though the web page that Rick Hinton is so lovingly and carefully maintaining
for us has been a real trip. As I
look at the faces and feel the flood of memories, I have been making a list of
those classmates for whom the memories are vivid enough to share. There have seen numerous other
classmates that I faintly remember from band, or student council, or a club, or
an honor society (National and Math), or swim team. However, the only ones who are getting
chronicled in my reminiscing are the ones that I logged enough time with that
the memory has lasted through the intervening years.
Rodger Aidman - Rodger and I had many
classes together during our three years at Southwest. We were never especially close, but always friendly. I would occasionally bump into Rodger on
the walk to or from school and we would walk together for a few blocks before he
turned off. He lived about half the
distance I did from Southwest. I
lived just up the street form Blue Lakes Elementary. What I remember most about Rodger was
his sincerity and tendency to tell you quite bluntly what was on his mind. I have always found this quite
refreshing, and wish I had told him then that his candor and frankness was
appreciated. It was good to see
Rodger at the 30-year reunion and see that he is still blunt and candid.
Mark Bainbridge - I do not believe that I
had a single class with Mark, but he always seemed to be in my circle of
friends. Especially by senior year,
he and Robin Koperski, Carl Passoff, Mickey Ross, and an occasional alternate
would go golfing while I did yard work or pool work, and then we would meet up
in the evening to play cards or goof off. It
was good to see Mark at the 30-year reunion.
I had not seen him since graduation and have stories to tell about how
the date that I took to Mark’s graduation party decided that she liked Robin
better than she did me, so we traded dates for Carl Passoff’s graduation party
the following weekend. Not a wise
move on anyone’s part!
Ray Bare - Ray and I were in the same
home room at Riviera and remained friends even though our paths crossed less and
less at Southwest. However, three
years after graduation while he was pitching for the Detroit Tigers, Ray invited
my wife Jennifer and I to attend a charity dinner at a local country club where
he and several other members of the Tigers ball club were modeling clothes as a
fund-raising effort. It was a fun
evening and I have often thought of Ray and wondered where he ended up. I was very saddened to see that he is
among the "Fallen Eagles."
Wayne Bartlett - I was in several classes
with Wayne, and he was close friends with some of my close friends. My memories of Wayne are of a quite,
well-mannered, gentleman. Wayne
either had something positive to say or said nothing at all. Folks like that are great to have around!
Lesta Brooks - For some reason, I always
felt like Lesta perceived a competition between us that I never grasped. She remains one of the brightest and
intellectually talented folks that I have met, and I have met quite a few. Toward the end of our senior year when
it was quite apparent that I would not finish in the top ten of our class, Lesta
seemed to dismiss the sense of competition and we finished as friends. Maybe it was because I lost, but I
prefer to believe that she finally determined that I was okay in my obnoxious
Karen Cole - Karen and I had many
classes together and while others would get annoyed at my antics to attract
attention and try to be liked, Karen would actually smile. I am not sure if she was amused or only
tolerating me, but I certainly enjoyed those smiles.
Barbara Cox - I always thought that
Barbara had a regal countenance. She
was always poised and never flustered like I was. I do not believe that it was my habit of doing my homework in
the class before, or my failure to study for tests and exams that brought on my
insecurity. I think that it is just
the way I am! Through it all, I was
in awe of Barbara. My memories of
her still provide my definition of “class act.”
Bev Davis - My memories of Bev usually
bring to mind a majorette costume and a baton.
She and Mary Lynn put twirling in a new light for me. I had never taken it seriously until I
saw how much effort and energy that Bev and Mary Lynn put into it and how
entirely serious they were of providing a solo performance that would delight
and amaze the audience. I have
always admired folks who developed a passion for something and Bev was
passionate about her role as soloist baton twirler. Our paths crossed again when I wrote a letter to Bev’s
daughter shortly after our 20-year reunion.
Bev was very pleased that I would take the time to share my memories with
a young person that had only heard stories of her dad from other relatives.
Kathy Eckert - The image that immediately
comes to mind is one of physical vitality.
I always tried to be respectful around Kathy because I thought that she
could probably knock me down and sit on me before I knew what was happening. I am sure this sounds quite strange,
especially since I do not remember what sports Kathy played, but she always
struck me as being in tip-top condition. My
attempts at gymnastics ended with a broken wrist and my three-years on the swim
team were not very illustrious, but Kathy always inspired me to want to do
Debbie Ellison - Just like all the other
boys in our class, I thought that Debbie was breathtakingly attractive. However, unlike all the other boys that
also knew that Debbie would not stoop to date a boy of our immature age and
experience, I got up the nerve to ask her to dance at one sock hop. After that single encounter, Debbie
would expect me to find her for one dance at every sock hop and would jokingly
refer to me as her slow-dance partner. Eat
your hearts out guys, I held Debbie in my arms not once, but multiple times. I will admit that getting up the nerve
to ask her to dance that first time was harder than throwing my first backflip
off the roof of Robin’s car or my first plunge into the rockpit off the cliff
at Miller and Galloway. I have
wished many times over the years that I had gotten up the nerve to ask her on a
date. However, I have also wondered
over the years what I would have done if she said yes! With no car, no money, and no
sophistication, I do not believe that Debbie would have considered it much of a
Carol Evans - Since Carol was on the
swim team all three years, I spent more time undressed with Carol than anyone
else until I got married. Oh, yes,
we had on speedo bathing suits, but they don’t leave much to the imagination. And, yes, she was going steady with
Denny Skagseth virtually the entire three years, but I still felt closer to
Carol than most of the girls I dated. Which
may be another of the reasons why I didn’t get many “second dates.” I would love to have Carol join our
“Keep in Touch” program, but Denny has failed to inform me of her email
address, and I have chosen to quit bugging him about it.
Dan Frost – Although Dan and I never
spent time together at Southwest, we attended some parties together and hung out
together during ninth grade at Riviera. Dan was large in stature, but also kind
of heart and enjoyed having fun. Dan introduced me to some friends of his that I
never would have met on my own and I was sorry that our paths separated when we
Karen Garner – Karen and I had a short
but sweet telephone romance during either eighth or ninth grade. With no means
of transportation, my idea of a "hot date" was a lengthy phone
conversation where absolutely nothing of consequence was ever mentioned. I
remember Karen as being very serious and almost brooding about things. I never
got the courage to ask Karen on a real date after learning to drive.
Sharon Gibbs – While most of the girls
in the honors and accelerated classes were annoyed by my antics in class, Sharon
was always a staunch supporter. I am not sure what she saw in me back then, but
she was always there with a smile and a kind word. We were often paired up for
school events during our senior year and ended up going to Senior Prom together.
I lost touch with Sharon after graduation and would appreciate any information
on how she is doing or where she is located. Susan Losey provided an update of
the years immediately following high school, but has also lost touch with
Rick Godfrey – Although our paths
crossed numerous times, my memories of Rick center around his involvement on the
swim team. His success in the water did not come as effortlessly as did Denny
Skagseth’s or mine, but he exhibited a dedication and determination that Denny
and I could have benefited from. Denny and I preferred to give swimming just the
minimum of hard work and then coast by based on raw talent. Rick did not have
the talent, so he gave the 110% that you often hear about but rarely see.
Jim Goudie – Jim and I were never
more than acquaintances even though his large family lived several doors down
the same street as my large family. I was the oldest of six children and Jim was
towards to oldest of an equally large family. I wonder why he and I never found
more in common. Maybe because he went out for football and I competed in
Gay Harris – Gay and I had classes
together throughout our three years at Southwest and shared many of the same
friends. I always had a fondness for Gay, but my memories of Gay will always be
centered around another classmate that felt much the same way about Gay as I did
for Nancy Smith. He had the same torment over his unreciprocated affection for
Gay as I did for Nancy. Late at night we would slip into melancholy states in
which the conversation would invariably turn to Gay and Nancy.
Bob Hauser – Bob and I were in
classes together. My recollections of Bob are as a schemer and planner. He was
always looking for the "angle", and yet always friendly and
Mary Lynn Hendrickson – Mary Lynn was always
concerned for my soul and disturbed by my sinner behavior, and yet she always
saw a spark of good in me that caused her to endure my antics and even agree to
date me from time to time. However, our relationship was so platonic that she
usually relaxed to the point that she slept on my shoulder! We double dated with
Denny Skagseth and Carol Evans a couple of times and Mary Lynn would invariably
be asleep against my shoulder before the evening was out. I was pleased that
Mary Lynn was that comfortable and safe in my company. Denny thought I was nuts
for asking out someone who was obviously bored with me. My relationship with
Mary Lynn was also highlighted by the number of times that Robin Koperski and I
would be cruising Miller Road late at night (or early in the morning) and see
that the light was on at the Hendrickson household. We would always stop in to
render assistance. On one occasion that assistance involved providing Mary Lynn
and her sister Marcia a ride to the airport, on another occasion we delivered
Mary Lynn to her church for some activity. Robin and I were always pleased with
the way the three Hendrickson women would happily greet us no matter what time
of the day or night we stopped by. We also were pleased that the three of them
were comfortable and confident enough in us to take us up on our offer of
assistance. I will always feel a brotherly protectiveness for Mary Lynn, and I
sincerely hope that she no longer believes that my soul is in need of saving.
Jackie Hofher – Jackie’s mom and my
mother met through girl scouts or some other capacity, and Jackie’s mom
engaged me for handyman chores a couple of times after learning of my need for
money. Jackie thought that it was totally inappropriate for someone she knew
from school to be performing chores for a dollar and hour. Jackie never forgave
me for that activity and looked at me strangely throughout the remainder of our
time together at Southwest.
Pat Kaczaraba – I do not remember a
single smile from my days at Southwest that was as bright and radiant as
Pat’s. Pat was another girl from our class that I always wanted to ask out,
but was afraid that I would not be able to deal with a negative response.
Therefore, I simply basked in the warmth of her smile for three years.
Nancy Kantor – Memory escapes me here
as it does with numerous other classmates, but I do remember that at some point
during our three years at Southwest I had a crush on Nancy. I do know that we
never dated, and I do not believe that we had many classes together, but,
never-the-less, at some point I remember developing a crush on Nancy.
Naida Katz – Naida moved to the
Riviera school district only a short time before I did and therefore she and Ida
Pollack and I shared a table in accelerated math class (all the desks were
occupied). This was the start of a warm and cordial friendship. We were both on
Nancy Smith’s student council cabinet in ninth grade, and as a result of our
service to the school we were awarded the his and hers American Legion Awards at
the ninth grade honors ceremony. Naida always had a kind word and tolerated my
antics better than most. Possibly because there was never a love interest
Mary Kearns – Mary was on the swim
team our freshman year, and when Denny Skagseth and Carol Evans paired up, I
thought it would be appropriate to pair up with Mary. She thought that death
would be preferable and told me in no uncertain terms to take a hike. Mary’s
rejection was one of the most brutal until my wife Jennifer told me the second
summer that we dated that she had better things to do with her time. However, I
obviously persevered with Jennifer and everything worked out after all. I guess
that perseverance comes with age and maturity. I wish that I had gained the
experience of perseverance while still in high school.
Glen Kluge – My memory of Glen is as
a gentle giant. He rarely seemed to lose his patience, and never tried to force
an outcome based on "might makes right." He and I definitely spent
more time together at Riviera than we did at Southwest, but Glen always seemed
genuinely glad to see me (which is probably how he greeted everyone) and always
had a kind word.
Pat Lane - For some reason Pat always
intimidated me. She made being
smart look easy while most of the others in our accelerated classes had to work
at it. I was always awed by those
few students that seemed prepared and unalarmed by every test and exam. If Pat was ever worried, she certainly
never showed it. Of course, I had a
right to be worried, I never studied for a test the whole way through high
school. This I later found out was
a major source of annoyance to Mickey Ross, but that’s another story.
Kathy Lassiter - Kathy and I were in Band
together, but our friendship went back to the days will her brother Bill
recruited me to join his Boy Scout Troop that met at the Methodist Church in
South Miami (corner of Dixie Highway and I believe Red Road). Kathy would often tag along when her mom
and/or dad would give Bill and me a ride to or from the troop meeting. Seeing me in a Boy Scout uniform
probably helped Kathy to not be fooled by the “confident and unapproachable”
image that others have reported me exhibiting.
I only wish I had that confidence. Life
would have been much simpler and less stressful. Kathy was extremely active in out “Keep in Touch” program
when it first started up. She
provides several updates about her four boys and what they were up to. I would love to coax her into further updates.
Jim Lenehan - I am not sure how Jim and
I hooked up, but before either of us could drive, we gravitated together because
of a love to party. Jim and I went
two or three times to the initially YMCA and later YMHA to dances. I believe that he was as girl-crazy as I
was. We both would hope to meet
some cute girl and sweep her off her feet, but our plan of attack was lacking. We stood around most of the evening
watching others dance and wondered whether we would be turned down if we asked
someone to dance. On our last
outing, I finally got the nerve to ask a young lady to dance, but her brother
and his friends determined that she was not available to dance with me. Jim was as scared by the encounter as I
was and this proved to be our last outing together.
Susan Losey - I have already shared my
recollections of Susan with her, but now I will share with the rest of you. Susan had the misfortune of sitting
behind me in several of our classes. I
remember her annoyance at my frequent comments and her “shushing” me to be
quiet. I remember looking back from
time to time and seeing this scowl that had “boys can be so immature!”
written all over it. Now, thirty
years later, Susan has proven to been one of the most active participants in our
“Keep in Touch” efforts, and I will be eternally grateful. Susan is also one of the few classmates
that has gotten to know my wife which also pleases me. I am hoping that Jennifer will attend the next reunion with
me. However, she has made it clear
that she will not drive to Florida again under any circumstance. Therefore, if I drive to the reunion I
will be coming alone.
Kathy Lubeck - Kathy is another one of
our classmates that I remember with a perpetual smile. She always seemed to be infected with a
highly contagious form of happiness. Kathy
is another one of the girls in the accelerated class that I always wanted to ask
out, but never got the nerve. These
were the girls that I spent several hours with on a daily basis. If they said no or had a boring time
(like Mary Lynn) then I believed it would be immediately reported to every other
classmate and the only alternative would be to move to another state. As a result, I usually asked out girls
that were not part of that inner circle of friends. Years later I experience the regret.
Vickie Madsen - Vickie was Carl
Passoff’s date to both Homecoming and Prom our senior year (and possibly
junior as well) and since I double dated to these events, I got to see Vickie
outside of the classroom and student organization. Vickie was always upbeat, always
cheerful, and seemed to genuinely enjoy being around Carl and I which is more
than I can say for my dates to some of these events. Senior year Prom was probably the most
pleasant because Sharon Gibbs was from that inner circle of friends. Most of the other dates seemed to be
catastrophes after who ever I had invited found out that Carl, Mickey Ross, And
others that we would meet up with were only people and not as exciting as they
had imagined. I should have learned
my lesson somewhere along the line, but I kept trying to bring an outsider and
expect her to be comfortable. As a
credit to Vickie, she always tried to make my date comfortable by being friendly
with her even if she was a “stranger.”
Helen Manion - My memories of Helen are
through student council and other extra curricular organizations. I remember Helen as being one of the
hardest working and dedicated individuals in our class. She could always be counted on to get whatever task was
assigned to her completed and done well.
Carl and Roger McCaskill - One of the McCaskill twins
dropped out off the swim team the same time as I recovered from a broken wrist
incurred when I fell off the high-bar in gymnastics and decided to join the swim
team rather than remain on the gymnastic team.
I believe it was Roger that sold me his speedo suit and Carl that
remained on the team as a backstroker. In
any event, I became friends with the McCaskills though involvement on the swim
Julianne McDade - Julianne was in several of
my classes and I found her to be “very easy of the eyes.” There was something about Julianne that
could set me into a trance of a daydream. I
never felt an urge to ask her out, but I could watch her for hours. Of course, this is how I spent the time
in the majority of my classes. It
was particularly upsetting to some teachers that when they caught me not paying
attention and asked me a question (to teach me a lesson), I would invariably
give the correct answer. Just cause
my eyes were elsewhere and my daydreaming mode in operation did not mean that I
could not “multi-task” by listening to the lecture. Julianne was also very active in student
council and other organizations.
Allen Marks - I thought that Allen and
Richard Ross were the two funniest folks in our class. The speed at which Allen could come back
with a remark or wise-crack was amazing. I
was always a bit jealous of his quick wit and propensity for humor. I always though that folks preferred
someone who made them laugh and since I always wanted to be liked, I too tried
to make people laugh. I just
didn’t have the knack for it that Allen did.
Larry Mathison - Our paths did not cross
much at Southwest, but I remember Larry throwing a softball farther in junior
high than I ever believed possible. If
I threw a softball, walked to where it landed and threw again from there it
still would not out distance Larry’s best throw. Isn’t it funny the things that some folks will remember
Derby Minton - Derban and I were kindred
spirits of a sort. She and I both
felt awed by the other classmates in our accelerated classmates, and her antics
and comments were just as annoying to other classmates as were mine. I on the other hand enjoyed her
occasional comments and we would encourage each other. It wasn’t that we felt that the other
classmates were so much smarter that we were, it was that they took the whole
classroom experience so much more serious than we did. We were not obtaining “gems of
wisdom” to aid us later in life, we were learning how to relate with other
people and function in society. I think that somehow Derban and I started to see that at an
earlier point in the process.
Welyne Morton - Welyne was always my image
of a true “southern bell.” She
had manners and the grace no matter what she was tackling. She was another classmate that rarely
seemed to get flustered. She
obviously did not approve of the antics of “immature little boys,” and yet
she was always kind and friendly to me. Late
in our senior year we had some short chats between classes and I realized what a
real friend she had been over the years.
completes my reminiscing through the letter “M.” However, there is one definition that I would like to provide
to help put something into context.
Dating - During my days in high
school and even into college, a date was a means to spend some time alone with
someone and find out what their goals and passions were, to discuss their
greatest fears and worries, to find out what uniquely made them who they were. I was not the Casanova that I was
sometimes given credit for. My
greatest joy was in simply communicating with someone. I did not realize at the time that this
can be more threatening to some girls than putting physical moves on them. Evidently, they are coached on how to
respond to the physical moves but not coached on how to respond to a frank and
earnest discussion of some taboo topic. So
when I mention my wanting to date someone, please realize that I simply wanted
to get to know them better. There
are many classmates who have touched my soul, but there are many more who I wish
I had taken the time and had the chance to touch their soul and let them touch
mine. I firmly believe that this is
what the “Keep in Touch” program is all about. We have the vehicle through these emails
to touch each others souls a little. I
am hoping that more of you will choose to do so.
I certainly expect reactions and rebuttals from the classmates that I
have reminisced over and are currently online.
Chris Nelson – Chris and I were in a
couple of classes together and I remember Chris struggling in them as much as I
did. Neither one of us was ever in danger of failing, but we both had difficulty
lifting our grade from a B to an A. Chris ended up working for one of the same
South Florida banks as my mom did and they became friends. I got to see Chris
and her then husband once about ten years after graduation. After my mother
retired from the bank, I lost touch with Chris. By the way, anybody who finds it
strange that my mother would end up being friends with one of my classmates
needs to understand that my mother really does pass as my sister. She was barely
18 when I was born and, although she is celebrating her 70th birthday
in July, she looks much younger.
Jeanne Newman – Jeanne (if memory serves
me) was in my homeroom at Riviera and we also had classes together at Southwest.
I know that she would shoot my for saying this, but I always thought that she
had a stereotypical "little girl" disposition. She could be
delightfully happy and friendly one moment and then thoroughly angry and
standoffish the next with no apparent provocation. Now I must admit that the
"little boy" in me found this disposition totally alluring. I never
knew where I stood which kept me entranced. By the way, for those that missed
the 30-year reunion, Jeanne looked stunning. She has definitely aged more
gracefully than most of the rest of us. It is a melancholy times like this that
I miss my hair the most.
Zavie Newmark – Zavie was in the same
accelerated classes as I was. I am not sure where Zavie finished in our class
standing, I believe it was higher than I did, I just remember that Zavie never
seemed to worry about it. In fact, I don’t remember Zavie worrying about much
of anything. He always seemed to take things in stride. I wonder whether he is
still as easy going? I hope that Sarah will confirm or dispute this observation.
Nora Nobles – Thoughts of Nora remind
me of the expression "big things come in small packages." I remember
Nora has having a high energy level and being a tireless worker. For the life of
me, I can’t remember what I worked on with Nora. Somehow, I find it easy to
envision Nora subduing a misbehaving teenager.
Bill Oakerson – I remember Bill as being
extremely serious about everything he did. From Football to classes to student
government, he always seemed to have a no-nonsense approach. However, Bill used
to encourage others who were more fun loving. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy
being amused. Moreover, it appeared that he respected the ability of others to
Walter Olszack – I remember being amazed
by how serious Walter was about playing his trumpet. For me, band was another
form of diversion to keep me busy and away from my home. Walter, Arthur
Schneebalg, Peggy Ervin, and a number of other classmates really took their
music seriously. But the amazing part was that they genuinely seemed to enjoy
it. Although it was hard to appreciate at the time. I have come to respect their
dedication and commitment. What is more, I regret that it took me so long to
find a career calling that I could approach as passionately.
Carl Passoff – I have documented my
memories of Carl in previous messages, but some thoughts are worth repeating.
Carl has always been one of the most genuinely thoughtful and considerate people
that I have ever known. I do not believe that he would ever intentionally hurt
someone’s feelings. Nor can I envision Carl have something mean or derogatory
to say about anyone. He was always fun to be around because he was always
upbeat. Anyone who would continue to go out for varsity basketball when he was
as undersized as Carl, has to have a positive attitude. And when it came to
track, this positive attitude turned into a real confidence. Carl knew that
there was no one at Southwest that could catch him at any distance short of 200
yards. He just plain enjoyed sports and it rubbed off on his three kids.
Ida Pollack – Although our paths
rarely crossed after we got to Southwest, because of our sharing a table in
seventh grade math class, we always has a common bond that kept us cordial. I
remember attending a party at her house in eighth or ninth grade that was one of
the most enjoyable of my pre-Southwest years.
Ann Pottenger – Anne was always sweet
and polite. We had a number of classmates who were kind and considerate, and
Anne was one of the kindest. I always enjoyed being around Anne because she
didn’t make me feel like a person and not a kid. Anne was a person that I
always thought enjoyed and respected other people. Consequently, everyone seemed
to enjoy being around Ann.
Kerry Rainey – Kerry was not in many of my classes, but he was always in the thick of things from a student council or extra-curricular standpoint. Kerry was usually very serious and it was sometimes rare to see him smile, but he would light up the room when he did smile. I remember him as Mr. Basketball. He and Carl Passoff were devoted to a sport that Southwest never seemed to take seriously. I would have enjoyed seeing Kerry play small forward on a team with a truly impressive center and big forward. I was advised that Kerry played an active roll in planning one of the first reunions. It would be great to get Kerry into the “Keep in Touch” program.
Alfredo Rodriquez – Alfredo was another classmate who I had contact with mainly through extra-curricular activities. My recollections of Alfredo is of someone who was always up-beat and with a positive attitude. I also remember him carrying a torch for one of the cheerleaders. Wasn’t it Naida Katz that Alfredo was so smitten by?
Ron Rondeau – Ron was another one of
our classmates that I new from extra-curricular activities rather than classes. I remember Ron as being more serious
about sports than classes. I
believe he was one of several classmates that was genuinely convinced that the
purpose of high school was to promote sports and fun times. I always thought that Ron was very
handsome. Not as good looking as
Ray Bare, but definitely in the top ten of our class.
Mickey Ross – Mickey was always my
image of poise and confidence. I
always envied the fact that he seemed to always have a firm grasp on what was
happening and what he wanted its outcome to be. It surprised me when Mickey confided in me about five years
after graduation and again just five years ago in Atlanta that he was jealous of
me in high school. I still do not
understand how someone as together and on top of things as Mickey could be
jealous of someone as out of step as I was (and still am). I believe that part of Mickey’s
reaction was based on my habit of never cracking a book and only completing my
homework in the prior class. Mickey
recognized the importance of good grades in getting where he wanted to go, and
consequently took all his classes very seriously.
That is how someone becomes valedictorian. I never felt that I was in competition with Mickey because I
never saw myself in the same league. I
always had complete confidence that Mickey would be successful career-wise. I have yet to visit the website of his
law firm, but I am willing to bet that it will uphold my confidence.
Richard Ross – My memory of Richard
brings to mind a caustic wit that was remarkable. I remember always needing to stay on my toes around Richard
for fear that I would miss something. He
was always making comments and derogatory remarks about everything and was
usually quite funny. However, his
humor could also become quite personal when his satirical wit turned to other
classmates. I felt the sting of
Richard’s remarks on numerous occasions, and the real point of frustration was
that he was often right on the mark with his observation. I am delighted that Richard is now part
of the “Keep in Touch” program and am anxiously waiting for comments.
Tom Roth – Tom was part of the
group that I hung with. He was good
friends with David Gato and Bill Oakerson, and quickly became friends with
others from the accelerated classes. Tom
was quiet and unassuming, but he enjoyed a good laugh and was an active
participant in our group activities.
John Rotunno – John was another
classmate that I associated with due to extra-curricular activities, and was
another classmate who was more committed to sports and good times than he was to
classes. My main recollection of
John was that he was truly big and intimidating. I am glad that he and I were friends. I would have really hated to have annoyed him to the point of
Art Schneebalg – Since I was not active in Band my senior year, it is difficult for me to remember all the classmates that I spent time with in musical pursuits my first two years at Southwest. Art is one of those classmates that still sticks out in my mind as a dedicated and talented trumpet player. As with Walter Olszack, I now have a respect and admiration that at the time was more surprise and confusion. I simply did not appreciate at the time how someone could already identify their passion and become devoted to it.
Paul Segura – I did not have much interaction with Paul in high school. I was not on the football team, and Paul was somewhat single minded about football. However, when the season ended our senior year, I remember a number of football players opening ranks and becoming more tolerant of us lesser mortals. Paul was one of those that I remember rubbing shoulders with a couple times senior year and wondering why I hadn’t struck a friendship with him earlier in our high school experience. It was good to see Paul at the 30-year-reunion. He seemed to be very much enjoying himself and I enjoyed seeing him again.
Dale Sino – Dale was in several classes with me and I thought her very personable. She was always friendly and seemed to be perpetually happy. While most of the rest of us had up days and down days, Dale seemed to have a more stable outlook.
Denny Skagseth – I have chronicled my recollections of Denny in earlier messages. We were the only two sophomores to letter in swimming our first year a Southwest. The time that we logged together traveling to and from the Sheeler-Winton Swim Complex on South Dixie Highways for two years and then the Snapper Creek Complex our senior year has created a bond that will last forever. Coach Ross drove a school bus to most practices our sophomore year, but we were forced to car pool in all the later years. Denny invariably provided me a ride, and afterwards we would occasionally go get something to eat. Our favorite place to go after practice was Shorty’s on US1 south of Dadeland. I doubt that we went more than a half dozen times, but those are fond memories. Denny and I also double dated several times. Since Carol Evans was a majorette, I would usually ask Mary Lynn to accompany me as reported earlier. On several occasions, Denny showed up at my house after midnight to get me to prowl with him for a while. Since I had moved into the back half of the garage part way though my junior year, Denny knew to come to the side door of the garage and knock on the jalousie window until I woke up and let him in. He would then badger me to put on shirt and pants so that I could cruise the neighborhoods with him until he had wound down enough to go home.
Linda Suggs – I barely remember Linda from high school days, but she made a big impression on me at the 30-year reunion. She was there alone as I was; she was floating around the room trying to visit with everyone as I was; and she had the biggest smile and overall appearance of having a great time just as I did. Besides her obvious enjoyment of the event, I was also quite stricken by the fact that Linda looked far to young to be a member of our class. In fact, until I recognized her (from looking in my yearbook that I brought with me) I wondered what she was doing at our reunion.
Vince Thornton – Vince and I were in classes together at Riviera and struck up a friendship that somewhat survived our years at Southwest when we rarely saw each other. Vince got involved in what seemed at the time to be the “counter-culture.” I believe that Vince was experimenting in activities that most other classmates were totally unfamiliar with. I know that I was!
Dennis Tomason – My only memory of Dennis from high school days is with a camera in front of his face. I remember him being so active photographing all kinds of events that I became immune to it. Dennis came to the 30-year reunion with a shoebox, and I remember wondering at one point what he had in the shoebox. I had brought both the 1966 and 1967 yearbooks, so I wondered what kind of a keepsake would fit in a shoebox. Towards the end of the evening, Dennis dumped the shoebox out on a table. It contained pictures Dennis had taken throughout our high school experience and he requested that we take any that we were interested in. I ended up with several pictures that my wife and daughter were amazed by. My son is too much of a stoic to care about pictures of his dad as a kid.
Alan Trupkin – Alan was in a number of my classes and was a good friend of Mickey Ross and Carl Passoff. The four of us logged a lot of time in Carl’s pool playing water polo and other contests. Alan was the perpetual skeptic. He was always somewhat negative and suspicious. However, the memory that sticks with me is how unfailing I believed his devotion to be to those he considered his friends.
Jeannette Van der Valk – I developed a crush on Jeannette while at Riviera. However, during the Riviera years I was too focused on my affection for Nancy Smith to pursue Jeannette. Somewhere along the way she and Mickey Ross became a couple and it was too late to pursue her. I have fond memories of my friendship with Jeannette. She was always kind and supportive. Jeannette will always be my image of a homecoming and prom princess. She will always be a princess to me. Jeannette is one of several classmates that I am sorry that I got out of touch with. If email was available 30 years ago, contact with other classmates might not have lapsed and the effort to get everyone tracked down would be much easier.
Diana Van Wyck – Diana was both a classmate and “bridge buddy.” One of my favorite pass-times was to invite classmates over when I was babysitting on the weekends to play bridge. I cleared this with the parents of the kids I looked after, and since they knew what a conscientious babysitter I was, they usually agreed. The three folks that I counted on the most to complete the bridge table were Diana, Carl Passoff, and Robin Koperski. These were great times. I was earning money for college (50 cents and hour) while enjoying the company of good friends.
George Wilkins – Although we did not have many classes together, George’s and my paths seemed to cross frequently at Southwest. I remember George as being friendly and cheerful throughout high school. He seemed to be having a good time and enjoying himself. So many of the rest of us were in a perpetual state of unease over what was going to happen next. My memory of George was that he did not seem as worried about things as the rest of us.
Nancy Wityak – If memory serves me, Nancy was in my homeroom at Riviera. We had numerous classes together at Southwest. I remember Nancy as being the consummate cheerleader. Anything worth doing was worth getting excited over, and she could lead a cheer in any setting. I always wondered where her energy came from. How can anyone stay “up” for as long as Nancy could.