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York County, Shrove Tuesday, Fasnacht Day, Ash Wednesday, barring out the teacher, Lancaster New Era


A handwritten letter from Colsin R. Shelly, Principal of Lafayette School, to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dated February 3, 1949. In the letter Shelly details stories of barring out the schoolmaster on Shrove Tuesday and traditions associated with Ash Wednesday.


Colsin R. Shelly


Alfred L. Shoemaker

Corresponds to:

Packet 319


Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Feb. 3, 1949

Dr. Alfred L. Shoemaker

F. & M. College

Lancaster, Pa.

Dear Dr. Shoemaker:

I, being a Pennsylvania Dutchman by birth, born in western part of York Co., do thoroughly enjoy your column in the New Era. After reading your article this evening I thought of several customs in western York Co. which took place every Shrove Tuesday, Fasanacht, and Ash Wednesday.

The last one out of bed on Shrove Tuesday was the old cluck, the first one the little peepie. The last one at school was the old cluck and was frequently reminded of the fact during the day by calling him the old cluck. Every pupil tried to get to school early before the teacher. Then if at all possible they would get on the inside of the building and barricade the door with benches and chairs so the teacher could not get in. Sometimes he was kept out the greater part of the forenoon.

I recall of one teacher who smashed in a windowpane, which frightened the pupils so badly they opened the door.

If the teacher got there before the pupils everything was alright until nature compelled him to go outside, then the door was locked. The effect was the same as above.

I had heard that one teacher went home for the day.

On Ash Wednesday the last one up or at school was the “esha puddler” – one who puddles in ashes.

Had you ever heard of penning the teacher out on Fasanacht? I have asked several people around Lancaster about it, but no one seems to know about the custom. When I was a youngster this was a general practice.

Yours, C. R. Shelly



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Letter from Colsin R. Shelly to Alfred L. Shoemaker, February 3, 1949



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