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The 13th Street Gang:
from kindergarten to college on one street

Where can you go from kindergarten to elementary school, junior high to high school, and then to college without ever leaving the same street? Why, North 13th Street in Reading, Pa., of course! In fact, in the 1960s, North 13th Street was noted in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not article for being the only place in the United States where you can accomplish such a feat. More than 100 Albright alumni have done just that.

Reflecting on their schooling, Albright alumni share why they chose to stay on North 13th Street and attend Albright and why it was so special.

Christ G. Karas '69

Christ G. Kraras ’69
“Having been raised across the street from Albright where our family owned the luncheonette that was the College hangout, and being a lifelong Lion fan for every sport, Albright was always my first and only choice and dream.

I didn't fully realize how unique the experience truly was until the end of my college career when the Ripley’s piece appeared in the paper. But, after that revelation, those of us to whom it applied have not stopped talking about it. And to boot, I was born in St. Joseph’s Hospital, on guess where - 13th Street!”


Frank L. Pepe ’68
“What was special about having attended kindergarten through college on 13th Street was always feeling “at home” while among an unparalleled concentration of quality educators.

Note: Frank’s brother, Peter F. Pepe ’62, is also a member of the 13th Street Gang.

James E. Stocker, DPM '69
James E. Stocker, D.P.M. ’69
“Albright was part of my life from the time I moved to the edge of the campus at age four in 1951. I grew up with many of the administrators and professors as neighbors and friends of the family, and I became a gym rat and all-around sports groupie for the Albright teams. Consequently, Albright was the ONLY college I thought about applying to when I was in high school.”

Nan H. (Heckman) Cooper ’51
“Quite frankly, we never thought much about the fact that we were an oddity...going from kindergarten through college on one street. It was a natural progression, and a very handy one, indeed, since most families had one car only. We could walk just about anywhere we wanted to go, and no one had to drive us to and from school activities. We could go home for lunch or even between classes when at Albright.

I actually lived on 13th Street and attended church on 13th Street (Nativity Lutheran Church), where I was married in 1954.

As I reflect upon those days, I realize they were golden ones. What a shame we didn't always know it at the time.”

Donald B. Wise '56

Donald B. Wise ’56
“The Korean War was in progress. After about 20 months of active duty we were released. Within that time period, the GI Bill® was extended to Korean veterans. I got out in August 1952 and started college in September. Having been away for 20 months, I was not too interested in leaving again so soon.

So you can see that the decision to attend Albright College was not really much of a decision. It was the natural thing to do. I got a great education; I was able to help my parents while in college; I could live at home and be very close to the campus (I spent a lot of time in the Zeta House.); and I spent my days in an overall community I was comfortable in and I was with my local friends at the same time I was developing lasting friendships at Albright.”

Note: Don also obtained a master’s degree on 13th Street through a Temple University program based at Albright College.

Lisbeth A. (Fox) Shugar '71

Lisbeth A. (Fox) Shugar ’71
“I always knew that I wanted to attend Albright. My mother, Shirley Machemer Fox, had attended the first kindergarten at 13th and Union. She completed Northeast and Reading High, then after graduation, took a job as a bookkeeper at Albright. When I had the opportunity to continue the 13th Street story, there was never a question in my mind about where I would go to college.

When my husband and I returned to Reading with our children, I was clear on the idea that we should find a house where they, too, would have the 13th Street education opportunity, since it had served us so well in the past. While both of them went to public school on 13th Street, my daughter, Becky (Shugar) Hughes ’00, was the only one to graduate from Albright. (My son graduated from Kutztown University.)

I like the unique quality of being able to attend schools all on the same street, within walking distance of each other and not be a “school campus” that has become popular with some school districts. The 13th Street schools are all neighborhood schools.”

Ronald S. Romig, M.D. '51
Ronald S. Romig, M.D. ’51
“I chose Albright because it had a good reputation for pre-med, which I intended to enter, later going to medical school. It gave me an excellent pre-med education. All being on 13th Street, I was able to walk to all schools, beginning with kindergarten, and ending with Albright. It is a great school that I would recommend to anybody.”
Earl T. Bolig III '68

Earl T. Bolig III ’68
“I chose Albright because it was like home to me. I grew up a few blocks from the campus and was always there watching football and basketball games, or just playing basketball in the gym. We used to sled on a hill that is now occupied by the cafeteria. I played on a PAL baseball team that was coached by the dean, [Mahlon H.] Hellerich, and we had Kelchner field as our home field.

Thirteenth Street was not only where I was schooled, but I worked for 32 years at Lucent Tech and drove up 13th Street to work everyday. Sometimes I feel like I have a rubberband attached to me and 13th Street. I just can't get away from that street!”

Vivien L. Aulenbach '64

Vivien L. (Griesemer) Aulenbach ’64
“As I walked between 13th and Union and my home in the 1300 block of Locust and sat in my elementary classes, I would see these ‘big kids’ going to the ‘big school’ across the street. I decided then that when I got ‘big I would go there, too. I never lost sight of that dream and never applied to another school...never even thought of it.

Being able to walk to all my schools and remain part of a community I loved was special. Albright College, 11th & Pike Playground, College Manor Swimming Pool, Hampden Park and the hills in front of it were all part of our ‘play’ area. The Chapel and library were not built and we could ‘cut across’ Albright’s campus as we went to Kelchner Field and College Manor. Of course, there was always a stop at the fish pond!”

Karen A. Ulrich '74

Karen A. (Miller) Ulrich ’74
“I always wanted to go to Albright since I was a young child. We lived on 14th Street and went to the football games as children. It was my dream and I was thrilled to go.

I have special memories from each school on 13th Street. I liked being “home” for college.”

Note: Karen’s sister, Debbie (Miller) Baver ’79, and aunt, Vivian (Miller) Reitz ’48, are also members of the 13th Street Gang.

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