Middle and High School

I attended middle school, or Junior High as we called it back then, at Orville Wright Jr. High in Westchester, CA. It included 7, 8, and 9th grades. High school was 10,11,12.

Things I remember: Paper drives. We all would collect newspapers, bundle and tie them and then bring them to school. They would all be stacked on the blacktop according to grade level. It was a contest to see which grade brought in the most papers. I believe it was a fund raiser for the school, as the papers were sold to someone?! It was always an exciting time at school to see all those paper stacks.

I started playing the clarinet in 7th grade. I loved it! I played till 10th grade and then became more interested in boys, so gave it up. 🙁 After my first year, my dad bought me a clarinet so I didn’t have to rent one.

In Jr. High, PE became a real class with a grade! I loved PE and always got A’s. However, one year, it might have been 8th grade, I chipped the bone in my right hand little finger playing basketball, AT SCHOOL! The doctor said I couldn’t participate in PE for about 4 weeks. My teacher was young and new to the school; Ms. Stone. Ugh. Everyone called her “stone face” and no one liked her very much. Well, when grades came around she gave me a D! I was shocked! She said it was because I wasn’t participating in PE. Hello, I had a splint on my hand and a doctors note! And, I still showed up everyday and helped in the PE office. I ended up talking to my favorite PE teacher, Ms. Brown. She was shocked too, that Ms. Stone had given me a D. I know Ms. Brown talked with Ms. Stone, but I don’t remember if my grade was changed. It wasn’t a final grade, so there was that.

Occasionally, we had Sports Nights. It was Friday nights from 7 to 10 pm. Kids could play basketball, and other activities, and there was also music and dancing. Our favorite dance? The twist! When I was 13 the Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” came out and I loved it! I remember watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show and being so excited! I also went to their concert at Dodger Stadium when I was 16.

Another sobering event happened when I was 13. President Kennedy was assassinated. I was at school and we were all called back to our Home Rooms and they told us what happened. Very sad.

Jr. High is where I met my best friend Nancy Blankman.  We met in PE class as the “squads” lined up alphabetically; Biggs, Blankman.  We were best friends all through Jr. High, High School, college, and still to this day! Another good friend was Beryl Kahel.  She moved in just around the corner from my house when we were in Jr. High.  We stayed close friends through college and after, but as adults, lost contact.

When I was 13, I had a crush on the boy next door; Joe Caruso.  He was 16.  We liked each other and hung out a lot and, of course, played games out in the street.  Nothing ever became of the “crush.”

My first boyfriend was John Armstrong.  He came into the Broadway department store, where my mom worked, to buy paint.  He was 20 years old, and painted homes to support himself.  His parents had both died and he had a sister, but was living on his own.  Anyway, my mother asked him to come and paint our kitchen. One day he brought a friend, Ed Mandel, with him to help paint.  Ed was 16 years old.  I would talk to them after I got home from school and really liked John. He was funny and cute!  Well, Ed asked me out on a date and I said yes.  It was my first date!  I was 15.  John drove us as Ed did not have a car.  We went to a carnival in Long Beach.  When we got there, John asked me who I wanted to be with; him or Ed. (I guess he could tell I liked him!) As I look back now, I know it was mean, but I said I wanted to be with John.  So I spent the date with John and on the way home, Ed drove.  John kissed me.  It was my first kiss! We dated for about 2 years. In January 1968 John was killed in a car accident.  My first funeral.  I was very sad and the funeral and beyond was very hard for me.

Fashion. Bellbottoms and crop tops!  Also mini skirts! The skirts had to hit right above the knee.  Girls had to wear skirts/dresses from kindergarten thru 12th grade.  I hated it!

My dad taught me to drive.  He took me over to Loyola University (later Loyola-Marymount) because it had a long driveway/entrance.  I could drive straight and not have to turn.  The car was a stick shift on the steering wheel coloumn. My dad also helped me buy my first car; a red Volkswagen.  I loved that car! I also got in my first accident in that car.  I was driving and looked behind me to talk to my friends in the back seat, and rear-ended the car in front of me.  No one was hurt, except my car.  But it was repaired.

In the summer my friends and I would go to Manhattan, Redondo or Hermosa beach to sunbathe and swim.  That only happened if someone had a car to drive.  Sometimes I would take the bus to Nancy’s house in Playa del Rey and then we would walk to the beach from her house.  Good times.

We were all becoming boy crazy and often went to Loyola University “mixers” (dances).  Since Loyola was still an all boys school, there were no girls to compete with! 🙂 After meeting some boys, we got invited to their fraternity house in Hermosa Beach.  So, many weekends that is where you could find us!

I did lots of babysitting and other odd jobs to earn money. That helped pay for gas for the car.  Before I had my VW I used my mom’s car, if she had one.  Often times she didn’t because it wasn’t working and Jerry would come over to work on it.  My mom would take the bus to work.

I graduated high school in January 1968. One month before my 18th birthday!


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