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« Hair-Brained | Main | All Children Left in the Dust »

February 18, 2005


Danny, This piece should/could go into an education journal of some kind replete with photographs and all.

It gives a detailed description of teachers and the effect they have on children. It reminds us that we were all children once, and that emotional memories last forever.

The photograph of Spellings (oy the name!) is blood chilling.

Danny: Don't know how I found this website (I think I typed in Rhonda Hellstrom because hers is one of the few classmate names I can still remember; I do that once in a great while when I'm having a nostalgic moment). Fun to know pictures of me from fifth and eighth grades are circulating on the Net. I saw your funny riff on Mrs. Seidman's Christmas carols a few years back but never bothered to get in touch. I'm living in Cornwall now (about 250 miles southwest of London)- my second husband and I moved here last September in anticipation that Dubya might steal a second term. BTW, I also heard Susan Stamberg's Peterson School story on NPR and was totally enchanted. I have a dreamy memory of those innocent few years after kindergarten and her essay reinforced it -- you never do forget where you learned how to read. (And yes, I remember being in the "A" reading group too!) Drop a line and let me know how you're doing. Keep up the nice work with freelance writing.
Donna Anton
[email protected]

I attended Peterson from Kindergarten (1958) through 8th grade (1967); then it was on to Von Steuben. I loved looking at your pictures and reading your comments about the teachers--many of whom I also had. Mrs. Luby scared me into learning the "times tables." I thought Miss Genitis was fun, and I loved Mrs. Stone. Thanks for the nostalgia.

I enjoyed reading your blog. June Kaiser (my sister's friend)turned me on to it. Man,you have a great memory! I didn't remember half of that. I was in Mrs. O'Connors class with you. I do remember the piano playing and flabby arms when she conducted.I saw Jill Chaiken a couple of years ago and she dates a friend of mine. I do remember Mrs. Shapiro's multiplication tables and I think it helped me to this day.
Drop me a note sometime.
Kenny Pozner
[email protected]

You brought back some great memories.I personally am glad that you skipped a grade,making it possible for my picture to make it twice to the internet.I'm still living in the area and keep in touch with many people from the neighborhood.Ross Waxman,Sandy Siegal,Susie Specter,and all of the Rapoports and of course,my sister Paula and my brother-in-law Scott Clar.I want to hear from more Petersonites. Alan Spector- [email protected]

I have read two of your blogs. Although I enjoy reading the descriptions of Von Steuben and Peterson, I take issue with your statements as to the quality of the education at both schools and your comments as to the racial situation at Von. While your experiences with respect to relations between white and African-American students at Von seem to have been lacking in meaning, mine were not. Some of us have lasting friendships as a result of the Permissive Transfer program. I also have no problem with the quality of the education at both schools. I do, however, still have nightmares about Mrs. Shapiro. She was also the best teacher I ever had.

Hey, Scotty. I'm glad you had a different experience at Peterson and Von. Most of us turned out okay so the quality of education couldn't have been that bad--and I'd be the first to say that some of the teachers there were extraordinary. It was also a different time--I look at the activities my 5th grade daughter is involved in at her school and wish we had been exposed to such things. I'm also glad you formed lasting friendships with people of all races during those years. Most of my essays about my childhood are more revealing of my own personal neuroses and issues than any hard and fast "truths" about my experience. I think it's interesting to read a variety of people's memories of the same events and see how completely different they can be.

P.S. For all my talk about progressive education, I think Mrs. Shapiro's table papers were a great idea. Nothing wrong with rote memorization from time to time...

Oh man, what a retrospective! Though we didn't move in the same circles in grade or high school (in fact I don't think I HAD a circle, but that's a whole different blog), but we passed through both Peterson and Von at the same time, including the (in)famous "Tables" Shapiro for 4th grade the same year. After 5th grade and obergrupenfuerer Geib (nothing borderline about her sociopathology, by the way), I had Stone for 6th, Cline (Klein? Kline?) and Sorensen for 7th, and Wahle and Andrews for 8th grade (I think)

In fact, my strongest memory of you was when we were both in Mr. Daniels' film class in high school. Your final project was head and shoulders above anyone else's, and I'm convinced my B+ kinestasis film would have been an A in any other year (Incidentally, 1975 is the last time I used the word kinestasis before today). It's odd what sticks in one's memory and what doesn't.

At any rate, I just wanted to thank you for refreshing some of the best times (mostly Peterson) and worst times (mostly Von Steuben) I had in academia.

Oh, and just to clarify matters, it was Krane (or Crane) for 7th grade.


Sometimes I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday. However, I can remember in complete visual detail hundreds of scenes from Peterson and the old neighborhood. How about your Mom dressing up as the most unbelieveable witch and taking Sue and I trick or treating on Halloween. In 4th grade Mrs. Shapiro made me sit at her desk when she left the room and give her a full detailed report on the misbehavior of the children. I really gained alot of popularity from that. You always had the greatest junky food in your house. How about the queen tapes on the first video camera. I can go on and on, but I'll stop now. Was I weird looking in one of those pictures? Your article was completely enjoyable. Thanks, Fran


Sometimes I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday. However, I can remember in complete visual detail hundreds of scenes from Peterson and the old neighborhood. How about your Mom dressing up as the most unbelieveable witch and taking Sue and I trick or treating on Halloween. In 4th grade Mrs. Shapiro made me sit at her desk when she left the room and give her a full detailed report on the misbehavior of the children. I really gained alot of popularity from that. You always had the greatest junky food in your house. How about the queen tapes on the first video camera. I can go on and on, but I'll stop now. Was I weird looking in one of those pictures? Your article was completely enjoyable. Thanks, Fran

What fun to read the comments and recollections of Peterson. I attended there from 1934 - 1941, then moved on to Von. Despite preceding you by a generation, I was delighted with your memories of the windows, bolted desks, high ceiling fixtures, and kindergarten furnishings, all of which were as you describe Did they get rid of the sand table?

Wow. I go to peterson school and Guess what?! Mrs.Shapiro is now Ms.Sultan because she got divorced and shes not a third grade teacher, She's the consultunt(sp?). her daughter Jodi Shapiro was my third grade teacher but is now a fifth grade teacher and shes a bit crazed with Mulitplication too. They are both awesome and wonderful and i just like to say you wrote an awesome story!

Sorry, a little late to the party but I just found this site. On my desk in front of me are 7 of the 9 reports cards from my time, 68-77 at Peterson. Though several years behind most of you I recognize some of your names. Lets see, I had Mrs. Reid last year she taught, Mrs. Kipnis, Mrs.Roin/Mrs.Krum for 2nd, Mrs.Bikshorn, Mrs.Gillick, Mrs. Sideman (she creeped me out back then), Mrs."I'm going to change the world" Colbertson(she was a culture shock fresh from college amongst all the "old school" old timers eh?) Mr. Wahle (the best!) and Mr. "Poopsi" Andrews. I thank God for those "old school" teachers, though back then what we thought of them was a different story.
I went through Peterson last year when my kids (14&6 then)had an off day. Peterson was having parent-teacher meetings so we wandered freely through the old place.
Man did it seem small! Gym looked almost the same, balcony of the auditorium still had the old seats, the walls still have the same old cracks, same curtains and even same pictures of Washington and Lincoln on either side of the stage. Back then those looked to be 100 years old.
Went on to Von after that, what a dump! Seems worse now. Anyone remember that crazy guy that drove down the sidewalk (circa 79 or 80) from the south end of the school to the north in that big old 'mafia' looking car?

I am a 6th grader now in the peter son scholand i love that school

Im in 6th grade right now in mary gage peterson does anyone know ms.symth,mr.brady,or ms.bell

Your memory of that generaton of CPS architecture is amazing. I attended Boone School, a Peterson clone, during the 50s. You brought back long forgotten details of the elementary school experience.

I just noticed that Haarisah, who is in my class, commented on this. I was searching for the school website, and this popped up. Well, now me AND Haarisah are going into 7th grade, and the food is still horrible. But, they are renovating the school! There is going to be a real cafeteria and there's an addition in the building as well... at last we will not have to eat in the gym on cafeteria tables! (it isnt the same after a private school in a foreign country :P)


I just found your blog about peterson school while I was trying to find a teacher I had there. you must have been there a few years before me. I was there in 1974 & 1977-79. I remember those teachers quite well. Mrs. Bichshorn who was just so mean and cared so little and only liked me because i had my hair done in fancy salons. For 5th grade I had the amazing luck of having a teacher called Mr. Carter Glass who I am despertly trying to find now but to no avail. Anyway, I guess you could add me to list of semi-famous people from that school. I was the lead singer of the 10,000 Maniacs until last year.

Danny, you have such a vivid memory and a talent for writing. Myself I cannot consciously remember much about Peterson school, about the old neighborhood. The details of what things looked like, the students' and teachers' names, the anecdotes--I'm sure they lie in my mind too, though in some dim, dusty corner. The memories I do have are more like emotional imprints, my internal reactions to the experiences and how those reactions shaped me as a person for better or worse. For example, softball was the be-all and end-all of everything and defined who was in the mainstream and who was on the nerd-fringes. I think that would make a good essay, about softball, the Peterson schoolyard neighborhood games and all that it meant and all that it symbolizes and all that it affected.

Danny your article was fantastic and entertaining. I attended Peterson from 1976-1984. I freakin hated that school. It was horrible and I remember seeing kids crying all the time. I also remember all the ghetto kids that attended and all the bullies. Horrible time of my life I can assure. Still, I very much enjoy your historical perspective. What did the old lights look like in the class rooms and school halls? Do you have any pictures? I also wonder what Peteron School looked like in the 1920"s; the foilage, the school yard, ie. I wish people had pictures of back then to post up. Must be fascinating. Great article!

Richard, I have no photos but wonder if the old heating plant (a detached building) still stands, if the "ventilators" along the west side of the building are still summer-evening rendevous sites. Is Weiner's Deli still across the street to the north where we'd purchase 16" balls for important games? Back in the 30s Miss Schroll was pricipal. Mrs. Person taught 8th grade. I recall field trips to Bowman Dairy, Field Museum. Springfield, the opera "Hansel and Gretel", the Planetarium and the County Jail. It was the depths of the Great Depression but we were happy.

Your photo of Peterson school shows the new fence. But I loved the old fence. You could walk on it,and the better your balance, the further you got. I never missed a chance to walk the fence on my way north on Christiana to Bryn Mawr....... to Tanya's for an early dinner, to Hamilton's for school supplies, or maybe all the way to the library sub-branch. When I was older and a volleyball fanatic, I remember playing over the tall fence at the north end of the school.

Peterson school ROCKS!!!!!!
im going to mrs bramleys class in fourth grade

In response to John who posted on 4/11/2009, yest the old heating plant building is still there. If you all want to see what Peterson School looks like today go to google and type in flickr. Then in the search field type in peterson school and you will get a whole bunch of current photos. It is very interesting. Again, if anybody has pictures of Peterson from 30's on, please post. I love the history.

i am currently in sixth grade. my teachers are mr. Brady, Mrs. Saucedo and ms. Koziarski. they are all pretty great with exception of mrs.Mann. ugggghh!! the school is terrific and the teachers are nice, because not only will they be your teachers they will be your friends! im looking forward to seventh grade, but for right now i am happy where i am!

In '08 Richard asked what the school looked like years ago. It's 69 years since I left Peterson for Von Steuben. There was no fence around the school, the basic building and heating plant looked as they do now. The entire block otherwise was covered with a white crushed rock. We would play "pinners" throwing a hard rubber ball at the curved cement wainscoat. The fielders would try to catch the ball on the fly to prevent "base hits". "Buck-Buck" was a forbidden game. Marshal Orloff of our class became professor and chief of surgery at U.Cal.San Diego.

I am amazed to have found this blog item and the comments. I attended Peterson School from 1958 to 1962. I had Mrs. Shapiro for 3rd grade. She was my nemesis! "Times tables" every single day for a half a year (before we moved away to Deerfield). Like some of the others, I think it helped me become a whiz at math. But she was mean. My parents later told me they wondered if she didn't like me because I wasn't Jewish, although I was too young to even know what that meant. (I've since converted to Judaism, ironically.) I also remember Mrs. Genitis for French, Mrs. Stone, and I think I had Mrs. Reid too for kindergarten--I'll have to check my class pictures which are stored away somewhere. Anyway thanks for the memories!

Danny! Thank you so much for this walk down memory lane. I found your blog through Frances Archer's Me & My Shadow Blog-another wonderful recollection of our school & neighborhoods.

My father came to America from Sweden at the age of 12 and was enrolled at Peterson, not speaking a word of English. The school was brand new and he was in the first graduating class. He would be 101 years old now!
I also had Miss Reid & Miss Genetis (she hated me). I graduated in 1966 & went on to Von Steuben.

Through Facebook, I have reunited with dozens of classmates.

Thanks for the memories...... Bonnie Liss Class of 1966

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