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Pullman, WashingtonYou can see my career as an English professor, with stints in Japan, Turkey, and London, nutshelled at
Left off the vita are my 2 months working for the wild animal act for the circus.
I am now retired in Saginaw, Michigan.
Robin Purcell (Miller)
I’d rather talk about what I got out of High School than a mini bio. I didn't do much in HS. I eschewed the dances, being shy and mostly hung out at the Aragon or the Kinetic Playground listening to (for $5 mind you) Savoy Brown, Santana, Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin often from 7 pm till 5 am. So here goes my non-biography.
I didn't do much in HS, partly because I was ill prepared for it due to my “education” at St. Bernardines in Forest Park. The “new math” left me ill prepared for HS Algebra, there was no training in any foreign language there, little of no music, no PE, (just a playground for softball) and the school’s idea of science was a weekly half hour tv show. No hands-on there. Looking back at the now closed school, I wonder why my mom and dad sent me there.
Oak Park was a different matter, though hopelessly behind in math, foreign language and unable to perform a simple jumping jack, I struggled in shy silence. This wasn't OPRF’s fault at all, you understand.
Still, I had the best teachers at OPRF, best for me. I assume you feel the same way about your teachers there, but I said these were “the best teachers for me.” My mother made up for the disastrously inadequate education at St. Bernardine’s. You see my mother did the scheduling for several years at OPRF and using the scuttlebutt in the faculty lunchroom, she carefully noted which teachers might be flexible enough to suit me. This gave me the best education ever.
Years later when I became a teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary for 3 years and York HS in Elmhurst for 33 years, I drew heavily on my experiences and non-experiences at OPRF.
For example, my World History teacher, Mr. Lister opened my eyes in many ways that I utilized later on. He had us purchase Newsweek and assigned articles, for example, on Marshall McLuhan. The media is the message or is it the media is the message? I got it and understood it. In my teaching years I built several TV studios and multimedia computers rooms so students could design their own message. My studios were way beyond that of OPRFs lame attempt at an Instant Access Retrieval Center, but even that experience enlightened me. Audio need visuals unless wonderfully produced like some current event podcasts.
Wow! Imagine current events in a history class with Newsweek. Rare and wonderful. I had my students order the same magazine for many years.
Lister also got me to read George Orwell’s “1984”, a book that had a profound influence on my views of the world, politics, history and euphemistic language (doublethink you know, doubleplusgood).
Whether I taught English, American History or US Government, I started the year with Orwell’s concepts, novel or film, sometimes coupled with Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Later I developed a Winston Smith jump suit complete with rat cage, traveling forward in time screaming “Do it to Julia, not me, do it to…” and embarked on week long discussions with my students comparing their world to that on mine in 1984. This was particularly helpful during the Bush snipe hunt in Iraq after 911. So thanks Mr. Lister.
My American History teacher was Mr. Masterson. He had us read a variety of sources to form our own opinions. I remember as the Tet Offensive raged in Vietnam, he polled the class and the majority of the class felt the US should get more heavily involved. I remember questioning him after class as to why he didn’t poll the class if we were against the war. Why didn't he ask all of us our opinions? After spring break, Masterson came back from Tennessee, where he was offered hiding places by several locals because he was driving the same type of car as the man suspected of the assassination of Martin Luther King. They wanted to hide him thinking he was the murderer. Masterson didn't offer an opinion there, but it was clear how he felt about it.
My English teacher, Mrs. Spicazza taught a “poetry of rock” session and let us bring in our music to the classroom. Simon and Garfunkel, the Byrds and the Jefferson Airplane with dittoed lyrics, filled the room from my record player. I didn't trust the heavy arms and thick needles of the school record players. Music in the classroom, What a Joy.
My own classroom was filled with music every day possible. Sing-a-longs to union songs, the uncensored version of “ This Land is Your Land” or Pink Floyd’s” The Wall”, among others, filled the space between us all. Once I started the year with Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Cars” , twenty years later I ran into a student who remembered that fact and said she knew she was in a good place because it. Music soothes the soul and enlightens the heart and brain.
My senior Government teacher was Miss Silverstine (my lovely girlfriend, Cindy, also had her as a teacher). Silverstine did something revolutionary. She freed the slaves, well, us. She tried several simulations including a congress and a Supreme Court. This was a revelation to me. You could have fun in a classroom if you let the students take over for a time. This let students utilize more than memorization, it allowed a suburban type of street smarts and hands-on experiences. Silverstine made one mistake. She tied the number of bills passed by a individual students selected state to the final grade. I feverishly worked out the simulation backwards at my part time job in a parking booth behind Marshal Fields. When I had lots of homework I turned out the light in my booth causing the cars to think I was closed and go to the other two booths while I sat on the floor and got paid to do homework.
I figured I could get 8 of ten bill passed and the 9th, if I became Speaker of the House, while students with states proposing as many as 20 bills were going to get burned. You will have to ask me how I passed the 10th bill passed. It was too ruthless to mention, but it involved the bills sponson, Georgia Walls. And Silverstine referred to me, unfavorably as Joe Cannon after that. I think she quit teaching, at least at OPRF, partly because of me.
As a teacher I utilized simulations as often as possible. Mock trials, Congress, Rainforest Preservation, Earth Summits, Human rights games, nuclear proliferation and more. there are former students who are lawyers today because they got their feet wet playing lawyer in my classroom. Thanks Miss Silverstein and err, sorry.
There were other great teachers my mother picked out for me…English teacher Perry Condon and his subtle holiday decorations (oh, you missed them, too subtle). There was Coach Jerry Slack, a little too gungho when he told us to do better jumping jacks so we were ready to fight the gooks in Vietnam (many of us starting screwing up our exercises at that point). There was Doolittle in Geometry who, late to class, wondered “What in tarnation” was Young doing sitting in the teacher’s desk, fist pounding mockingly on the glass covered desk…and breaking the glass just as Doolittle walked in. Too funny. Too perfect.
And wasn't there a teacher who thought he was Lincoln and had a little mental health episode?
And what about Mr Woline in Chemistry setting a student on fire with one of his crazy experiments? At least he was really into it.
And Lacyk in Russian History getting married that year. So who was it who razzed him about that most of the semester? I remember. Penny do you remember?
Nine years later I interviewed in a room with all the OPRF Social Studies teachers questioning me for a teaching job. Lacyk was there and I was terrified he would remember me and the fun the class made of him when he was to be married. He didn't and I turned down the part time job.
And in terms of non teachers, who were those thug like men in the upper row of the football stands berating our quarterback (the son of one of them) with crude words and nasty innuendo. Who says, “My kid sucks, what a loser?” about their own kid? You will have to ask me individually about that. One was my neighbor, Sam…..who I trick or treated from. There might be an FBI film of that night in some dark “deep state” archive.
Finally, one area where OPRF impacted me negatively was with field trips. I never went on one in all five, err four years. But at York HS I became the king of the field trips, some conventional, but others beyond the imagination of any of my teachers.
Our environment is made up, essentially of two things; Our natural environment and our (wo)man made culture. Neither is sufficiently explored in HS. So I took my students on hikes along Potawamie Trails, environmental bike trips on the Prairie Path, biking Chicago’s history (north the Haymarket, etc, south the 1919 Race Riot and more), biking the historic I & M Canal, and many more places. I took students on white water rafting and canoe trips where the iroquois paddled to savage the Illini and I took them caving to experience bats and total darkness. That was the natural environment part with some historical culture wove in. These trips helped me get to know students and their issues in ways my OPRF teachers never could.
For the culture part I took students to many black box theaters in Chicago up to 6 times a years. Gosh it was fun and exhausting and way beyond what OPRF did for me. It was my revenge for never taking me on a field trip, OPRF.
One of my field trips was to a jail and courtroom visit in Cook County, where, enabled by one of your imprisoned classmates, an upperclassman, I got involved in an escape attempt by 13 prisoners, including at least one who professed to me of committing double murder. But you will have to ask me about that too…too long a story.
Well thanks OPRF. You got me up to speed and gave me a great education. My teachers were the best…for me.
So what do you remember? What did you use the rest of your life?
St. Catherine of SienaI have been living in Los Angeles since 1979. My husband and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in December. In 2012 I retired after working for over 35 years as a registered dietitian nutritionist. I am really excited about attending the reunion. I can't wait to catch up with everyone!
Kristy Houser (Stenberg)
Lincoln, RFJH50 years! Yikes! The first 25 years I lived in Illinois, Michigan, Montana and Alaska and was mostly raising kids. The last 25 years I have lived in Portland, Oregon raising kids and teaching high school math. I have four sons, one daughter and five grandchildren, so life has been pretty good to me. I just retired and I am totally enjoying the great freedom of being able to do whatever I want for the first time, maybe ever! I am looking forward to seeing each of you in October.
Wm. HatchAfter OPRF HS went off to Xavier Un in Cincinnati, Oh. Degree in Business adm but ended up with a career in the U.S. Secret Service. Retired after 24 years with the USSS but then right to the VA Inspector General for 7 yrs; and then completed my Gov't time with another 7 yrs finishing up as the Acting Inspector General at the Dept of Labor. Met my wife Janie a year out of college in Cincinnati. Been married 44 yrs! 3 boys; 5 grandkids. We are retired now in Southport, NC (ST James Plantation). Looking forward to the reunion.
EmersonI can't believe it has been 50 years, and that we have lost so many classmates! Or that I am still here.
Anyway, "You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever!"
Still in Oak Park. Never got around to leaving.
See you at the reunion.
Neal GLICK (Glick)
Roosevelt Elementary (Teddy, not Franklin) in RF, then RFJHI live in Wellesley, MA (Boston suburb), with my wife Lisa, 3 kids, a faithful dog and 2 useless cats. I also practice law there, having practiced in Boston for most of my career. Saw many of you at the 40th and am looking forward to repeating (and expanding) that wonderful experience at the 50th. College in NJ, law school in Boston, a brief stint with the feds in D.C. and then back to Boston, where I have stayed for 41 years. I love the ocean, the mountains and the landscape of New England, and I shifted my allegiance to the Pats and Red Sox, but I miss the food (especially "beefs," Vienna hot dogs and deep dish pizza), the beautiful city of Chicago and the midwestern friendliness of the folks who live there.
J. Gary Hopkins
Holmes & LowellI'm a certified public accountant. I have an MPA from NIU, and a CRCP from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania. I worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for 33 years where I was an assistant director of the SEC's nine-state Chicago Region. While employed at the SEC, I worked in Kazakhstan and Bahrain, but primarily at locations in the U.S., mostly in the midwest. After more than 40 years as a federal employee, I am now retired. Since retiring, I volunteer for Northwest Families for Life, and spend the remainder of my time trying to retain my ability to walk.