I don’t know if anyone is going to see this, but this is my compilation of musings about my experience of West High school – the extra-curricular activities; the students; the teachers; the memories after 50 years.
I first encountered West High School before it opened. My neighbor, Jim Malmberg, and I rode our bikes to the construction site of the new school in summer of ?1967, and after arriving at the site and wandering around, ran into a tall gentleman who introduced himself as Edwin Barker – the new principal of the soon to be opened school.
I was there when the school first opened to begin my eighth grade year, and thought it was a pretty special place. I spent the next 5 academic years there, along with many classmates.
– Mr. DeSalme –concert band; marching band; jazz band; pep band; orchestra
Pleasure of making music; of marching under the lights on the City High field for the West High football games; of marching in the University of Iowa homecoming parade;
Of being on-stage at Hancher Auditorium for the closing scene of “The Music Man” and playing “76 Trombones” on my trumpet while triumphantly marching across the stage and leading a column up the aisle through the audience – I must confess as I was descending the steps from the stage, I was focused more on not falling on the steps than playing the music, and I lost my place in the song and went up the aisle with lots of swagger, but not playing a single note;
Band trip to Chicago – being impressed with the chops of one of the Chicago suburb high school jazz bands; attending a Chicago Symphony concert and being impressed by their musicianship;
Not fully appreciating the excellence of Dennis Edelbrock on the trumpet; preparing solos and small group pieces for the various music contests; weathering the storm of band members not wearing black shoes for concerts and whether brown shoe wearing musicians would be banned from the performance – hint: they were not; endlessly looping “Pomp and Circumstance” with the other orchestra members during the graduation ceremony for the class ahead of us (which included my sister).
Tom Filer, Don Rinehart, and Robert Cole on percussion; Chris Wilhite, Dan Hackman and Clayton Weir on trombones; John Shepherd on trumpet; Nancy Hug on bassoon; Walt Osborne and Tom Searls on French horn; Theresa Sater on oboe; Deb Dee (?and Jackie Dague) on flute; Cheri McCabe on clarinet; Janet Gregory and Mark Ferguso on saxophone; Dan Bergerud on bass clarinet.
After graduating, for several Decembers being part of an itinerant brass quintet (including Jim Larew and Dennis Edelbrock) playing Christmas carols in bars in downtown Iowa City; on city busses; and in the lobby of the North Tower of the University of Iowa Hospital, with people lining the plexiglass for 6 floors above to listen to us.
Debate and forensics
The encouragement of David Kanellis; the music-making of Mr. Kanellis and his three piece group; attending events at small college campuses; enjoying extemporaneous speaking; being encouraged by Mr. Kanellis to try the radio events but not doing that – I have since been told by a number of people that I have a good “radio voice”, so perhaps a fallback career if I need one; teaming with Kathy Schrock in debate, and she told me about her brother who attended this obscure college – St. Olaf College – then went on to medical school at the University of Iowa – a path I would duplicate; being impressed by the prowess of Judy Becker, Natalie Kanellis, and Craig Becker at these events
I played football from 8th grade through 11th grade, well, more accurately I should say I was on the football team, with limited game time, (thank you coaches for not allowing me to add any CTE suffered during my forgettable football career), during those years. Practice memories include: scabs forming on the back of my hands from people I tackled falling on my hands and driving them into the turf, well more typically dirt; avoiding straight-on contact when Glen McCord as a pulling guard was trying to make like Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers and level me as I was holding a pad in my position as a defensive end and side stepping at the last instant to preserve my well-being (unlike “Rudy” of the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish”;
Drinking water out of my helmet, that was used as a water-holding reservoir during two-a-day practices in August – is this FDA approved?; taking pride in how un-scarred I could keep my helmet, in contrast to the helmets of Tracy Hirt and Dick Ball; being impressed by how high Keith Johnson could punt the football; the excitement of being part of the team running onto the field at City High for our home games under the lights on Friday nights; my pride in causing and recovering a fumble against the City High JV, that subsequently led to Gary Yoder scoring a touchdown and became the first time a West High football team defeated a City High football team; being levelled by Jim Martin (a 250 lb defensive lineman in the class ahead of us, who went on to be a small college all-conference player) during a tackling drill and seeing stars and thinking that as a 140 lb defensive back, I might have more fun the next year being on the cross country team; the supportive coaching of Gary Hollingsworth, Lloyd Dill, Dean Frerichs, Don Lamm, Dennis Bahr
I’m giving away secrets now, but after 50 years, this should be archived: learning songs on the team bus that may not have been carried forward as a tradition, but should not be forever lost . The official West High fight song was written by Regina Gelman when she was, I believe, a senior and I was an eighth grader. An unofficial West High fight song that I learned on the football team bus coming home from a game (which I don’t remember if we won or lost):
“Oooooh, we’re the mighty Trojans
The r—-s of the night
We’re dirty sons of b—–s
And we’d rather f—k than fight
Oh hidey hidey C—-t almighty
Who the h—l are we?
S—t, f—k, c—k, s—k
The West High Varsity”
Please do not forward this, or attribute it to me or circulate on social media.
During my senior year, running during practices coached by Jerry Bush; practicing with Jeff Hartzler and Mark Kozik and Greg Leichty; doing 5 mile runs from campus through University Heights with Jeff and Mark and occasionally Mark Parker – sometimes during gym class, allowed by Mr. Bush – appreciated that he trusted us to not being doing something illicit and allowing us off-campus when that probably was not “officially” approved; kicking a 40 yard field goal during cross country practice while wearing running shoes; having more fun playing football during cross country practice than I did when I was on the football team; having cross country meets on various golf courses in eastern Iowa – no better surface for running
Running on the looping street in front of the school in Converse basketball shoes; training on the dirt path around the football field behind the school; running on the cinders at the City High track; running my first 880 and having no sense of pace and leading everyone by 20 yards after the first lap and then dropping out exhausted 100 yards into the second lap; loaning Jeff Hartzler my $12 spikes; buying my first pair of Adidas running shoes for $15 since the kangaroo leather “Gazelles” were way too expensive at $25; seeing John Waite snap a pole while pole vaulting; watching Don “White Lightning” Rinehart sprinting; being coached by Gary Hollingsworth, who probably could have still out-run us all; attending the Drake Relays and being impressed by the caliber of the athletes and the excitement of the crowd
Humanities class taught by Dr. Brooke Workman – our class elected to study the 1920s and for my paper I chose to write about why prohibition was enacted; did research at the University of Iowa main library, finding magazine articles from the 1920s in the main stacks at the library, and gained a better understanding of the thought process at that time – understanding only exceeded by seeing Ken Burns’ treatment of the subject in his documentary; being impressed at the attention to detail given by Dr. Workman to reviewing my paper – he found that I missed a comma in one of my direct quotations – who goes to that trouble? What a teacher! What would he think of ChatGPT?
Math classes taught by Dean Frerichs – he introduced us to punch cards and Fortran – my thinking at the time was, what busywork – who will ever want to spend time doing this?
Biology class with Dale Dye – I remember he had our class debate; “Bacteria – Good or Bad”? How profound and mind stretching.
English class with Lucille McCarthy – I honestly do not remember what we read, (? Huck Finn, Shakespeare?) but I appreciated her earnestness and she scheduled time for one-on-one sessions with us to talk about our future plans, which I really appreciated
German class – with Frau Sjeklocha and subsequently Frau Galer. When I first signed up for a foreign language, I signed up for Latin, thinking in my long term mindset that a future doctor (me, hopefully) should be well-versed in Latin, and after the first day of class being told by Walt Osborne — here comes the non-PC statement – “Have you seen the German teacher? What a babe!” He was right, and I dropped Latin and transferred into the German class that day.
Shop class in junior high with Mr. Bader – also known as the “Master Bader” by some rapscallions; making birdhouses and learning how to solder and rivet
Gym class – memory of first time wearing a jockstrap; flag football, basketball, dodgeball; , doing the Presidential fitness test (finally got the award when my softball throw improved); first day I was able to jump and touch the rim of a basketball hoop – an ability long-since lost; the smell of some people’s (who will not be named) gym clothes that went unwashed for untold eons
Goofing off – playing “HORSE” with Paul Roberts in the gym – with increasingly creative shots, a la the subsequent McDonald’s commercial with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan; playing table tennis with Jim Houghton, whose tennis skill carried over to this game; jumping on the trampoline with Duane Eash – and being unwilling to attempt a backflip, even with the safety harness, for fear of doing irreparable harm to myself
Great vacation – taking a trip to Steamboat, Colorado with Duane Eash, and Mike Saeugling and going skiing in thigh-deep powder in blue jeans and not having any idea how to do this – only prior snow experience had been sledding on Iowa hills – 3 day lift ticket for $18.
Other random memories
Being impressed by Jim Peterson’s extensive knowledge base – he explained why wagon wheels appear to be rotating backward – our retina records 5 images a second so as it captures the images the spoke may be behind the prior captured image and give the illusion of rotating the direction opposite to the direction it actually is rotating
Betsy Elliot making like her brother and blitzing the quarterback in a “powder puff” football game
Jo Miller on the uneven parallel bars – Jo will remember the incident
WARNING: **Another non-PC statement** – (it has been 50 years, that was another time, and I’m doing this remotely so no one can slap me, and the intent of the statement is complimentary); the memory of our “hot” West High cheerleaders in their little skirts
The pocket-protector wearing, briefcase with a slide rule carrying individuals – you know who you are – who blended into the big happy West High family.
The integration of a foreign species – “former University High students” – into our West High family.
Perhaps I am being somewhat naïve or I was unaware of things that went on, but it seemed to me that our diverse group of students co-existed peacefully – live and let live. Perhaps because we had lived through the harsh reality of the Vietnam war on television; the Vietnam war protests in Iowa City and the cataclysmic events of the JFK, RFK, and MLK assassinations, we had some perspective on life and what really matters. Or perhaps our frontal lobe development and Iowa upbringing combined to make us good classmates.
Quoting from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” – “The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.” I don’t know that we had all these sub-categories in our class, but there did seem to be a spirit of tolerance for everyone.
I would REALLY like to be there for the reunion, but I have an important commitment in another time zone. Thank you for being great classmates those many years ago, and best wishes for the reunion and future days.
West High School – Iowa City
Class of 1973