The past presented

SHS Alumni showcase Southport History at PTEC


Jessica Paro

David Ladd (left) and Barry Browning have worked to take care of the SHS Alumni Association Room, which they call a showcase of Southport memorablilia. Both men have collected memorabilia and hope to share their displayed items with the community.

Decorated with old, threadbare letter jackets and picture collages of SHS alumni within large, black frames, the walls of the SHS Alumni Association in the PTEC building are lined from ceiling to baseboards with various forms of Southport memorabilia.
Within those rooms, there are tabletops slated with neatly positioned glass panes used to preserve newspapers and photographs aged by time. There are also large displays stocked with an array of SHS novelties. For example, the original lyric sheet to “Hail, Hail our Southport.” These furnishings, along with other fixtures, line the perimeter of the rooms and down the corridors.
This small three-room suite at PTEC has gone, for the most part, unnoticed and unseen. However, to keep the past presented, two men, David Ladd and Barry Browning, have continued to take care of the space, curating the room into what it is currently.
“It’s officially the SHS Alumni Association room,” Browning said. “I would call it a showcase of Southport memorabilia.”
When the room was first handed down to him, the entrance room of the suite was an office while the other two rooms were full of storage.
However, there is a bit more to the background of the room itself, according to both Browning and Ladd.
“This is kind of an outgrowth (from) when the school celebrated their centennial of the first graduating class,” Browning said.
Essentially, some members of the Alumni Association banded together in 1994 to celebrate this event. Then, members solicited stories and items from the Southport community to make all sorts of displays and presentations for the centennial. Having gathered the themed materials, the organizers decorated a room at SHS, which was where the items now in the room first were before the PTEC building.
“They asked for donations,” Ladd said. “A lot of people brought in stuff, but (the organizers) didn’t intend for it to be left (at the school).”
Everything in the room was left in place, according to Ladd, but that wasn’t what was planned. A couple years later that room was needed by the high school, so all the inputs were packed away in boxes for several years.
According to Browning, these boxes would be unpackaged in the summer of 2010 when Dr. Thomas Little, superintendent at the time, granted Cindy Bertram, a retired SHS teacher and SHS alumni, the permission to move into larger rooms in the PTEC building. After the former users of the suites transferred to other rooms, the Perry Township and Southport Historical Society were given two suites- one given to SHS and Perry each.
Bertram and Georgia Stumpf, a retired SHS teacher and SHS alumni, alongside several others, began to piece together decade by decade memory collages and fill the display cases in the hall nearest to the room at PTEC, using the items stored away from the high school.
“Well, they didn’t want to get the room and not populate it. It would be like going on a date and not talking to her,” Ladd said.
In 2015, Browning became the official historian for the Alumni Association. Browning was offered the position of board member for the Alumni Association. In taking up the opportunity, Browning had to terminate his role as historian, passing the torch to Ladd. Since January 2016, Ladd has served as the caretaker of the suite. Together, though, they still continue the work of Bertram and others, having procured additional display cases and arranging the “SHS Museum” as it is today.