Toner Institute (1899-1977)

Toner Institute in Brookline - 1945

History of Toner Institute

♦ The Toner Farm
♦ Institution Chartered
♦ Move to Mount Lebanon
♦ The Administration Building
♦ Addition of School Building
♦ Our Lady of Angels Chapel
♦ Passing of Reverend Cratz
♦ Father Sigmund Memorial Hall
♦ Distinguished World War Veterans

Completion of Campus ♦
Reverend Krah's Military Theme ♦
The Wayward Steer ♦
Silver Jubilee ♦
Succession of Superintendents ♦
Five-Alarm Fire Destroys Barn ♦
Blue Jeans and Shrinking Enrollment ♦
Cash Crisis and School Closing ♦
"Father, What Will Happen to You?" ♦

♦ Toner Institute Superintendents ♦

Newspaper Clippings

♦ Cadet Escapes as Plane Crashes - 1936 ♦
♦ Student Confirmation - 1940 ♦
♦ So You Want To Be Cowboys - 1940 ♦
♦ Toner Takes up Boxing - 1942 ♦
♦ Amateur Baseball Day - 1943 ♦
♦ Happy Home for Homeless Boys - 1949 ♦
♦ Buster Crabb Thrills Toner Boys - 1955 ♦
♦ A Flag to Remember - 1960 ♦

Christmas at Toner Institute - 1963.
Cadets at Toner Institute are visited by Santa Claus on Christmas Day, 1963.

The Toner Farm

Toner Institute, established in 1899, was an orphanage for boy's run by the Capuchin Franciscan Friars. The school was named for Dr. James L. Toner of Westmoreland County, who provided in his will a $140,000 fund to establish a school for boys from broken or disrupted homes.

Originally housed at St. Joseph's Protectory, located on Vine Street, the orphanage relocated to a new Catholic Industrial School called Toner Institute on the 100 acre Toner Farm in Derry Township in 1901, under the care of the Brothers of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Sisters of Mercy. Reverend Joseph Gerold, who had been in charge of St. Joseph's for several years, was assigned as superintendent of the newly formed establishment.

Twenty boys were transfered from St. Joseph's to Toner Farm during that first year in Derry. These children, ranging in age from eight to sixteen, received an education, worked the farm fields to earn their keep and were taught the trade of their choice. Some of the children were placed in homes and the rest were raised to adulthood and then released.

Toner Institute in Derry Township - 1911
Toner Institute in 1911, when located on a farm in Derry Township.

Institution Chartered

In May 1909, Bishop Regis Canevin appointed a committee to oversee the reorganization of Toner Institute. He proposed that the institute also be utilized as a place for homeless boys who came within the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts, although it was not to take in boys charged with criminality.

Under the direction of the St. Vincent DePaul Society, the institute was to be funded completely through private means, with no assistance from the government or local agencies.* The institution was officially chartered and the name changed to Toner Institute and Seraphic Home. The new superintendent assigned by the Bishop was Reverend Sigmund Cratz.

Toner Institute - Reverend Sigmund Cratz.
Reverend Sigmund Cratz

* Note: In later years, parents could enroll a child at Toner Institute for a small fee.

School Moved to Mount Lebanon

The school moved to Brookline in 1914, relocating temporarily to several homes along Dorchester Avenue. It was now also under the auspices of the Seraphic Work of Charity and administered by the Franciscan Capuchin Fathers with the Sisters of Divine Providence.

Fifty acres of rolling land were acquired on the hilltop overlooking Brookline's Dorchester Avenue, stretching from Castlegate to Queensboro Avenues to the north, and bordering McNeilly Road to the south, with the purpose of building a campus to house the orphanage. It took several years of hard work, but as time went by the campus began to take shape.

Although the school's location was was just across the border in a remote corner of neighboring Mount Lebanon, the nearby citizenry and the local Pittsburgh newspapers continually referred to the institution as being located in Brookline. The institution was even given a Brookline address and zip code. This geographical misprint continued throughout the school's existence.

Barns and other out-buildings were soon erected to house farm animals and equipment, and the children of the orphanage worked to cultivate the fields, thereby providing plenty of fresh vegetables and dairy products. Surplus product was sold to local merchants or at market in the city to help provide funding for continued growth.

The Administration Building

On December 8, 1914, construction of the administration building, which also served as a dormitory, school and chapel, was complete. Fundraising efforts were conducted by the German Knights of St George, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Seraphic Work of Charity, the German Catholic Society, the German Catholic Women's League and the Saint Vincent DePaul Society.

Toner Institute - 1915.
The first building to rise at Toner Institute was the Administration Building, including a dormitory for the boys.

Chief among these fundraising bazaars were Donation Day and Flower Day. These events were well attended and brought in very generous amounts of money. Because of this type of generosity and the hard work of the instructors, by July 1916 the institute was proud to proclaim that, since 1910, 548 boys had received training and education.

A stone statue of St. Francis of Assisi was erected on November 11, 1921, to commemorate the 700th Anniversary of the founding of the Third Order of St. Francis. The boys of the institute provided entertainment and lunch was served by the Ladies' Auxiliary. The statue was the work of Pittsburgh sculptor Frank Artez.

Toner Institute - 1924.
A group of boys at Toner Institute on October 19, 1924.

Toner Institute - 1924.
Rev. Thomas Bryson (above) of St. Brendan's Roman Catholic Church, Dormont, delivers the sermon on October 19, 1924
and Bishop Hugh C. Boyle, who placed the cornerstone, along with his assistants and other dignitaries.

Addition of the School Building

On October 19, 1924, Bishop Hugh C. Boyle officiated the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of a new school building. With construction costs of approximately $70,000, the structure was comprised of three classrooms and a recreation hall.

This occasion also coincided with the annual Donation Day festivities and was attended by thousands of locals from Brookline and the surrounding area. The new wing, St. Anthony's Hall, was dedicated on June 13, 1925. A cloister connected the structure with the existing administration building.

Toner Institute - 1925.
St. Anthony's Hall, the new school building, was dedicated on June 13, 1925. Below is Rev. Julius Baker,
Bishop Hugh C. Boyle, Rev. Eugene Baker and Rev. Sigmund Cratz, director of the institute.

Toner Institute - 1926.
Construction of St. Anthony's Hall resulted in a $35,000 debt for the institution. Here the kids are gathered
during a reception and card party held on April 3, 1926. These fundraising activities were generally very
well attended due to the wonderful job done at Toner Institute with the boys in it's care.

Our Lady of Angels Chapel

Nearly two years later, on July 4, 1927, Bishop Boyle was present again, this time for another milestone in the growth of Toner Institute. Assisted by Father James Quinn of Brookline's Church of the Resurrection, Bishop Boyle laid the cornerstone for a large chapel, situated next to the school building and dedicated to Our Lady of Angels. The completed chapel was dedicated on September 14, 1930.

Toner Institute - 1930.
Church dignitaries who participated in the dedication of the new chapel are shown in the above pictures. Members of
the committee in charge (upper photo) were George J. Bich, Francis J. Dadowski, Lawrence J. Fey, J. E. Tarter,
Louis Dadowski Jr, Thomas H. Hester. M. C. Hippert and C. A. Englert; (lower photo) Monsignor Martin Ryan,
Archabbot Alfred Koch, Bishop J. J. Swint of Wheeling, Bishop Hugh C. Boyle, Monsignor Edward E. Weber,
Bishop Joseph G. Pinten of Grand Rapids and Rev. Sigmund Cratz, director of the institute.

Toner Institute - 1930.
The inside of Our Lady of Angels sanctuary shortly before the dedication.

Toner Institute - 1931.
The Toner Institute Choristers in January 1931. The group was trained by the Sisters of Divine Providence,
and they provided all of the music at the Toner auditorium and during Mass in the chapel.

Toner Institute Aerial image - 1939.
Aerial view from May 1939 shows Toner Institute's fifty acres on the hilltop south of Dorchester Avenue.

Toner Institute - 1940.
A collage entitled "Youngsters Find Happy Lives At Toner Institute" appeared in the April 27, 1940 Pittsburgh Press.

In April, 1940, the student population numbered 130 children of grade school age. Fifteen sisters were in charge of the teaching and domestic departments. To date, over 5000 boys had been trained by the institution. Although many outsiders considered Toner to be a monastery set away from the world, the Franciscan Fathers welcomed all visitors who wished to inspect the buildings and see the boys going about their daily activities.

Passing of Reverend Cratz

A sad day for the Brookline community, the sisters and friars that taught at the school, and the children of Toner Institute, occurred on September 24, 1940, when the Very Reverend Sigmund Cratz O.F.M.Cap passed away at the age of fifty-five.

Reverend Cratz had been the administrator of the institute since it's move to the South Hills of Pittsburgh in 1914. Under his direction, the Institute had grown and prospered, along with the thousands of children that benefited from his tutelage and guidance. Reverend Cratz was survived by his step-mother, Mrs. Felix Sonnefeld, of Brookline, and a sister, Mrs. Cora Altenhof, of Gary, Indiana.

Father Sigmund Memorial Hall

Reverend Regis P. Krah, one of the priests at Toner since 1925, was assigned as the third superintendent of the institute. In Reverend Cratz's honor, Bishop Boyle and Father Krah, on March 9, 1942, dedicated the $75,000 Father Sigmund Memorial Hall, a two-story building containing six classrooms, theatre, gymnasium, auditorium and library.

Toner Institute - Reverend Regis Krah - 1949
Reverend Regis Krah with a student in 1949.

Distinguished World War Veterans

During World War II, many former residents and students of Toner Institute served in the armed forces of the United States. One such student was Raymond J. Remp, who spent six years at Toner Institute before settling in a home with his brother Albert. Raymond fought through the battles of Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe.

MSgt. Remp, a member of the 24th Infantry Division, also served in the Korean War. During the initial stages of the struggle, he was taken prisoner. He managed to escape and make his way back to friendly lines, all the while carrying a wounded comrade along with him. On August 2, 1951, he returned to his family in the United States.

MSgt Raymond Remp
MSgt Raymond J. Remp welcomed home in 1951.

War service was not limited to students. Father Alan Patrick Madden, one of the instructors at the school, was a chaplain in the 28th Division who was reported missing in action in December 1944. He turned up as a prisoner of war in Germany. After the conflict ended, Father Madden returned to the institute.

Completion of Toner Campus

In September 1945, bids were taken for the construction of a $125,000 building designed as an infirmary and reception center. The two-story brick building contained three dormitory units, equipment for physicians and dentists, recreation rooms, and a finished basement.

The building connected to the administration building via an undergound passageway, so that patients could be moved to the infirmary without being taken outdoors. The dedication of this building marked the completion of the Toner Institute campus construction. In addition to the many modern buildings, the campus now included a large athletic field, swimming pool, playground, dairy and farm yard. The rest was grassy lawn and well-cultivated farm fields.

Reverand Krah's Military Theme

After World War II, in 1948, Reverend Krah adopted the tone of a military academy for the institute. The boys were taught the fundamentals of military drill and discipline. It soon became a common site at Brookline parades to see the finely dressed cadets marching in formation wearing their West Point style dress uniforms.

Students from Toner Institute flying kites - 1949
Flying kites on the hillside above Dorchester Avenue in 1949.

Aside from the military-type training, the boys led normal lives of study and play, along with their daily chores in the buildings or in the fields. The Institute fielded baseball and basketball teams in the Catholic School League. Other sports were offered, like swimming, boxing and track.

Additional activities included horseback riding, membership in a 35-piece band, a Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack. The Toner Institute boy's choir was one of the finest in the area, performing during Mass at the local Catholic churches on holidays and special occasions.

The Wayward Steer

On February 23, 1949, one of the institute's steers went AWOL and was found rambling through nearby Whitehall. The 700-pound animal had to be put down by the police. The kids received a special treat when a local butcher prepared man-sized portions of fresh steak to supplement the children's diet.

Silver Jubilee

The Silver Jubilee of Reverend Regis Krah as a priest at Toner Institute was celebrated on June 8, 1950. Three days of activities, benefits and festivities climaxed with a celebatory Mass conducted by Reverend Krah. The observance included a processional of priests and dignitaries from the administration building to the chapel, where the crowd was treated to a special musical presentation by the Toner Choir.

Toner Institute Golden Jubilee - 1950.
The processional heads towards the chapel for Reverend Krah's Silver Jubilee Mass on June 8, 1950.

Students from Toner Institute
going on a field trip - 1954
Cadets board a bus for one of their many field trips in 1954. Passes were granted to the boys for visits
to many of the attractions around the city, including stadium sporting events.

Memorial Day Parade - 1955
The Toner Institute cadets marching in the South Hills Memorial Day Parade in 1955.

Toner Institute Aerial image - 1957.
Aerial view from May 1957 shows Toner Institute's thirty-four acres on the hilltop south of Dorchester Avenue.
The adjacent South Hills Catholic High School can be seen under construction along McNeilly Road.

In May 1955, sixteen acres of Toner's land bordering McNeilly Road was sold to the Diocese of Pittsburgh for the construction of South Hills Catholic High School. The remaining thirty-four acres remained part of the institution.

Succession of Superintendents

Then, on September 30, 1957, tragedy struck Toner Institute once more when Father Regis Krah passed away suddenly. Father Krah had been with the institution for thirty-two years, the past seventeen as superintendent.

Father Louis Glantz.
Father Louis Glantz

Father Louis Glantz, once a student at Toner Institute and now a Capuchin Friar, assumed the role of superintendent. His tenure lasted only a short eighteen months. Father Glantz, age 45, suffered a fatal heart attack on May 24, 1959 while on a visit to Cumberland, Maryland. Father Marcellus Fuller then took charge as the institution's fifth superintendent. Father Fuller was followed in 1962 by Father Linus Doemling.

Toner Institute - Military Review - 1961
The cadets of Toner Institute staged a full dress military review on June 12, 1961,
with representatives of the armed services as reviewing officers.

The Toner Choir performed at
Loreto Church in 1961.
The Toner Institute Choir sang at Our Lady of Loreto Church in 1961.

Toner Institute Aerial image - 1967.
Aerial view from May 1967 shows Toner Institute's thirty-four acres on the hilltop south of Dorchester Avenue.

On July 13, 1967, Father Kevin Miller was named the seventh director of the institute. Eleven months later, as reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 9, 1968, Toner held it's 21st annual military review on the school grounds. Three officers and a sergeant from the 99th Army Reserve Command served as reviewing officers and judges for the sixty-five boys in the school's first through eighth grades.

Five-Alarm Fire Destroys Barn

Just four days after that review, on June 13, 1968, a five-alarm fire destroyed a three-story stable on the school grounds. The blaze was discovered only minutes after the institute's students had left the area for a picnic. Farm machinery and supplies valued at nearly $100,000 were destroyed. The stable itself had an estimated value of $35,000. Firemen, hampered by low water pressure, were able to save an adjoining barn and garage.

Sneakers, Blue Jeans and Shrinking Enrollment

In 1970, Toner Institute underwent some major policy changes. The military uniforms were replaced by sneakers and blue jeans. A marching unit gave way to a guitar group doing folk songs. The population was no longer all Catholic and the institute changed its focus from an orphanage to a home for boys with "mild" emotional problems, boys who were moderately disturbed and socially maladjusted, and youngsters with discipline and family problems.

Enrollment had shrunk to forty-seven boys from a peak of 160. Ten of these were high school age and the rest attended classes at the elementary school, now an ungraded class system with a maximum of six boys to a class. All teachers were now specialists in special education. Reverend Miller, the institute's director, was now responsible solely for financial matters and Kenneth Wagner named school principal. The school received $12.50 per day for each child, which was less than half the required $30 per day to provide basic care.

Cash Crisis and School Closing

On October 17, 1975, Father Miller and the Capuchin Order withdrew from Toner Institute after sixty-two years. Henry J. Palmieri, former director of the diocese's Bureau of Child-Caring Institutions, was named Executive Director. A year later, on October 8, 1976, Bishop Vincent Leonard appointed Reverend Ronald L. Kneram as Palmieri's replacement.

Reverend Ronald Kneram
Reverend Ronald L. Kneram

The cash crisis reached it's zenith in 1977, when the cost of providing each boy with food, clothing, recreation, care and on-campus education by special teachers on Toner's staff of seventy-eight reached $55 per student, with subsidies from the state and county totalling only $23 per student. Fundraising campaigns were insufficient and the institute was operating at a $300,000 annual loss. On April 5, the board of directors announced their decision to close the school.

Explaining the plans to close, Board President John Holland said, "The old congregate institutions built in the later part of the 19th and earlier part of the 20th centuries have become obsolete."

"Father, What Will Happen to You?"

Father Kneram, the ninth and final director of Toner Institute, looked around at the monastery-type buildings on the campus and said, "They may look cold, but some of the new types of institutions look sterile and cold, too. There's nothing cold about Toner because there's love here."

Toner Institute - Father Kneram - 1977
Father Kneram takes a stroll around the campus with a few of his students on April 5, 1977.

Then he recalled the boy's reactions when he told them the home must close. He said, "Those young fellows who came with a chip on their shoulder have learned to care so much about others that they just looked sad and asked, 'Father, what will happen to you?'"

After seventy-nine years, sixty-four of which were spent on the hilltop above Dorchester Avenue, the campus closed on June 30, 1977. The closure was a sad time indeed, but it did not tarnish the lasting legacy of the many thousands of young men who had benefited from the dedication and training of the Capuchin Fathers, the Sisters of Divine Providence, and others that had taught at Toner Institute.

NOTE: Father Ronald L. Kneram, who stayed on at Toner Institute until 1979 to oversee the administrative closing of the institution, passed away on February 18, 1980, less than a year after completing his assignment.

* Information gathered from, focusing on the four main Pittsburgh publications *

Written by Clint Burton - April 3, 2019

List of Toner Institute Directors (1899-1977)

Father Joseph Gerold * 1899-1911
Reverend Sigmund Cratz * 1911-1940
Reverend Regis Krah * 1940-1957
Reverend Louis Glantz * 1957-1959
Father Marcellus Fuller * 1959-1962
Father Linus Doemling * 1962-1967
Father Kevin Miller * 1967-1975
Henry J. Palmieri * 1975-1976
Reverend Ronald Kneram * 1976-1977

Bellevue Cadet Escapes As Plane Crashes In Brookline

The following image appeared in the January 12, 1936, Pittsburgh Press.
The caption read:

Blinded by fog and his radio "gone bad," Flying Cadet J. M. Rodgers, en route from Mitchell Field, N.Y., to the City-County Airport, narrowly missed Toner Institute buildings in Brookline last night as he brought his plane, an Army Boeing, to a crashing halt.

Toner Institute - Plane Crash 1936.

The entire Pittsburgh Press article:

Flier Forced Down By Fog

Ship Misses Toner Institute Building, Smashes Into Baseball Backstop

Running into a fog en route from Mitchell Field, New York, to the County Airport last night, Cadet Pilot J. M. Rodgers of Bellevue sent his plane low over a baseball field, ripped through the wire backstop, and brought his ship to a crashing halt just short of the Toner Institute buildings in Brookline.

The pilot left New York yesterday afternoon to visit his father, State Senator William B. Rodgers of Bellevue. The fog, which started as he crossed the Alleghenies, deepened as he flew on, and he found himself "flying blind."

Low on gas, he landed his ship on the first available open stretch of land. The plane ripped of a wing as it crashed, but the pilot stepped from the plane unhurt.

Young Rodgers was flying an army biplane. He had been en route five and a half hours, having stopped at Allentown.

Scores of students from the institute and other residents of the Dorchester Avenue neighborhood heard the plane roaring overhead and went out to watch the pilot's maneuvering. The ship narrowly missed one of the spires of the institute's main building.

The photo below was submitted by Annette Liscio of Dallas, Texas. It shows the Toner Institute boys at Confirmation in the Spring of 1940. Annette's brother-in-law, John Liscio, is shown in the top row, sixth from left. The son of Italian immigrants, John was born June 27, 1926. He lived in the Homewood-Brushton area with five brothers and a sister, including Annette's future husband Tony.

Toner Institute - Confirmation 1940.

John was accepted into Toner through assignment from the juvenile courts. In February 1943, at the age of 16, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He listed his birthdate as 1925 so he could be eligible.

As a member of the 4th Marine Division, John fought at the battles of Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. A decorated veteran, John returned to Pittsburgh after the war and settled in Homewood, where he married and raised a family. John Liscio passed away in June 1989.

NOTE: John's brother Anthony Liscio played football for Westinghouse High School and went on to a nine year professional career with the Dallas Cowboys from 1963-1972.

"So You Want To Be Cowboys"

The following images appeared in the October 18, 1940, Pittsburgh Press
and Post-Gazette. The P-G caption read:

Here are four tired, hungry, cold and very dirty boys who ran away from Toner Institute in Brookline Monday night to see again the Rodeo that police and the Grotto are staging this week at the Point Breeze Circus Grounds. The boys were guests at Monday's matinee. Gathered up along the waterfront yesterday, the four shivering boys have spent the past three nights in Hill District alleys. Shown here at the Central station, where they identified themselves to Magistrate William D. McClelland, are James Ritson, 13, William Owens, 11, and the 11-year old Kurtac twins, Raymond and Joseph. They were released and sent back to their foster home.

Toner Institute - Runaways 1940.    Toner Institute - Runaways 1940.

NOTE: There were several references in the local newspapers to children and teenagers that ran away from Toner Institute for one reason or another. Not every article was complimentary regarding the actions of those that fled, but the majority noted that the boys were found healthy and safe by authorities and returned to the school.

Toner Institute Takes Up Boxing

The following image appeared in the September 29, 1942, Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph.
The caption read:

ZIVIC IDOL - The boys of the Toner Institute in Brookline have taken up boxing as their lastest sport and all because Fritzie Zivic, the former welterweight champion, is their idol. Zivic has furnished them with gloves and other equipment and the night he boxed Red Cochrane recently all of the boys stayed up late to hear the broadcast of the bout. They were thrilled by their hero's victory. Fritzie is shown here refereeing a bout between Thomas Furge and Bernard Held. Note the tense expressions and actions of some of the boys as they follow the action.

Toner Institute - Boxing 1942.

NOTE: Fritzie Zivic continued to be a champion to the boys at Toner, both in and out of the ring. He made several trips to the institute to meet with the kids. He inspired many to take up boxing, and several of the Toner cadets went on to become Golden Gloves champions. Fritzie made sure that the boys were present at the yearly Golden Gloves finals, as witnessed by the following two photos, taken during the 1948 (left) and 1949 boxing championships.

Toner Institute - 1948 Golden Gloves.    Toner Institute - 1949 Golden Gloves.

Amateur Baseball Day Gets Boost At Toner Institute

The following image appeared in the September 1, 1943, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The caption read:

Helping to promote the big amateur baseball day at Forbes Field, Art Rooney, a former minor league baseball star, and a ranking amateur in this section, went out yesterday to Toner Institute, in Brookline, to arrange to have the lads out there attend the big doings at Forbes Field. The picture shows Rooney, head of the Old Steelers, and boxing promoter, distributing free tickets to the kids. They didn't have to be coaxed judging from the clamor shown here.

Toner Institute - Art Rooney visit - 1943.

NOTE: The boys at Toner Institute fielded several championship baseball, basketball and boxing teams over the years. They also participated in other sports, like swimming and track. Thanks to the generosity of men like Art Rooney and Fritzie Zivic, sports were always a large part of the experience of growing up at Toner Institute.

TONER ... A Happy Home For Homeless Boys

The following article appeared in the February 20, 1949, Pittsburgh Press

Not all boys have a home.

Death, misfortune and delinquent parents deprive them of this precious heritage. Through no fault of their own, these boys are thrust into a world where everything comes the hard way. They lack the affection and guidance so necessary to a happy boyhood. Too frequently a reformatory of pententiary becomes home to these "displaced" boys.

But on a Brookline hilltop farm of fifty acres, 150 homeless boys enjoy a happy home life at Toner Institute. There, Sisters of Divine Providence and priests of the Capuchin Franciscan Order cater to their needs. Institutional life and its monotony have been almost eliminated, and the boys live and learn and play together as one big, happy family.

A newcomer to Toner quickly forgets he is homeless. He is soon involved in activities that leave him tired but happy as each day ends. Most of the boys come from broken homes. Many have lost a father or mother. Few are orphans. For admittance a boy must be six to fourteen years of age, have normal intelligence and no defects requiring special treatment.

The newcomer is give a warm welcome by Father Regis Krah, the superintendent, who has been at Toner for over twenty years. Boy and man talk things over, learn how to know each other. The boy is made to feel that he is important.

But he doesn't have too much time to think about this new importance. Three older boys take him into their group.

They get him up at 7:30am. They help him make his bed, see that he washes behind his ears and brushes his teeth. They go to breakfast and sit together. Here the new boy learns table manners, learns to say "thank you" and "you're welcome," plus other etiquette. At 9:15am, his big brothers take him to school. They pick him up again at 11:15am when the big meal is served. Everything is home style.

Toner Institute - 1949.

School resumes at 1:00pm; ends at 3:45pm. After a snack and a glass of milk he is free to play, ride the ponies, go swimming, join the basketball squad, a baseball team, play touch football or romp with some of the seventeen dogs on the campus. At 5:15pm he stands at attention as the big brothers lower the U.S. flag. Chow time is at 5:30pm. After more recreation or a music lesson the younger boys prepare for bed at 7:00pm. Older boys study or continue their games. Taps sound at 9:30pm.

Sooner or later the new boy is assigned to KP duty or to one of the cleanup squads. That's okay for he likes to live in a clean, neat home, where he has a bed to himself and a wardrobe different from his companions. And he's on the payroll, can earn a nickel to a half-dollar a week.

Of course, boys will be boys. Those who violate regulations lose points which may deprive them of a visit with relatives or a week-end liberty to see a show. There is no physical punishment. But Father Regis has something more effective - being fired from the payroll for a day or a week in the doghouse. Boys in the doghouse must sit in back of the movie screen when there is a show. They can hear the program but cannot see it.

To carry on the work at Toner, Father Regis and the sisters depend on contributions. It's the dollar donations from individuals that make it possible for the boys to get a good start in life.

"Plus a lot of prayer and a lot of thoughts," added Father Regis.

Buster Crabbe Thrills Toner Institute Boys

The following images appeared in the June 24, 1955, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The caption read:

The boys at Toner Institute in Brookline were thrilled yesterday when Buster Crabbe, the former Olympic swim champ, paid them a visit while awaiting the opening today of the Post-Gazette Dapper Dan Sports and Vacation Show at South High School Stadium.

Toner Institute - Buster Crabbe 1955.

A Flag To Remember

The following images appeared in the November 10, 1960, Pittsburgh Press.
The caption read:

A flag to remember is given to the cadets of Toner Institute, Brookline, by Representative James G. Fulton of Dormont. The banner, which flew over the nation's capitol on July 4, 1960, when Hawaii became the 50th State, is accepted by (from left) Army Major Harry Brown, medical procurement officer; Cadet Thomas Mattingly, Cadet Major Sam Luick and 1st Lieutenant John Q. Adams, of the Pittsburgh Army recruiting office.

Toner Institute - 1960.

Today, the hilltop area where the Toner Institute campus once stood is the site of
The Devonshire of Mount Lebanon, a Senior assisted-living highrise complex.

The Devonshire of Mount Lebanon.

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