A Baby Boomer's Scrapbook
Grades 11 and 12 at
In the summer of 1962, about 9 weeks
after a diagnosis of stomach cancer and an unsuccessful surgery, my Grandpa
Of all my brothers and sister, I was
chosen to live with Grandma because Mr. Anthony,
While Iím on the subject of getting
back and forth to school, Iíll mention one thing that I remember about the bus
rides after I moved back home from Grandmaís house. We used to play cards on
the way home. Although there may have been more, I remember two of them, a game
called ďEuchreĒ and a game called ďPepperĒ. Other than the cold, I donít remember
much else about the bus rides.
Back to Grandmaís.
Living alone with Grandma was a major
life style change for me. After growing up as the oldest kid in a house full of kids (5 brothers
and 1 sister), being treated like an only child was a dream
At home, although Mom did all the
laundry and fixed all the meals, I had to iron most of my school clothes. While
I was with her, Grandma did that for me. At home, I had to pack my own lunch,
Grandma did that for me too.
The best part was the meals. For
breakfast at home, Iíd usually fix myself a bowl of cold cereal before I got
on the bus. At Grandmaís house, when I got up she had a hot bowl of oatmeal or
cream of wheat or cream of rice waiting for me and, if I was still hungry, she
would fix eggs and bacon or sausage or ham and toast or whatever else my little
tummy desired. At suppertime, unlike
at home with 9 people at the table, I didnít have to scramble for the last
scoop of peas or potatoes or macaroni and cheese and, at Grandmaís there was
always a second helping left if I wanted it.
Best of all, although it was one of
my regular chores at home, at Grandmaís house, I never had to do the dishes.
Another big change from home was that
I had the bathroom all to myself. I didnít have to share the sink to wash up
or brush my teeth. At home, when we took a bath, several kids in a row had to
use the same water because our hot water heater didnít have enough capacity
for more than a tub or two in one night. At Grandmaís, I had the tub or shower
all to myself.
Although about the only programs that
had it at the time were Bonanza and Walt Disney, Grandma also had a color TV and
I didnít even have to fight with her over what channel to watch.
Except for the temporary
disconnection from the neighborhood kids that I would have ridden to school with
on the bus, I had it real good. I did ride the bus home on Fridays, though so I
could spend the weekend at home.
Anyway, time to go to school.
Over the years, some people have told
me that their high school experiences were terrible and that they wouldnít
want to relive them for all the money in the world. The opposite is true for me. Given the
opportunity to do it all again, I might like to change a few things but, even if
I couldnít, Iíd gladly repeat the experience, even the occasional emotional
pain that went along with the emotional highs. It could be that my memory of
things past is much better than the way I felt at the time, but I think that
Meridian High from í62 through í64, the Ď64/í65 school year at Utah
State and the months I spent working and playing in the Midland area before I
had to leave in 1966 were some of the best times of my life.
My memories are somewhat fragmented so Iíve had to lump 11th and 12th grades
together because I am no longer sure about the sequence of some of the events. A
review of the í64 yearbook helps some but not quite enough. As I write them
down, I hope what I remember and record here is not too far from reality but, if I make
mistakes about people or events, or say something about someone that they would
prefer was left unsaid, I hope I will be forgiven. At this point in my life,
Iím lucky to remember whether I did something yesterday or I did it last week. I guess thatís just a problem, as we
grow older, that
we just have to live with.
I donít know why I remember it but
on one of the first, if not my first day at
Since Mr. Anthony and I almost always
got to school before the buses arrived, I usually went Mr. Anthonyís room
first and helped him set up the room for the dayís classes. Although I would
occasionally try to engage Mr. Anthony in a little conversation, he seldom said
much. We would sometimes talk about cars (something that both big boys and
little boys had, and still have, in
Riding to school with him every day
did change my perspective of teachers. Before spending so much time with him, I
thought of teachers as sort of special, like doctors or judges. You know, people that you were expected
to respect and revere because of their station in life. After I got to know him, Mr. Anthony
seemed more like an uncle or a next-door neighbor. Since he was not too long out
of college, I started to realize that he (and some of the other young teachers
that we had) was only a few years older than us high school kids and still
almost as much in the process of learning about life as we were. Although some
(like the coach) could get little pushy at times, teachers were not as
intimidating to me from then on.
Because it was so small relative to
The classes that
Of all the classes in school, the one
that sticks in my head most is gym class. Maybe
I remember gym class so much because of the routine. Change clothes, exercise,
play some game, exercise, shower, play grab-ass in the locker room and change
clothes again, every day, day after day. Couldíve
been the smells. Itís hard to
forget a locker room. Or maybe it was just because we spent so much time in the
gym itself. Gym class, assemblies, basketball games or other after school events
and dancing or just fooling around at lunchtime after we ate. Donít know for
The cafeteria - library - study hall
was kind of the same as the Gym. We
spent lots of time there too.
I never did much studying in study
hall, too many distractions. It was easy to find a place to sit near or next to
a girl. Even if guy was shy, he
could pretend he was just there to study when he was really just there to look
or tease. Although I hate to admit
it, sexual harassment wasnít beyond me at that point and in study hall I
would, nerd like, occasionally sit across from a girl a low cut blouse or V
necked sweater and try to lob small wads of paper at her cleavage. Juvenile
behavior to be sure but, since no girl ever smiled and ripped open her shirt to
give me a better target, I must have eventually figured out that it wasnít as
cute as I thought and quit doing it.
The library seemed to have so few
books that I quickly went through most of ones of most interest to me that,
after a while, I usually only wandered through the stacks so I wouldnít have
to sit quietly at a table during study hall.
As for the cafeteria, I almost always
brought my own lunch and only bought milk but I loved the dinner rolls and
whenever I had some extra change would buy as many as I could.
I donít know what artsy things I did in art class but I do remember who I did artsy things with most of the time. Although I wish I could say otherwise because Iím trying to convince my 16 year old daughter that school is more important than boys, but for me, at that point in my life, girls were more important than school. So I always tried to sit with girls. There were only tables and no desks that I remember so we usually sat four or five around a table and it was easy to work and talk to each other at the same time. As long as we didnít get too loud or rowdy, Mr. Anthony would let us do tha
I didnít like Mr. Wardís class
very much. That was probably because he expected us to do more work that I
really wanted to do but I'm pretty sure the extra effort he required was good for me
even if I didnít work very hard at it.
Early on, he decided to try an
experiment and asked us to tell him what grade we should get in his class and
that would be the grade that heíd give us for that grading period. I figured I was good for at least a
ďBĒ and thatís what I told him. Unfortunately, he didnít quite keep his
word. Just before report card time Mr. Ward came to me and saidÖ ďMax,
Iíve been looking over your work and it looks to me that, if you were honest,
youíd agree with me that you only deserve a ďCĒ for your efforts. I will
keep my promise and give you a ďBĒ if you say so but I really think that you
only did ďCĒ work. What do you think?Ē
I took a ďCĒ.
That was an interesting lesson but
Mr. Ward did teach me with something practical that served me well in every
class I ever took from then on: How to take any multiple-choice test.
Somewhere along the line, he had
learned the psychology involved in writing multiple choice tests and he decided
to pass along a few simple rules on how to take them so you could
If one of the answers is ďall of the aboveĒ, choose it.
If one of the answers is ďnone of the aboveĒ, donít choose it.
Choose the longest answer.
Donít choose the shortest answer.
As a last resort, choose answer (b) because it is correct 40% of the
There are more good rules but I
donít remember them all any more. I may have eventually gotten these rules
from someone else but, having had to continue going to school off and on for
most of my life, I ought to be forever grateful to Mr. Ward for telling me about
them early on. Of course, Mr. Ward never gave us a multiple choice test while I
was in his class.
I remember Mr. Goretskiís shop
class mostly as a major lesson in safety hazard control or the lack thereof.
Shop tools can do serious injury in the hands of a high school student and I
think there were at least a few very close calls.
A popular thing to do in shop was to
make metal bowls by spinning them over a wood form on a lathe. If you pushed a
little to hard or long with the forming tool at the wrong place or wrong time, a
very sharp piece of metal would go flying across the room at a fairly high
velocity. It didnít take more than one or two of those sheet metal missiles
for me to learn where not to stand whenever someone was attempting to create one
of those potentially life threatening works of art.
In Science class, Mr. Spencer was
sometimes sort of a jerk and did his best to do something to embarrass you if
did something that he didnít like. I never saw it but I think I remember
stories of him making a kid push a wad of gum across the floor if caught chewing
As a track coach, he a pretty good
guy and was more like a big brother than a teacher but, for some reason, he had
a different personality in science class. Iím probably wrong but even though I
think he liked to coach, I donít think he liked to teach.
One grading period he gave me an
ĎFí that I didnít think I deserved (my first ever) just to get my
attention (I didnít finish a project but I added all the points and should
have gotten at least a ĎDí) and although I worked a little harder after
that, the next grading period he gave me an ĎAí that I didnít deserve
because I think he figured out that he got my attention. I guess the technique
worked on me but I thought it was kind of a strange thing to do at the time.
One thing I did like about Science
class was I sat next to a girl for a while and it was easy to play footsy.
Whenever Iíd catch her dangling a shoe from her toe, Iíd try to kick it off.
I think Mr. Spencer caught me doing that and gave made us sit apart from then
on. Do you suppose thatís one reason why I thought he was a sometimes a jerk?
Mr. Reid was kind ofÖ well,
different. I think he started out at
Considering that photo, it seems
ironic that I was in Mr. Reidís class on the day it was announced over the PA
system that President Kennedy had been shot. I think Mr. Reid took it pretty
hard and all class work ended after that news.
We didnít have to sit in too many
of his classes for a few of us guys to figure out that Mr. Reid could be pretty
easily distracted from the English topic at hand. Whenever we could, we would
try to get him off on a tangent and talk about hunting, fishing or sports or
whatever we thought he might be interested in. This was an easy way to waste
several minutes of class at a time and if we timed it right, he might even
forget about it or run out of time to give us a homework assignment.
I donít remember for sure, but I
wouldnít be surprised if we did the same sort of thing to him in his Study
Hall. You know, have someone distract him at one end of the room while others
did something foolish on the other.
Extra Curricular Activities:
I did try out for sports a couple of
times. There was no football in the Ď62/í63 school year so I missed my
calling there. As short as I was though, I did try out for basketball when the
season started. Although I couldnít shoot, couldnít dribble or couldnít
pass I think I was otherwise very good at basketball. Unfortunately, what got me
cut from tryouts was a jump test. The coach put a piece of masking tape on the
wall about 8 or 9 feet up and we all had to be able to touch the wall above the
tape. Good friend Bob Davids was able to pass of course because he was so much
taller than me (at least an inch). Iím sure I would have had a brilliant
basketball career if I had just been able to jump high enough to pass that test.
In the spring of that year, I tried
out for baseball and, being marginally better at that than at basketball, I made
the team. The school didnít have a good baseball diamond so the team was often
bussed to a park or a field at another school. I had trouble staying late for
practice so I was kind of invisible and when I was able to get to a game, I
always sat on the bench. I did manage to play one time. Iím not sure who we
played (I think it was with the Midland J.V. team) but we played at a park
In the Ď63/í64 school year did
have football but I donít know why I didnít try out for that. Could have
been that I was just a wimp.
Rather than try Baseball again, in
the spring of í64 I decided to try the Track Team, even though it meant hitch
hiking home every night that we had practice. I only could go fast enough for
short distances so Coach Spencer put me on the 440-yard relay team. We may not
have won but I think I held my own during the first race or two with other
schools. I messed up though when, in one practice session, I didnít warm up
enough and pulled a leg muscle. I didnít run in race again until the last
event of the season (which we also lost).
I remember the track practice
sessions pretty well. In addition to practice sprints and hurdles, every night
we had to run north on M30 for about a mile, then run south for two miles and
then back to the school. Bob Davids was also on the track team and I often ran
with him. He was a very good athlete
but I never understood why he wanted to be on the track team. Almost every time
we would make that three-mile run, Bob would have to stop and throw up on the
way back. After he threw up, he was fine but I donít think that I would have
continued to keep going like that if Iíd had the same problem. Bob was a
pretty tough kid.
Although some of the guys were very
good in their track events, as a team, I donít think we did all that well and
I donít think that I was the only one who was surprised when the coach
announced that we would be going to the state championships at Central Michigan.
Unfortunately, runniní with the big boys from other schools at this event only
demonstrated one thing to me, my career as a track star was over.
I had the first leg of our first
relay race. The track was 6 or 8 lanes wide and, as you may know, the starting
blocks in each lane are staggered behind each other to account for the larger
radius of the outside lanes. I was
about a foot shorter than the big black guy in the next lane but he started out
several yards behind me so I figured I at least had a chance to keep up with
him. For a few seconds after the gun went off, I was pumpiní my little legs as
fast as they would go and thought I was doing well when out of the corner of my
eye, I saw the black guy
Letís see, failed baseball player,
rock star, artist, editor, mathematician, basketball player and failed Olympic
gold medallist. It was beginning to look like my list of career options was
getting pretty short.
I did enjoy jumpiní on the
trampoline though and joined the Trampoline Club. Relatively speaking, I was
pretty good at bouncing around. Had it been a
Dancing in the hall and in the gym at
lunchtime was probably my favorite thing to do during the day at school. I
wanted it real bad, so my dad helped me buy a reel-to-reel tape recorder from
the Sears & Roebuck store in downtown
I tried not to miss attending any of
the ball games because, like everyone else I had friends on the team that I
wanted to cheer on, I wanted to be with friends and, at the home games, dance in
the gym or the cafeteria after the game. I
know we almost never won and I donít remember much in particular but I really
had a good time at all of the games that I went to.