Class of 1938 graduate reminisces about Libertyville High School

Class of 1938 graduate reminisces about Libertyville High School

  • Ethel Jochheim-Getchell's senior yearbook entry. At 97, Jochheim-Getchell is believed to be Libertyville High School's oldest living graduate, and was the grand marshal for this year's homecoming parade.

    Ethel Jochheim-Getchell's senior yearbook entry. At 97, Jochheim-Getchell is believed to be Libertyville High School's oldest living graduate, and was the grand marshal for this year's homecoming parade. Courtesy of Libertyville High School

 
By Ethel Jochheim-Getchell
(Class of 1938) on behalf of Libertyville High School
Posted10/18/2017 1:27 PM

• The following is part of an ongoing series of articles in celebration of Libertyville High School's 100th anniversary.

Libertyville High School has a very special piece of my heart, but I will aim to be factual and not maudlin. When I began school in the fall of 1934, I already loved the red brick building -- especially the front door.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On the inside I adored the configuration of the auditorium and stage with lockers and classrooms all around. My mind's eye still sees boys sitting on the top rail of the "fence" with their heels tucked into the bottom rail, watching the girls.

Art Education classes were held on the stage; plays were rehearsed and performed there. Mr. Bergfald was everyone's friend and mentor. Along with directing and teaching, he came to school at 7 a.m. to teach us how to apply makeup for the stage -- and then how to remove it with one tissue.

Mr. Underbrink, our principal, was a beloved educator and businessman. I remember one incident; it was 1936, when my family was very poor and hand-me-downs were "de rigueur." One day my sophomore year I met Mr. U in the hall. He stopped and said how nice I looked, then commented: "I always admired that dress on Evie (my older sister)." My smile vanished, but I still loved him.

In 1936 the library opened, and it was wonderful; big study tables, maps, encyclopedias, stacks of books, and a real librarian: Miss Lois Johnson. It adjoined the study hall so we could move back and forth for information. Pure heaven! I also remember reading "Gone with the Wind" in that study hall.

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I cannot remember the specific year the new gym and tunnel were built, but seniors were given priority on "tunnel lockers" and what a privilege that was; locker position it seems was a critical point in life. We called it the "Senior Tunnel" which at this distance seems pretty juvenile. I cannot imagine today's high school seniors caring one way or another.

Another thing that made life so much fun was the 3:15 dances. They were originally sock-hops, I think. Sometimes we had recorded music, or others, someone on the piano. But we hardly noticed. We were together, having fun and dancing! When I later taught school and supervised dances, the kids were cheek-to-cheek and glued together. We were separated if cheeks even touched.

And I cannot forget the part the weekly "Independent Register" played in our lives. Our favorite column was "Heard and Seen" which was so important to all us girls. How we wanted to be noticed! Thursday was the big day. If our name was in the "Heard and Seen" we had made it again.

The Cook House stood between my home and school, and many evenings I was there using the resources for a class, picking up books for my mom, or just plain socializing. On Thursday nights in the summer, Percy Snow's band played on the Cook House steps. I went, usually with a dime tied in the corner of my handkerchief for a coke at Pop Taylor's drugstore at intermission.

It's funny, that over the years when I thought of home, two additional places always came to mind: the Brainerd Building and the Cook House. They were central to my education and my growth. They are memories that can never be replaced.

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