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January 03, 2006


Hi Danny,
I returned to read more of your blog via Naomi's site. I enjoyed every single one of my h.s. reunions because I enjoy people watching and remembering.

I was amazed that people remembered me: the "artsy quiet one." At my last reunion, I was almost pulled into the Bar Mitzvah across the hall. It turned out we knew the people there from our shul. I hope you have a terrific time at your 30th!

Danny, I have never attended a High School reunion but in June last year I attended my Habonim Reunion in Israel and it was an absolute blast! Recognizing people and thinking about how they were seeing me was mind-blasting for days and days. I simply cannot wait to read your blog after you attend yours!

Danny, my high school was predominately white for many years until the early 80s. There was a race riot there in 1979 or 80, and by the time my class arrived in 1981 white flight was taking over the nearby neighborhood. It was still a white school by the time I graduated, and all the social positions at the school were held by the white kids.

Reunion time came a few years ago. 20 years. No one contacted me. I finally got an email from a black girlfriend and she and the other black classmates wanted to have their own reunion party. They were upset because the white classmates were planning to have the reunion not in the city where went to school, but wayyyy out in the sticks in a rural area 90mins away from the school.

The school is now a black school and the black students wanted a reunion in the city.

As it turned out, one or two black students showed up to the party in the country and there were some very hot email flying about for several months.

So interesting, Nappy40, parts of that could be about my school. I also remember hearing about some renewed racial problems at Von Steuben after I left, just around the time you mentioned (79-80). We always thought our time there was so devoid of such issues but maybe it's more that we were still in the "separate but equal" mode and by the late 70s people had had enough of that.

Nice post Danny. But it sort of cries out for your regular yearbook pic (like that of the girls)... I'm curious to know what you put for "1986:". (Or did the yearbook folks write that?)

Needless to say the black/white division was much the same here in Alabama. My reunions have mostly been like that too, although not entirely.

I thought of including my senior picture, Rurality, but it's so hideous I just couldn't do it—I much prefer the photo of me holding hands with LaJuan Amos! Oy, I also can't bear what I wrote for 1986. I was so jaded back then that I couldn't take the question seriously so here's what I wrote—1986: Dismembered. Funny, huh? I'm glad I still have all my limbs and didn't have to karmically suffer for that dumb joke.

Danny, I attended my 10 year because I finally didn't feel so geeky. For my 20th, my husband gladly agreed to attend with me. We made our way to the Marriot hotel...upon entering, I gazed around and thought,"wow, I know I wasn't popular, but I don't know a single person here". I quickly found out that I had gone to the wrong hotel...RELIEF...I wasn't as big of a geek as I thought! After finally making my way to the right hotel, I had a great was freeing to see that I had aged well (by comparison) and was happily married. Many of the "cheerleaders" on the other hand seemed to be overly dolled-up and desperately running around trying to appear happy. I thought to myself...maybe the meek (or I should say "the geek") really shall inherit the earth! Perhaps that is why you are planning this event...when you realize how far you have come from being that person who couldn't even get picked for the team, it is safe to go back. (does that make sense?)

The geek shall inherit the earth . . . I love it. (And how true, too: look at Bill Gates . . . )

I went from my integrated K-8 school (which I've written about here -- second half of the long post) to the private University of Chicago High School, while virtually all my friends went on to public Hyde Park High. It might have been a good choice academically but it was a bad choice for me emotionally (it was my parents' choice, of course, but I'm sure I went along with it out of vanity -- "it's where the smart kids go," etc.). It was a vulnerable time for me anyway (for whom is it not? age 13?), and I didn't fully comprehend that most of my UHigh classmates had been together at the Laboratory School since kindergarten. I felt like an outsider because, by god, I was an outsider, but of course I imagined it was my fault. I felt invisible, ugly, socially paralyzed, and depressed for most of high school, but did make one close friend, who is still my close friend today (and who recently took the one picture of me I could finally stand to post on my blog). I also escaped in summer to places where I felt much more free: summer camp and then, weirdly, a summer trip to Germany with our German teacher. (I don't even want to go into the implications of that, or I'll start feeling like Jack Rosenberg, aka "Werner Erhard." I think it could have been any "other" country.)

All this has a point: I went to one of my reunions -- it must have been the 30th, in 1993 -- dressed like Tina Turner. I was in my late 40s, obviously, but had finally (better late than never!) come into my own, was in good shape from practicing karate, and despite my undyed and graying hair, had conceded a lot less to middle age (at that point) than most of my classmates. It was the shameless fulfillment of a fantasy: go to your high school reunion and knock 'em dead, get noticed in spades by the once "popular" boys (now perfectly nice regular married guys) who didn't even see you when you were sixteen, etc. etc.

It was a nice way to say farewell to all that before sailing into the sunset of menopause, and sinking.

Good luck with your high school reunion. I was a military brat and attended 3 high schools, I hated the last one. I have never attended any of my reunions.

The first High school was mostly white and the The last two were mixed pretty well between black students and white students. I ate with the black students.

Danny, this post has driven me to it - I have GOT to buy a scanner so I can post some of my old yearbook pictures on my blog. These are classics! Is Donna Anton still a hobbit?

You looked like a lot of the dudes I hung out with in high school. But they were all, uh, stoners.

You bring back many memories for me Danny..not about integrated schools..(we didn't even have a teeny tiny thought about that back then)..but just about High School and hating school..and being so happy to graduate..!
I went to one reunion only... the 40th..and it was very interesting in many ways...All the men looked very very different...Fat, Bald,and Old, etc...and I was shocked and amazed at the number of women who had had Plastic Surgery...but beside these women, all the women in general held up much better than the men, with a few exceptions of course... Old crushes were reunited for a little while stirring many old feelings...maybe I'll write a post about it one day....and then again....

Thanks for all the very interesting ruminations, my dear...

danny, if you're ever in the neighborhood we should get together and rant about cps...i was a part of the system for 13 years...and now my mom works at the local grade school that i graduated from. my parents have some interesting stories as well.

I had to laugh at the comments about LaJuan Amos, because Rochelle Morgan was with out a doubt the hottest Afro American woman in our grade. Now that I will be 48 years old next week, I can honestly say that those 4 years at Von Steuben were the best 4 years of my life (not that getting married to a great woman and having 2 great children and making a nice living and living a nice lifestyle have not been great as well), but those years were pressureless and carefree.

By the way, Cleo Franklin was at our 10 year reunion.

I am reliving my youth thru my daughter, who is a sophmore in High School in the Suburbs. They have clubs for everything, more sports teams that I knew there were sports, and advisors for every facet of their lives. I think we had more fun and it's a better learning experience to figure things out for ourselves that to have someone to "talk" to about everything.

Your high school experience was my college experience, I went to class and then went to work, avoiding socializing to a great extent and not participating in any school activities, except going to basketball games (which I did at Von as well). Most of the people I still consider my "Best" friends are Von Steuben classmates.

I look forward to seeing you and everyone else at our reunion!

Hi Danny.(if you still read this I realize this is over a year old)!Anyway, I came across your blog because I was looking for some info for my mom who went to Von..(she is 63 now and my dad went there as well and he would have been 66). First about them. I have to say,,I envy their times and their stories, and it amazes me the fun that they had in high school. And the men were all in clubs. My dad was an "epsilon"? And it seemed like Von was an all Jewish school as well durning those times. They both grew up in peterson Park. Well after reading what you wrote,,I just wanted to comment that, I graduated from Mather in 1986, and we also had bussing, and many African Americans from all over the city and far south side,attended Mather. And I have to High school we all hung out together. This is what I loved about West Rogers Park, and growing up there. As kids, it didn't matter what skin color we had, race religion, MHS was like the United Nations. Nobody cared where or how we lived. Who had more, or who had less. We were all one and the same. Unfortunately things change as adults, and we begin to see how everyone is so different, and have different backgrounds..etc. I LOVED HIGH SCHOOL and HAD A BLAST!! Our 20th reunion was this past November and guess what? ^everyone^ showed up, and we were back in time for 5 hours or so that felt like 5 minutes! It was amazing! Everyone had fun. It was so great I cannot even imagine doing it over! I hope you had fun at your reunion! I did take my son to see Mather..(he is almost 11) and what did he ask me? "hey mom,,where is the student parking lot". I just rolled my eyes. What a difference between raising your kids in West Rogers Park, and now today on THE NORTH SHORE...ugh LOL Take care!

Well I thought I was the hottest chick at Von steuben 1972-1976 not Lajuan Amos(bo-bo). I enjoyed my 4 years at Von. Even thought I received straight FA's in my freshmen year. Failure of absences.Lajuan and I were best freinds, I have not seen her in 30 years.then you have vicki nash, patricia leonard Joyce daniels,and myself hung out together all 4 years and of course i ended up ging steady with lester foster, and joyce daniels went steady with cleo franklin. Waldo harvey is a sucessful doctor. My last memories at Von steuben were great. My senior prom the guy I took ended u p being my husband for 25 years with two beautiful children and three grand children. the class picnic was great and of course I had and after party after the prom. it was great.

I also forgot to tell you guys my name , it was Alyssa Mcnease, not Weeks thats my married name and yes I have heard a lot of week Jokes.

Unbelievable- Danny Miller! I always knew you were a genius. Danny, it's Kevin Bernstein here. Graduated with you, in 1976 from Von. It's remarkable, how events in adolescence and teenage years remain with us throughot our life cycle. I'm sorry I've missed the reunions, but would love to here from some of our classmates. I am a physician in Las Vegas, Nevada, specializing in family medicine and psychiatry. My personality remains "Keev Doll", as coined by one of my closest friends at Von, Paul Arnold. In brief, it has been inspiring reading your vignette, and wish all the mazel to our friends from Von.

Danny, thanks for yet another insightful stroll down memory lane! I will have to email Chriss Zaplatynski since you have her in the pic with Julie (I think...) How is your little munchkin doing, sleeping through the night yet?
And Hello there, Kevin B! Are you on facebook yet?

very nice your blog!!

damm i got to roosevelt which is like 2-3 block aways lol

Just stumbled across your blog. Great writing.
Lots of wonderful memories of the "shtetl". I graduated from Von Upper Grade in 1963, and from Roosevelt in '67, as I lived just south of Lawrence ave.

Seeing your photo of Von reminded me of the mornings I spent sitting on the concrete stoop at the north end of the building, waiting for class to start at 8AM. I've been a record collector ("vinyl junkie") for 55 years, and imagine my surprise when I saw that north entrance being used as the cover of a Chuck Berry LP that came out in 1958! If you'd like, I'll send a jpg of that cover to you (you'll have my e-dress). By the way, Lani Hall, Herb Alpert's wife of 50 years, went to Hibbard and Von in the 50s and 60s.

Anyway, thanks for the warm fuzzy memories.

An Albany Parker forever,

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