13 July 2017

Pleasant View School

In the early morning hours of March 18, 1943, in the North Atlantic west of Portugal, German submarine U-521 delivered the torpedo that sank US Liberty Ship Molly Pitcher. Just two weeks out of New York on her maiden voyage, the ship had been severely damaged the previous day by taking a torpedo hit from another U-boat - U-167 -  causing the 69 crew members and one passenger to abandon ship. Four were drowned.

The Liberty Ship Molly Pitcher - 1943

This news must have come as quite a shock and disappointment to the twenty-seven 4th and 5th graders who attended Hillsborough Township's Pleasant View School. Before 1860 the school was located on the north side of Hillsborough Rd. It was then relocated to the southbound side of what today we call Route 206, right at the intersection of Hillsborough Road.

Pleasant View School Graduates 1907
The first school building on the new site was typical of the mid 19th-century one-room schoolhouses that dotted Hillsborough and the rest of rural New Jersey. The second school, circa 1910, was also a one-room school. It was larger with more amenities - but still no electricity or indoor plumbing. You can see both schools in the photo below.

Pleasant View Schools built circa 1860 and 1910
 - photo courtesy of  Raymond Funkhouser

In 1943 school was taught by Mrs. Florence Sutphin - who vigorously encouraged her charges in their patriotic pursuits. So enthusiastic were her students in their desire to help win the war, that they won the Courier News scrap metal drive contest by collecting 3,130 pounds per pupil - for a total of 88,000 pounds!

The Courier News 27 October 1942

 At the end of the contest, children submitted essays about what they had done to ensure victory. The winner of the contest, 11-year-old Anna Piskorowski, was then invited to participate in the launching of a brand new Liberty Ship - The Molly Pitcher. Children from all over New Jersey submitted name suggestions for the ship. The students at Pleasant View wanted the ship to be named after the brother of a classmate who had been recently killed in the Pacific. Nevertheless, they were thrilled that Anna and Mrs. Sutphin were going to Baltimore to christen The Molly Pitcher.

The Courier News 28 January 1943 
At the beginning of the next school year, a shortage of teachers and gasoline for busing students meant that Pleasant View School had to be closed. Two weeks later it was announced that the school would be offered to the troops stationed at the Belle Mead Army Service Forces depot to be used as a service club.

Students at the New Pleasant View School, circa 1918
- photo courtesy of Raymond Funkhouser

After the war, the school reopened to students, but was closed and sold in the summer of 1950 as the new Hillsborough Consolidated School (HES) was set to open. Actually, the school was sold twice, as, according to a report in The Courier News, the first winning bidders "failed to comply with the terms of the sale." The school finally sold in October 1950 for $6,100.

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