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School history researchers seek old yearbooks

Fassifern School for Girls operated for four decades on Fleming Street in Hendersonville. Fassifern School for Girls operated for four decades on Fleming Street in Hendersonville.

Bo Caldwell does not know Lowell Joerg. Lowell does not know Bo.

 

That did not prevent Caldwell and the county’s education history committee from becoming the beneficiary of Joerg’s pastime. He combs antique stores for treasures.
“I like to call my little hobby a ‘redistribution of happiness,’” Joerg wrote last month in a note to Caldwell, Henderson County’s superintendent of schools. “Our world sure needs it.”
Joerg found a pristine postcard, circa 1938, showing the Fassifern School for Girls, which operated at 1025 Fleming Street from about 1911 until 1951 or 1952. (The exact years are murky. A historic marker on a remaining stone column dates the school from 1907 to 1951. Local history expert Jennie Jones Giles and other sources date Fassifern from 1911 to 1952.)
A resident of an assisted living center in Stockton, California, Joerg, 90, sent the postcard off to the schools superintendent.
“It’s an old-time classic for sure so I said to myself, ‘By golly, I think I’ll send it home where it can be appreciated,’” he wrote. “Our heritage is important to us all and should be preserved. … Well, I gave $3 for it so if you want it for $4 or $5 or so why that’s sure OK.”
Caldwell pulled a $5 bill out of his wallet, stuck it in an envelope and mailed it to California.

“My wife used to laugh at me and say, ‘If you hear from them you’ll have to take me out to lunch,’” Joerg wrote, adding he’s “still going strong as far as I know.”
Derek Allen and Rick Wood show off a 1944 issue of The Sapphire, the yearbook of the Fassifern School for Girls.Derek Allen and Rick Wood show off a 1944 issue of The Sapphire, the yearbook of the Fassifern School for Girls.When the postcard arrived, Caldwell gave it to Rick Wood, a School Board member and one of the founders of the Henderson County Education History Initiative. Formed in 2011, the history initiative adopted an ambitious mission. It vows to “methodically seek, collect and organize all known information about education in Henderson County, so that an accurate history can be documented, preserved and made available in accessible forms for present and future generations.”
January turned out to be the month for Fassifern School. Committee member Derek Allen had just acquired a 1944 edition of The Sapphire, the Fassifern yearbook. That year’s annual was dedicated “To her who lent you her best sweater to wear to class, who shared your confidences, and who largely made Fassifern what it was for you this year … Your roommate.”
“It was a coincidence that Derek had found that yearbook on the internet several weeks ago and had purchased it and brought it to the History Initiative meeting,” Wood said.
Suddenly, the committee had an idea. Yearbooks are valuable sources of pictures, dates and information about the schools in the county, the students who attended, the athletes and academics who starred at them and the coaches and teachers who mentored them.
The committee is putting out a call for yearbooks from county schools, present or gone, public or private. The committee is especially interested in older annuals; it has collected many from more recent year. Some examples they’d like to get include the Blue Ridge School for Boys, Flat Rock, Mills River, Etowah and East Flat Rock union or high schools and many more.

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If you have a historic yearbook you’d like to donate to the Education History Initiative, bring it to the school system central office, 414 Fourth Avenue West. One mystery we were unable to solve is the reference to the Fassifern Pillars Apartments at the top of the postcard. The property is now the site of a Sav-Mor discount supermarket, which opened as an Ingles in 1969. If you have information about the apartments, contact the Lightning at 828-698-0407 or news@hendersonvillelightning.com.