Saturday, October 04, 2008

50 Year Perspective: High School Was Fun

After 50 years, I finally came to terms with my hometown, Spokane, and my teen years. In the 50s, I thought it was life in hell. Reading the Lewis and Clark High School “Tiger Tales,” the 50-year reunion book, I came to the realization that I had friends and fun at LCHS for the first time in my life. I dithered over the trip to Spokane for the reunion but decided against it. I wrote the best biography in the reunion publication. It would have cheered my freshman English teacher Mrs. Watrous who probably thought I was an idiot when I showed up late on the first day of class (lost in the hallway).

Here’s the names that jumped out at me as I became totally consumed by the book:

Judy Eash, who along with her sister Margy, lived across the street from the Zarkins on 29th Street. Her grandmother, Mrs. Koss, was our baby sitter and we looked forward to her visits because she would always leave candy for us. Judy’s mother hosted a Halloween party one year for the neighborhood kids which was the only time I ever bobbed for apples. Quite messy but a Halloween tradition in the 40s and 50s.

Jack Malone, who listed his complete work history, was a Roosevelt grade school buddy and the most wonderful kid on the planet, at least I thought. I once went to his house. He writes poetry now and he apparently played the piano at one time. I recall running into Jack at the University of Washington where he was involved in the College Republicans. Aging comic actress Zsa Zsu Pitts gave a rather uninspiring endorsement for Tricky Dick at this event.


Dave Zarkin said...

Rosalie Sclhlager and Andy Venar, who along with me, were probably the only known Jewish kids in a class of about 500. Andy and I were the only ones left in the Roosevelt Grade School classroom when the rest of the kids toddled off to Christian bible school known as “free time”. Second grade teacher Mrs. Moran dutifully told the Easter story and we made clay reproductions of the manger scene at Christmas. I am sure they meant to include some references to Chanukah and Purim but probably didn’t have time what with overseeing the manger projects.

Spike Dunton isn’t listed in the book but his wife Sue Chisholm is and I will never forget the convocation where he addressed the assembled masses in his role as president, looking quite preppy in his letter sweater. Spike was right out of Hollywood central casting. I never exchanged a word with the Spike but I knew that he was the quintessential high school hero and I needed to take notice.

Nevin Aspinwall was a good friend and expert in photography and photo development. He lived across the street from Manito Park, a short bike ride from 29th.

Rosalie Aspray, Bonnie Hubbard, Rick Judy, Don Miller and Dennie Dressel are familiar names from both Roosevelt and LCHS and I wish them well. Rick’s family hosted a party for fellow students at their cottage at Twin Lakes and it may have been grade school graduation.

George Nichols lived a few blocks south of us and his father was in the surplus business. I may have attended his birthday party. I might be wrong about this but I think his grandmother flipped her ‘49 Ford at Division and 29th, striking a telephone pole. Auto accidents were incredibly ugly then and like scary movies lingered in my childhood memories.

I was riding in a car driven by Rabbi Learner when he struck fellow Roosevelt and later LCHS classmate Fred Fricke who suffered a broken leg but later went on to become a LCHS football player. Clergy probably shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

Alphonso Bivens, possibly the only African American in the school, realized his dream to become a dancer. I remember that he idolized Maria Tallchief, a dancer.


Roger Springer and few other friends used to go to movies and bum around, watching the DJs at KNEW spin records on the south hill. His parents invited me to their cabin at Priest Lake where we water skied in the fall.

After the last reunion I learned that Paul Stokes moved to Texas via a letter from his wife. Paul was ahead of the curve with his tape recorder and he introduced me to the LP by Sid Bass “With Bells On” which I still own. We placed the recorder microphone in the radiator so we could record conversations at a pre-prom party I hosted at my parents house. I don’t think the talk was all that interesting but it was a novelty. We tried to transfer LPs to tape but picked up interference form 50,000 watt KGA AM.

My locker mate was Herb Zimmerman and e used to chat on the phone about nothing. Herbie was my first real friend.

Although I never exchanged a word with him, I was quite fascinated by the athletic accomplishments of Bob Caldwell. If they had filmed the “high school musical” in the 50s, Bob would have been the Zac Efron character. I think I caught sight of him in 1958 at the Hasty Tasty in Seattle when I was a University of Washington undergraduate. LCHS performed “Lil Abner” and I was sure that Bob would be Abner but apparently he did not aspire to footlight fame.

Another glamourous LCHS luminary was Sandra Farthingham who I waltzed around the floor at a mixer one time only. Sandra was a stunner. My parents financed dancing lessons conducted at the Ridpath Hotel by a bossy British woman with heavy makeup and platinum hair. I stumbled around to “Hearts of Stone” by the Fontaines. Attempts to teach me the mambo were a dismal failure. I went to a dance/concert at the Coliseum featuring Bill Hailey and the Comets of “Rock Around the Clock” fame. Mom and Dad took my sister, Claudia, and me to see pop singer Jimmy Rogers a the Albie Stadium. We were so far away poor Jimmy was all but a rumor but his hits were big on KNEW Radio.


Rod Lutes
Of all the names listed, Rod Lutes stands out like a huge beacon. Rod was a spirited, fun-loving lad. Probably too fun loving. He had a nickname for me -- “Dave Atlee” -- which made little sense to me but I was happy that anyone found me that endearing they needed to give me a nickname other than “Scootch” that Mom favored or Flash that seemed to fit in Coast Guard boot camp.

Rod was good friends with Bill Tatt who was a buddy in high school and we used to do things together. Voyeurism was on the agenda and Rod would lead an after dark tour of the neighborhood for peep show opportunities. Thankfully we were never arrested. Things were dodgier when I invited Rod and Bill to my family’s lake cabin for a couple of days and Rod showed us the art of swamping fishing boats on the lake. An irate fisherman showed up at my parents cabin and he was not amused. That was the last time I invited Rod and Bill to the cabin. Rod’s dad owned a pink and white Lincoln Premiere and a lilac and white Ford Crown Victoria.

Don Nutter
Don Nutter’s mother gave me a ride home from school in her Chrysler Town and Country sedan which was a big deal then. Don tormented me in grade school but ignored me at LCHS.

Dave Zarkin said...

Cousin Jan writes:
Fun read. I did go to my 50th and was a mistress of ceremonies.  Walla Walla was very antisemetic which made some things, like club memberships, out of the question, so some of the high school times were sad.

Dave Zarkin said...

Dave: Just got back from a trip that included a week in Duluth, where my son David (?) and his wife are teachers at St. Scholastica. Actually I know the tune to Here we have Idaho, but the refrain is best, tho it meant little or nothing at BSU. Strictly a U of I thing where the men serenaded the women at their living quarters--before coed dorms. I saw Andy and her husband at the 50th reunion. She looked good and was happy to see me. I took in the Fox Theatre tour and the meal get-togethers except the Sunday
brunch, as I took my sister out to eat for her birthday. I had seen the newly refurbished LC, so didn't go on that tour either. I just received the
notice that the 2-hour video CD is available from Raines video productions of Portland for $33.95 including shipping. I was videoed Friday Night at
Ft. Wright College. The wife and I took a side trip down memory lane to the Bowl and Pitcher, and walked across the footbridge and back. I think the dance place was the Grange Hall out by the Kaiser Aluminum plant. I went
out there several times with neighbor kids and my sister. The 50th was more fun than the 40th, and there were a few more, as lots of us were retired. Biggest surprise was Jack Price in a cowboy getup--he rents out horses, does pack trips etc. Nevin Aspinwall paid and didn't get out of St. Lewis, where he is a professor. Didn't see Springer, Roe or many from Kramlich's home room. Dwight Damon's wife died since the last reunion, and he had a tall blonde trophy wife at the Saturday dinner. Jack Westerman's wife Judy insisted I had visited them when they lived in Minneapolis in 1966, but I was in Denver or New Mexico at the time. Had a good time visiting, but so much all at once tired me out. As did visiting
the grandchildren the past three weeks. Number 5 is Carson Patrick Ostendorf. born September 12, 2008. He arrived about a week earlier than
expected, but is doing fine now. We attended the baptism and came home--600 plus miles over 24 hours with 3 cats in the motor home. Now to get ready for winter.Thanks for the email! Clayton Vosen

Dave Zarkin said...

Regarding “cool”, those guys in the 50s with the low-riding jeans were wild outcasts; rebel boys who didn’t subscribe to the prevailing behavior code set by the OBC letter sweater boys.
One was Bill Vanderwall who was a vision right out of Grease of a 50s high school boy. Bill sat next to me in Clarence Miller’s biology class at LCHS. By James Dean standards, Billy was super cool with the cigarettes, blond hair hanging over his forehead and a neat car. Bill prevailed upon me to “help” him with a biology assignment (I think I wrote it for him) and promised me a ride in his car which I still await at this advanced age.
Guys like Bill were called hoods, rinks and greasers and were inspired by James Dean and the Fontaine Sisters sang their praises in “Daddy-O”, a top 10 favorite on KSPO and KNEW. So they were guys with low-riding jeans, duck tails slicked back with grease who socialized over smokes on the lawn in front of LCHS Bill was truly quintessential 50s, ala The Fonze.
Miller was a lovable boot camp sergeant type teacher. He promised grave consequences if we ever knocked over a microscope and of course that was the first thing I did. Got a B from Miller. He said I had enough onion under the microscope to make a stew. I also took chemistry from R.C. Anderson who said “the good old days are now.” I got a false sense of scholarship from the As in chemistry at LCHS and went on to miserable chemistry grades at the U of W.

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