Just in time for my 60th birthday, my Highland Park, Illinois classmates created a Facebook nostalgia site. One of our former teachers is on there too. I’ve been wallowing in memories.
In elementary school, we walked home for lunch at noon and came back at 1:15 for another two hours. The lucky ones at Ravinia could go to Shelton’s, a nearby diner that everyone remembers. We had gym every day with Mr. Dewey who started us off with military drill: Attention! Right face! Left face! At ease! Once a year, Dr. Zipper and his orchestra performed a concert in the gym. According to rumor, the Nazis had broken his fingers for spite, turning him from a pianist to a conductor. This gave him great cachet. (It’s not in his bio, though he was imprisoned in Dachau for a year and, after fleeing to the Philippines, imprisoned by the Japanese. Lived to 92.)
All the Edgewood alums remember pushing chairs off the risers in music class. We’d persuaded the teacher that “sympathetic vibrations” from the music were causing chairs to jump spontaneously. Or perhaps there was a fault beneath the school and the building was settling. Even when a chair was pushed off with a girl still in it, our veteran teacher, didn’t suspect human agency. She also didn’t realize that sending miscreants to the supply room wasn’t a punishment. They climbed out the window and up on the roof, where they lounged for the rest of the period.
Fifteen years after I earned my diploma, Highland Park High was included in The Good High School, by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a Harvard education professor. I was surprised to learn that administrators described our involved, education-valuing parents as pushy.
The latest thread recalls that people didn’t lock their homes in Highland Park. We didn’t think it was necessary.
Our parents — nearly all of us had two — had moved to the suburbs “for the sake of the children.” It was a very secure world in the ’50s and early ’60s.