Monday, October 01, 2007

Five Question Challenge – School Memories

Today is the beginning of Family History Month in the United States, and Juliana Smith at 24/7 Family History Circle has proffered a challenge - to answer five questions each week on a specific topic. You can read all about it at Five Question Challenge–School Memories and although I'm not sure if I will respond to each weekly challenge I thought I'd take on this first one. . .

What was your favorite subject in school?
Literature. I enjoyed "getting lost" in someone else's travels and adventures. Still do, though I would like to travel more myself and see the world firsthand. I liked biographies as well as the travel and adventure tales too.

In what extra-curricular activities did you participate? Sports? Drama? Music? Academics?
G.A.A. - Girls Athletic Association. This was at a time before girls were allowed to participate in school sports so it was an intramural, after school activity. Basketball was played with six members from each team on the court at one time, with two "rovers" per team that could run the full court. The other four team members could only play in their half of the court. We could play volleyball and softball, but not baseball. At the time I went to school, football wasn't even being played by the high schools in our area. That didn't come about until the small local schools in the area were consolidated into one large school in the late 1960's.

Even though I was very shy and had extreme stage fright while competing in speech club tournaments, I loved our class plays. I didn't have a problem with taking on the persona of someone else and becoming that person, after all, it wasn't me up there on that stage it was the person I was portraying. In our Junior class play I was given the part of "Happy Stella Kowalski" who was the female leader of an all male band in the play "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis". It was a hoot. I don't remember the name of our Senior class play, my role was a small one but I was an Indian maiden and had to dye my hair black. It wasn't near as much fun as the Junior class play.

During high school I worked in a restaurant most evenings and weekends but was still able to participate in some other school activities including Science Club as a Freshman, Spanish Club in my Junior year (after having gone on a two week school sponsored trip to Mexico in the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year), Speech Club as a Senior, G.A.A. and Pep Club all four years, School newspaper staff the first three years and Annual Staff in my Senior year. I was a part-time receptionist in the school office during my junior year. And then there was F. H. A. (Future Homemakers Club) in the first two years.

Did you go on field trips, and if so, what was your most memorable field trip?
In third grade we went to the Shrine Circus at the Coliseum in Fort Wayne. This was something that all of the schools in northeast Indiana did. It was always in the spring. The buses would be chaperoned by State Police cars and would meet up at the main highway (U. S. 30) and form a long caravan. A box lunch would be provided. It was all very exciting. I'm pretty sure this is a tradition that is carried on yet today. I remember that a few years ago I happened to be in Fort Wayne at the time of the Shrine Circus and being stopped at a signal light for what seemed like a long time while bus after bus went through the intersection into the Coliseum parking lot.

Up until our senior year, all of the senior classes at North Webster High School had taken a week-long senior trip to Washington D. C. I don't recall the reason we were not allowed to go, I think it had something to do with the fact that the schools were being consolidated but we were extremely disappointed. Instead of a week-long trip we were allowed to take a one-day excursion to Chicago. The Museum of Science and Industry, Historical Museum, Navy Pier, downtown, etc. It was fun but it wasn't a real trip.

What teacher influenced you the most?
In elementary school, it would be Mrs. Gunter in fourth grade - for whatever reason, I became her "pet" project that year. She looked after me and gave me encouragement when I was struggling. For the first time in my life I felt like I was somebody. I wasn't Doug's sister, or Ginny's daughter, I was just me and it was the beginning of discovering who I am. Of course, that is still an ongoing process, even 50 years later.

In High School, Mrs. Harvout, the English and Speech teacher, encouraged my writing and my ambition to be a school teacher. It was through her literature classes that new worlds were opened and provided a mechanism for escaping to other realities. Even though I never became a school teacher, I think she would be proud of what I have accomplished, especially the fact that I can stand up in front of an audience and speak without trembling. In fact, I think she would be amazed. I know I am, especially when I think back to what I was like in high school.

Did you buy a lunch at school, or bring one from home? What kind of lunchbox? What was your favorite lunch?
While in elementary school, school lunches were less expensive and less trouble if bought at school. Of course, this was when lunches were actually cooked on site in the cafeteria so they were hot and filling and nearly as good as home-cooked meals. Once in high school, more options opened up. We were actually allowed to go off the school grounds at lunch time. I'd usually eat in the cafeteria but about once a week would splurge and go downtown. Keep in mind that this was, and still is, a small town. It was about a mile from one end of town to the other, but downtown was only about four blocks long!

The best and closest eatery within walking distance was the drug store just three blocks from school. They had a long bar with about 20-25 stools and several booths that would seat six people easily. Most of the time it was standing room only though. The hot dogs were delicious and the sodas and shakes were the best. Even better than those at the restaurant where I worked on the south edge of town. If you were lucky enough to have a car you could also go to the north end of town to Penguin Point. That was the hangout for all of the upperclassmen. And was the "in" spot for meeting people during the summer.

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