Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall and Gateway Regional

Perhaps I should tell you more about my new school.  Not the bickering and backbiting and meanderings of seventh graders but what my school looked like.  Gateway was brand new.  Brand motherfucking new.  We had new lockers, new hallways, new teachers, new desks, and new classes.  Instead of Science we had Earth Science.  Instead of History we had Social Studies.  Instead of Reading or Language Arts we had English.  And we had to learn a new language.  You got to pick your language.  I picked French.  
We also had new desks.  The desks in Wenonah Elementary were old school.  Wooden desks that were separate from the chairs.  Desks that opened up and you put your books in them.  Your books sat there all year unless you took them home for homework cuz you had the same seat all year long.  Gateway had desks attached to chairs.  The desks in Wenonah had been carved up and inked by years and years of students.  Gateway and its desks were clean and free of taint.
Gateway was laid out like a grid.  A long rectangle with a center entrance.  At one end was the Auditorium and flanking that Wood Shop and Home Economics.  At the other end the Cafeteria.  Just before the Cafeteria was the Gym.  The Gym had a huge dividing wall that could be opened for athletic events but was closed during gym classes because boys and girls did not exercise together except on rare occasions.  God knows where that might lead.
This was an era where sports were the province of boys.  The important sports were all boys; boys football, hardball, basketball, wrestling and track.  Girls could do field hockey, girls basketball (note the "girls" in girls basketball), and softball.  They might have had track but I doubt it.
The school had two floors and if I recall was divided in quadrants by class.  Seventh graders were on the 2nd floor.  I have no idea where everyone else was.  
Our principal was Charles Korkuch and our superintendent was John Lelko.  God only knows what a superintendent did then.  We certainly had no clue.  There were 32 teachers on the faculty. I spent few hours today looking at my yearbook trying to figure out who my teachers were that first year. Couldn't do it cuz they blurred together.  Perhaps one of you can help.  Over the next years I had nearly all of them for one class or another.  When I returned in my thirties for a poetry in the schools gig most of them were still there.  I don't know if that is sad or beautiful.  Or both.
To be honest going through the yearbook was a trial.  We all look like creatures from another century.  And not the 20th.  Children taking Personal Typing.  Mechanical Drawing.  The Dance Band! Irma Fean our school nurse.  Object of ridicule for most of my later years in school.  When basketball players feigned illness for a cheap time out we'd all shout: "Irma!, Irma!"
The pictures of the children are hideous.  Giant beehives, huge ears poking out from the sides of heads, all the boys in sport coats, all the girls with head bands.  We all look earnest and young and stupid.  I think we were.
We were all jammed together in this school.  Headed for the future and with no clue that everything we knew, everything our parents knew, would be turned on its head in 7 years.  Jesus the world is strange.
Stranger still that at our reunion this summer most of the tiny photos from my yearbook in 1965 turned out to be my classmates in 1970.  This was a world where no one left.
Next up on the reports!  Scholastic achievement!  Touch football with Jane Shiflet in the afternoon.  Sex rears its ugly head and brings with it dances and fashion.  Ugliness abounds.


Jim Maddox said...

Jack, some of our Seventh Grade teachers were: Mrs. Oglesby-Language Arts and Social Studies, Mrs. Conaway-Reading, R. Emerson-Mathematics, F. Larkin-Science, Mr. Parrish-Mechanical Drawing, B.Patton for Art and V. Thompson for Music.
Last but certainly not least, Madman
Williamson for Gym.

I was out sick in the Spring for over a week, and I think it was you who brought me my Mechanical Drawing assignments.
The cafeteria! Oh, the horror!

Jim Maddox said...

A mystery food moment: Turkey on a stick-what was that all about?

Claudia Hayes Hagar said...

so, jack, since I didn' t come til ninth grade, when did Mr. Bartelson come on as Principal? I think we called him Mr. Noseltrab...??is that right, or did all the drugs do a number on me here? :)
agreeing with Jim on the cafeteria... those horrid tables...