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Archive for the ‘school’ Category

Carpe Diem by Joyce Cohen

I love your blog and the opportunities you create to reminisce and share. My dad grew up in Phila. (Strawberry Mansion days) and many cousins went to Girls’ High (the boys to Central).

Two stories come to mind…I attended elementary school in a very small town outside Harrisburg, PA 1950s (1 mile long Paxtang). At a recent meeting in Providence, RI a colleague asked “Has anyone been in touch with kids from elementary school days?” While driving back to CT (my home now), I pondered “Who would that be if I did contact someone?” Sure enough, a name came to mind, Christine Waltman.” That was over 60 years ago. I arrived home, listened to voicemail messages and one said “My name is Christine Waltman Seiler and I’m trying to find my friend who went to Paxtang Elementary School in the 1950’s…flash forward…her best friend lives in CT and we all met for a 4 hour lunch 2 months later.

Five years ago I drove to PA to attend our 50th HS Reunion at the request of a HS pal I knew well at that time but not in the 55 years since. She wrote me a personal note to please come and I felt obligated to attend as she also was on the planning committee.

I checked into a hotel, attended a Class of ’63 girls only pre party which was great fun, found my way to the reunion site a few hrs. later, and within minutes reunited with teammates from field hockey and basketball, classes, clubs; the evening flew by. Many of us stayed at the same hotel and the next morning an impromptu mini reunion spontaneously emerged in the lobby over breakfast. Classmates called others who lived locally and it was a magical morning that extended well into the afternoon. Since then,due to some business travel, mini reunions have taken place in Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, Boston and another in Orlando, Jan. ’19 We never know what’s around the corner…Carpe Diem!

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I too went to Girls’ High and remember much of that time fondly. I made several good friends including my very closest pal (Claire Raines Greifer) who sadly passed away in 2000 but will always be in my heart. I still see and attend the orchestra and theater with friends from my class. When it comes to memorable teachers, back then Mrs. Bristol fascinated me (and many others) and we thought very highly of Miss Druding, Miss Clark (our class sponsor) and Miss Dungan. We all adored “Chickie” –Mrs. Chalikian and respected Jack Edelson as a superior teacher. Many years later –and I was an English teacher for about 60 years, only retiring from last job at Penn in 2017, I came to realize that probably the best teacher I had was Selena Adams, my 10B English teacher who held me to the toughest standards I had ever met–and boosted my ego with an “A” on my final report card. Helen Cheney Bailey was also memorable as was a counselor who saw me through some tough times–I think her name was Mrs. or Miss Brendlinger. “They were the best of times and the worst….”

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December: School Days

Recently I was honored to be inducted into the Court of Honor of the The Philadelphia High School for Girls, from which I was graduated in June of 1950.  It was an honor I was delighted and surprised to receive, and I feel sure that my teachers would have been surprised as well.  The expectation was, that along with the six other honorees (only one older than I), I would say a few words to the junior and senior classes at the assembly dedicated to the ceremony.

This was an opportunity to look back and to focus on how our experience in high school remains important in our lives. In my own case, in addition to the appreciation we all expressed for the camaraderie and friendship an all-girls school fostered and the excellence of an academic curriculum, I zeroed in on role models who stood out in the principal and a member of the faculty I never knew personally.  I realize now that the principal’s dignity and kindness were the reason we all loved and revered her, and what seemed like the strangeness of Miss Dungan, a famously soft-spoken English teacher I only knew by sight, are vivid in my memory.  Miss Dungan wore canvas shoes and was known never to wear leather.  World War II had just ended, and we knew that she had not sold War Bonds or Stamps.  She was a vegetarian and a pacifist – the first person I knew of who was a dedicated activist.

Now that I’m working on a book about senior activists, I think of her and wonder if she has hovered in my consciousness all these years.

What do you remember most about high school?  Who has stayed in your mind and why?  Let’s remember together right here. Tell us. 

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