01 April 2010

Happy Days!

I was going through a bunch of papers and things that my mother had put aside for me before she died and I came across a photograph of my grammar school fist grade class. You can see it below and you can click on it to make it larger. I am in the top row, the last one on the left. One thing that struck me right away is that we all seem to be happy in this picture. I believe that's because we definitely were. The early 1950's was a good time to be growing up on the Northwest Side of Chicago. We lived in a little patch of paradise and we didn't even know it. All of our fathers were sufficiently employed and the majority of our mothers were home makers. We walked only a couple blocks to school, and each school day began with attendance at 8:am mass. At noon we walked home and our mothers had a hot lunch waiting for us. When it was time for the five minute walk back to school we gathered in the schoolyard and we waited for the nuns' favorite eighth grade girl to ring a big hand bell to summon us inside. The school day ended at 3:30 and we hurried home to watch the Mickey Mouse Club, Garfield Goose, and Kookla, Fran, and Ollie on the television until our father came home for supper promptly at 5:20. After supper we did our homework and we actually enjoyed doing it. It was the good life. I thought it would never end...but it did.

The school was and still is called "Our Lady of Grace School". It is in the Chicago neighborhood named Logan Square. I graduated from the eighth grade in 1960 which was the fiftieth anniversary of the school. This year they will celebrate the 100th anniversary. It is very comforting to know that it is still there. We used to call it "OLG" for short and the kids probably still do. We used to joke that the letters "OLG" stand for "Old Ladies Graveyard" or "Oranges, Lemons, and Grapefruit" and the kids probably still do. If I could, I would go back and start all over again but I can't and neither can you. How sad. I wonder what happened to all the rest of the kids in that picture. We were all born at the beginning of the "Baby Boom" and after grammar school we all went in different directions. It wasn't like "American Graffiti" or the TV program "Happy Days" where everyone went on to High School together. In the early 1960's the flight to the suburbs began in earnest and many kids got flung to the periphery. The rest of us were distributed among a couple dozen High Schools depending upon our parents' affluence and what type of curriculum we (meaning our parents) were looking for.

Perhaps it is better that I don't know what happened to all those happy children. I think it is probably better to remember them as they were then pray that their happiness continues. I am very thankful that I had a little time of "Peace on Earth" at OLG while I was growing up and that I still have the memories to cling to. I wish that I knew how we could bring back those days for everybody. Sadly I have come to the realization that it probably won't happen in my lifetime but maybe, just maybe, someday all children will have a chance to experience the peace and prosperity that we had then. I think that is a worthy goal. I just wish that enough people can see it that way including Democrats, Republicans, Blue Dogs, Independents, and Tea Partiers, and that we can all agree to go for it. We should probably start with Guatemala and Haiti and work our way up from there. May God have mercy on us if we don't. I hope to see all of you and all of my little first grade friends in Paradise but first we have something to finish down here on Earth. Let's get cracking!

Click on photo to enlarge.


GlorV1 said...

Wow Bob. What a treasure to have. I don't think I have any of those grade school pictures of me. We just could not afford to pay for pictures. Sounds like you have a lot of memories of your time at Our Lady of Grace School. For some reason I glanced at the picture and looked at that little boy at the top row, first one on the left and I knew it was you. I scrolled back up to see where you said you were at and I was right. Why you were a darling little boy and you turned into a darling man. I am sure Gina is so proud of you. Thanks for sharing.

Suzanne said...

What a cutie pie! I have similar photos of myself, and I feel the same way about those 1950's years. They were truly special and totally without worry or concern growing up. You must be having a lot of fun exploring those papers for memories.

Tancho said...

You're lucky, my phone had the stern Sister Mary Ambrose standing next to us. I wonder how many rulers she went through slapping the wrists of all the kids in the school. At those times we had two grades in one room. The school was in an old Victorian house on a hill in San Francisco, next door to the mansion where Veritgo with Jimmy Steward was filmed. Those were good days indeed. The something happened, very few home moms now, latchkey kids, a mess. You are right that we need a change starting with each person stopping and thinking why they are here and how they can help their neighbor, not themselves....Happy Easter to you Robert.

norm said...

43 first graders in one classroom, your poor teacher! I was a boomer myself and can recall 40 and 50 kids to a class. I also recall my teachers retiring early. I got a kick out of the boy/girl row set-up as well, it was a different time indeed.

Unknown said...


What the hell happened to you dog!, you were a very cute kid! lol... just kidding...

Great memories, fantastic wishes, me too. I wish time had stayed at a point in my life but, it keep ticking (¿Así se dice?) Are you still happy? You certainly seem to be so.



Little Mexico Bob said...

Also, there are no corporate logos on the children's clothing. Not like today.

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.