrzuski depicting 7th grade students in Natrona.  The girl next to Syl in the bottom picture is Barbara Linhart. In the top picture, there is Sylvia Napierkowski is in the picture to the immediate left along with Dan Abraham.  Syl further identified a "Mary Jane" (last name unknown) next to Sylvia.  Can anyone identify her?


To the right is another contribution by Syl Zembrzuski showing best buddies together.  That is John Wesoloski on the left and Syl Zembrzuski on the right.


IF YOU HAVE PICS, PLEASE SEND TO Webmaster Ray Olszewski.\

(703) 244-5678

Below is a Valley Daily News Article reporting the news about Syl Zembrzuski winning Track & Field Medals.

Our very own Syl Zembrzuski shared the following photograph which depicts him, a fellow Military Police (MP) Merle S. Spicer (deceased) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Audie L. Murphy.  Syl shares that Audie asked if they (Merle and Syl) wanted a photo and Audie suggested "make it look like you are apprehending me."  Syl reports further that the movie star was a very humble and polite man and spoke extensively with him when he was not busy behind the movie camera.  Merle and Syl's job wa to Guard and Protect the movie star from autograph seekers and of course any serious offenses towards him.

The occasion took place in June 1960 in Kitzingen, Germany when Audie Murphy was making a movie titled "Return to the Third Division.  The event was reported in Stars and Stripes and the Valley News Dispatch.

For more pictures that Syl shared, please click here.


This photo and others are on display at the Alle-Kiski Valley Museum in Tarentum, PA


Val Jean Cywinski English had a folder she kept for many years turning it  over to Ray for keeping.  In it was a note by Mary Beth Friel to Val Jean that read:  "Did we all wonder just how many marbles got rolled down the auditorium during study hall.  And, how about the time Ray Olszewski got overly thrilled w/helping on prom decorations and tried to cut his tongue off during his chit-chat.  And, I was there! Signed Mary Beth"


Well, if you click here, it will take you to the story of what actually happened to Ray Olszewski's tongue. 

Photo on the left is a number of us from Har-Brack Union High School leaving for the Navy in 1957.  Check out the Harmony Short Line bus.  Here you can find Louis Lynch, Jim Jordan, Joe Baczynski, Ray Olszewski, Bob Sherrib, Don Stefan. 

The following photos were taken by Syl Zembrzuski this past month (June 2013) of the Har-Brack (now Highlands Middle School) football field thinking it might bring some fond memories of the place.  Syl tells me that he was instrumental in bringing the sport of Track to Har-Brack when he came there from New Kensington. If you want to know more about the story, email Syl at:  Enjoy!




Received the following Reunion photos from Val Jean Cywinski in July 2013. Year and place of Reunion Unknown!



1992 and Another Year Reunions at Brackenridge Legion and River Forest facilities.  Images courtesy of Val Jean Cywinski English.








Photos of Classmates at the 2007 Class Reunion held at Brackenridge Country Club

Photos taken at Mini-Reunion of Har-Brack 1957 Classmates at Willard Anderson's home in Florida

Official Class Reunion Photo taken 8/26/2012

Other Pictures Shown Below taken by Ray Olszewski During the 2012 Reunion.  If anyone who attended as more, please send to Ray.



2017 (Anchor Inn)

(60 years after Graduation) Time flies when you are having fun!





Past Reunions