Written by Rick Epstein
THE TERRIERS – Patches was a wire-haired terrier that Saylor “Bill” and Evelyn “Sue” Miller brought along when they moved to Frenchtown from Sunbury, Pa., in 1936.
Bill was the coach of the Frenchtown High School basketball team, and Sue would bring Patches to the games. In the winter of 1937-38 the boys asked the Millers if Patches could be their good-luck mascot.
Sue would adorn him with blue ribbons and yellow flowers on game days, and the boys renamed the dog “Popeye,” after the popular cartoon tough-guy. One issue of the Blue and Gold school newspaper referred to the dog as “King Popeye I.”
The Millers lived in a rented bungalow on the southeast corner of Harrison and Eleventh streets. In 1940 Patches ran out of the house into Harrison Street and was fatally struck by a car.
In December of 1946, the FHS junior class gave the Millers a new brown and white wire-haired terrier, who resided with them in their new residence in the Riegel Paper Co.'s Riegel Ridge Community Center, where Bill was the live-in manager. After a contest, the dog was named Miss Frenchtown or Missey for short. Sue resumed the tradition of decorating the dog in school colors and bringing her to the games.
When Frenchtown High School became an elementary school in 1959, although Missey was no longer on the sidelines, the Terrier as official spirit animal was passed along to Delaware Valley Regional High School while being retained by the Frenchtown school.
In the early 1960s students held a referendum on replacing the Terrier, and the dog survived. Student grumblings in 1978 brought on another round of balloting.
Bob Breithoff of Milford and Rick Albanese of Holland Township, Class of '78, both said a Terrier is not rough enough. They liked the Del Val Demons.
Ballots were weighed in the front office, and 12 ounces were for Terriers and 9 ounces were for a change. Voting with the majority were Jill Anderson, a junior from Pittstown who cited tradition, and senior Jill Jochen from Alexandria Township, who said the dog is “a sign of victory. Besides the dog is cute, and we had him before Phillipsburg Catholic.”