POLAND – Schwebel’s Baking Co. is said to have originated in Youngstown and bread, and you might add that Laurie Fox was born and raised in Poland.
“We run (Polish) village walking tours along the southern main street,” said Fox, 71, who grew up in Poland and graduated from Poland Seminary High School in 1969.
She was referring to one of the tasks of the Historical Society of the Canton of Poland, of which she was president for about four years.
The historical society, formed in 1979, is largely dedicated to the promotion of the heritage and monuments of the canton, to education and to the promotion of a greater interest in the history of Poland and to the maintenance of the Little Red Schoolhouse, 4515 Center Road, which the Poland Board of Education owns and which the company rents. for $1 per year.
The building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For its part, Fox organizes such walks on South Main, along which are a series of homes and businesses established in the 1800s.
For such occasions, members dress up in period clothing and hold re-enactments, Fox explained. The Presbyterian cemeteries of Riverside and Poland, the latter being the resting place of many of the township’s early settlers, are also included in the tour itineraries, she noted.
“It’s a history lesson for kids,” Fox said.
She also sits on the Polish Township Park Advisory Board, with the primary goal of increasing interest and activities in the 107-acre park off Moore Street. Plans are to build a gazebo and swing sets, as well as add facilities for those interested in pickleball, sand volleyball and disc golf, Fox noted.
Additionally, she was treasurer for eight years of the Holy Family Seniors Group at Holy Family Parish on Center Road, of which Fox’s mother, Ruth Burns, was president. The seniors get together once a month, and Fox is making his presence felt more openly.
“I’m the bingo caller for bingo,” she said with a chuckle, adding, “They’re very active with the community.”
However, its Poland-related activities do not end with the winning last letter and digit. Fox is also part of the non-profit National Slovak Society USA, based in McMurray, Pennsylvania, as well as the local chapter, which have 37,000 and 1,000 members respectively.
The primary mission of the NSS is to provide its fraternal family with a measure of financial security through annuities and insurance, its website states.
Specifically, Fox sits on the National Board of the NSS and President of Assembly Local 0731, which also offers activities for children.
In 2009, Fox, who is also an amateur photographer, retired after working 35 years as an administrative secretary for the superintendent of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.
“I just knew she could do a great job (for the Poland Township Historical Society), and she lived up to all expectations as president to follow me,” said Larry Baughman, who served in the role from 2014. to 2018, adding, “She’s great at photography and communication, and she’s a great leader.
These days, Fox and other members of society are busy leading the charge to beautify and add to the Little Red Schoolhouse, which was built in 1858 but ceased to operate as a school in 1915. Those efforts include plans to add flower beds and a donated shed in the back, Fox explained.
After 1915, the building was sometimes used for religious services and other functions, she continued.
In the 1980s, after it fell into disrepair, an addition was made to the building, and it procures and houses many donated artifacts related to the township’s history. Among them is a display case that contains portraits of former President William McKinley, whose childhood home was in Poland, as well as filing cabinets with archives of Poland’s early history.
A replica of the Old Savings and Deposit Bank near Riverside Drive, which was chartered in 1875, was recently donated to the historical society.
In addition, Poland’s school board meets once a year in the former one-room schoolhouse, Fox added.