A Baby Boomer's Scrapbook
Grades 8 and 9: Northeast Junior High
memory of 8th grade at Northeast blurs together with 9th
grade and I canít separate them in time. I
remember what seems like long, and often cold, bus rides to school where we were
dropped off to spend the first several minutes in the morning waiting in the
cafeteria for classes to start. I think we had enough time to read or do
homework but I think I mostly spent my time just looking around. There was always a teacher there to
monitor our behavior and I donít think we were able to get away with much
mental impression today is that,
classes I remember are Metal Shop, Art, English, some sort of government class,
a math class that taught Algebra and Geometry, Science and Phys Ed.
Shop seemed to be the place to go if you were destined to be a blue-collar
worker. As you might expect, all of the kids that took that class were boys and,
while most of them were interested in the metal casting process so that they
could make knives out of broken hack so blades and cast fancy handles on them, I
made a dustpan and a footstool. I guess that was probably a sign that I wasnít
quite as macho (not a word that we used back then) as the other guys.
Art class I made a piece of jewelry that eventually was sent to some art exhibit
and came back with a yellow ribbon attached that said ĎHonorable Mentioní. I remember being amused at the time
because it was mounted in the display box backwards with the backside showing
instead of brightly polished front side. It was a pendant and, when I designed
it, I never thought about the probability of it spinning on a neck chain where
any side could be seen so I only finished one side. It was a good lesson in
design that stuck with me.
remember helping to layout, cut and assemble a ceramic mural, which was destined
for a large wall near the front entrance to the school. I think that process
took most of a school year.
Art teacherís name was Mr. Hopfensburger. Everyone called him ďMr. HopĒ.
It is easy for me to remember him because he was short (like me), enthusiastic
was a boy in class who, as a Mad Magazine fanatic, could easily and quickly draw
any Mad Magazine character. I think
his name was Richard Staehling and he got along well with Mr. Hop because he was
so talented. Unfortunately, he seemed a little too aware of how good he was and
was often an arrogant jerk to those whose work he thought didnít meet his
standards. I donít know why I remember him. Perhaps I was a victim of one of
his off hand remarks about my own work.
have another reason to remember Mr. Hop. One day in 1985, while I was on a
business trip to the Hughes Helicopter plant in
memory of the government class consists of a mock Presidential election in 1960.
I donít know if
two reasons that I can think of, a class that I didnít like was English. The
first is that the female teacher had a regular habit of clearing her throat into
a Kleenex and then throwing the tissue in the wastebasket. I donít know if she
had a medical problem but she did it so often that by the end of each class the
wastebasket would look half full and after a while it got to be kind of
disgusting. The second reason that I didnít like her was that it was her
decision that kept me from taking a foreign language class in the 9th
grade because my English grades werenít good enough in the 8th. Her judgment probably made sense
according to the rules of the game but I didnít like it much at the time.
think I remember the math class for being public chided by the teacher for
either not doing well on a geometry test or not turning in some geometry
homework or both. Whatever the reason, I didnít like that class either.
class that I did like was Science. The
teacher had a cage with snakes in it and he bred and raised a lot of mice. I
think he was raising the mice to see what kind of colors and patterns he could
get from selective breeding but, in hindsight, although he wouldnít do it
until after school, he may have been breeding them just to feed the snakes.
Feeding the snakes seemed to be a problem because those rascals wouldnít eat
anything unless it moved. I remember more than once after a rain, if there were
night crawlers and worms or frogs out on the sidewalk trying to escape the
water, he asked us to go out and gather some up as snake food.
dissection day was probably straight out of the movie ĎETí except that
Elliot was not there to advocate for ďFrog FreedomĒ. Iím afraid, on that
day at least, all of those poor frogs really did perish in the interest of
next to the Science classroom was the Audio Visual Lab where the movie
projectors and tape recorders were kept. I
was one of the kids that volunteered for AV Lab to set up and run projectors and
show all of those wonderful education films that we all got to watch every now
and then. I did that for an hour each day instead of going to Study Hall.
Whether they were any good or not, the best thing about the movies was that they
were usually better than listening to the teacher.
of the movies that I set up was especially memorable. As I was threading the
film in the projector in the girlís gym, several girls walked out of the
locker room before they had their tops on and buttoned. They didnít notice me
until they were almost to the bleachers and when they did see me, turned around
and ran back to the locker room, screaming all the way. I didnít know what
else to do at that point so I finished getting the projector ready to run. A
minute or so later, the teacher came out and politely told me that I could go
and that she would run the projector. Yeah, I know, it doesnít seem very
interesting now but, at the time, it made for a real good story to the other
boys in AV group.
probably remember the most about Phys Ed. This was the first time Iíd ever
been in a locker room situation where everyone showered together and, as you can
imagine, there was a lot of mental
was lots of just plain
that Iíve brought up the subject of girls and dancing, Iíd like to bring up
the subject of my Junior High love life. Iíd
like to bring it upÖ but Iím afraid I didnít have one. Now I donít know if I can blame my
unfulfilled desire for a love life entirely to my size but, at that age, girls
are growing faster than boys and not only was I about the shortest boy in school
but I was shorter than almost all the girls as well. Of course, we canít really rule out
just plain old bad breath and body odor.
course, to put my size problem in perspective, there was a kid with only one
leg. When playing softball, he was a good hitter but, because of his wooden leg,
he often got tagged out while trying to run the bases. As he was growing during the school year,
it was obvious that his wooden leg had be
short wasnít really that big a problem after I noticed that.
in all, I donít think my time at Northeast was particularly happy or
memorable. I think I had the same
problem at Midland High in the 10th grade but Iíll talk about that
in the next chapter. Not too many low points but not too many high ones either.
I guess you could call them my ďProzacĒ years.
Woodruff tried to help me with her 8th grade yearbook but I donít
have a yearbook from either the 8th or 9th grades so,
without the pictures in my hand to jog my memory, Iíve left out a list of
names for the people I should have remembered in these classes..