Peabody High School - Pittsburgh - Class 1963 Photos
9th Grade (Peabody High)
First day at Peabody High School was one of those days you always remember, especially when there are three years of classes with students bigger than you and hundreds of strangers are milling about the halls of a strange school. We received are home room assignments over the summer and I had to locate Room 119. The school's floor plan was basically a figure eight in a three story school with a basement. Asking for directions was a joke because older kids treated you as a joke and gave you some stupid answer or deliberately tried to steer you wrong. I finally found the room and it was basically filled with strangers from other schools. The teacher was an old lady named Miss Coyne, a sophomore English teacher.
I think there were eleven freshman home rooms, which meant that on average you should have about six students from your old school. As luck would have it, none of my friends, or those who I took classes with in the smart class at Morningside, were in my class. I did know Robert Anservitz, so he became my locker partner. And there was a girl, Lynn Kurtz. I think there were two others from the dumber class, Stuart Bleckman and someone else.
At lunch period, one of three possible during the fourth period (I think I got the middle 25 minute lunch break, which meant your class time was split for that period), I found out about some of my missing classmates. Others would show up in some of my other classes. The ones that I knew, who were at a lunch table in a large cafeteria seating about six hundred students, sat with some older kids. Apparently they had all joined various AZA's (Jewish High School fraternities) over the summer. It was new to me as no one had contacted me over the summer and my lab partner who was out of it socially hadn't been rushed either.
I had six classes including gym and a fifth period study class. Algebra II was taught my Mr. Levy, an excellent teacher who quickly straightened out my mathematics skills. I was also taking English and Social Studies (not with the advanced students from Morningside – they were in an accelerated class), mechanical drawing, and German.
Gym class was a terror especially since you shared the gym with older kids who teased you in the locker room where you were required to shower. Usually it was a period of calisthenics with ten minutes for a quick game of basketball or volleyball. Sometimes when it was warm we would run a few laps on the outside field and sometimes get to play softball or touch football. I even learned the rules to the game (football), which for years had remained a mystery. After the shower we would parade through the swimming pool to dry off.
We had swimming one day a week. We swam naked for hygienic reasons. The pool always had a layer of scum. The first person rarely wanted to dive in first to break it. We had to take a swimming test and the few times I was in the pool we only swam laps until we were exhausted. Since you didn't wear a jock strap you could get hurt during the dive. I hated the pool and soon got a doctor's excuse. However, you still had to take a shower, line up naked on your number for roll call, and then you were excused to the locker room.
We always had to take gym tests. One was the 600 yard run-walk held outside on the track or along the perimeter of the football field. Several boys said that they would set the pace, but they ran too slow. I almost immediately passed them and set my own pace. My winning time, fastest in the gym class, was only several seconds shy of the school track record. The coach wanted me to go out for track but I declined. I wasn't interested in running every day until I dropped or even helping the school.
I always found the hallways scary, since older kids at any time might stop you and hassle you. I was a thin tall kid that was easily picked on and with no friends to defend me. I clearly remember one day walking down the hall, minding my own business, when a strange kid walked up to me and punched me in the stomach. I was doubled up on the floor with the breath knocked out of me. Occasionally I would be picked on in homeroom and I usually fought back unsuccessfully.
The school had lots of clubs that we were told anyone could join. Since I was interested in photography and had my own box camera, I thought I might learn something if I joined. Another boy in my homeroom, Arnold Kornstein, also planned to join. The club which met once a week during study hall after school, was in the print shop. As usual there were a few kids more than the club could accommodate, so the older kids voted. I didn't get in but my classmate did.
My social studies teacher (second term), Mrs. Schwartz was a dynamic teacher that could simulate you. I was always in competition with a girl named Andrea Feuradant. The two of us stood apart grade wise from the rest of the mediocre students. Both of us would get A's on our tests, but I would invariably flub a quiz occasionally and only got a B for the term. Both of us were promoted to the honors class in History for the sophomore year. (She also joined honors English while I didn't.)
Williamsburg, Virginia - Governor's Mansion - Classmates taking pictures
Williamsburgh-Milita firing muskets
Jeffrey Stanton in Stocks
Miss Schwartz in stocks.
Morris Heller in stocks
Peabody students resting at Williamsburg
Mrs. Schwartz who also taught honors Social Studies planned a school trip to visit Williamsburg, Virginia at the end of the term. It was a three day trip by bus with about thirty students and cost about $35. We stopped at Luray Caverns on the way there. Accommodations were at two houses at Williamsburg. The boys had one house and the girls the other. However, there were more boys than girls. Four boys, I was one of them, were picked to stay at the girls house. We were obviously picked on the basis of the ones least likely to fool around. I was exhausted and fell asleep early. Apparently we had an adjoining bedroom with some girls and they opened the connecting door between. One girl hopped into bed with me and the photo flash woke me. Of course I took some pictures of Andrea Feudarant and Susan Brown in their pajamas before they left. Word of the event spread quickly throughout the bus. Our fearless teacher confiscated my film. I tried to assure her nothing happened and the girls were only in their pajamas.
Williamsburg Trip - Girls House with adjoining room to boys - Andrea Feaurdant, Sue Brown & Marc Freidman
Paula, Paul Levin, Andrea Feaurdant, Sue Brown, Tom Dunlevy, & _______
Williamsburg tavern - outdoor dining for our class group.
Being in the reconstructed town was like a trip back in time to the American Revolution. Everyone in the buildings and shops dressed and acted like people 200 years before. Men fired old cannons on the Common. I remember eating at an old Tavern in the evening. Because we were a school group we ate on the outdoor patio. There was so much to see that it required a second day. On the way home we also stopped at Jamestown, Mt Vernon (George Washington’s home) and Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s home).I took lots of pictures and yes I got my film back on the bus trip back. We arrived back in Pittsburgh about midnight.
Ships at Jamestown, Virginia - first English settlement
Mt Vernon - George Washington's home
Monticello - Thomas Jefferson's home
Sophomore year at high school less harrowing. My younger friends from Morningside Junior High entered as freshman. These included Billy Fairman, David Brinn, David Kline, and Robert Stein. Surprisingly they all joined the same AZA and stuck together as a group. While I didn't have any of the same classes, I ate lunch with several of them and sometimes hitchhiked with them after school. I was never good at hitchhiking by myself. Most of the kids stood at the corner of Stanton Ave & Negley. People, generally those who lived in Stanton Heights, would give kids a ride up the hill. Most kids would get rides within 10-15 minutes, even when it was crowded. I was never very successful hitching a ride when I was alone. I was always the last to get a ride. Sometimes I would wait for over a half hour, then start walking home. When I was with the gang, we would put Billy out front because he was the cutest boy. Generally someone would stop and pick us up within 5 minutes. A boy named Norman, who lived several houses from Billy and who like me wasn't quite in the group, was my main competition for their friendship. Norman despised me and when his mom picked him up from school several times a week in their new Cadillac, all the kids but me got a ride home. He was a rich kid who was perfectly capable of buying their friendship.
Since I wanted to be on the same social level with the group, I decided to join their AZA. No one seemed to be opposed to the idea so I went to their meetings and placed my application. It was easier than joining a real fraternity and I suppose that some of the older boys could blackball you if they didn't want you in the group. Norman, luckily belonged to another AZA. At first things were going fine and I would have been admitted in February, just three or four months away. But then the national group changed their policy and decided that their wouldn't be any more mid-year admissions, so I would have to wait until my Junior year.
My classes in high school were harder now that I was promoted with Andrea to AP history, Miss Schwartz's class. She was a tough teacher and we learned a lot about World History that year. I was the only one in the class who wasn't also in AP English. My other classes included a second year of Mechanical Drawing and German, a second term of Geometry followed by Advanced Algebra and Gym class. English class was with Miss Coyne, my home room teacher. She was terrible. I remember reading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. I wasn’t allowed to take a science class was, since unless you were a genius with straight A's, you couldn't take five solids. Thus no biology class.
The only thing good about Mechanical Drawing was that we spent the second term doing architectural drawing and we were required to design a simple single story house. Granted most of the term was spent learning to draw architectural details but it was a change from the grueling drawings of mechanical parts. Sometimes the drawings had to be inked. The pens had a small gap between the two end, and when dipped in the ink well full of ink. Of course the pens were made for right handed people and my teacher was surprised that I was able to use them without making a mess. I would rather have switched to Art class, but my advisers always said that Mechanical Drawing class was better preparation for a career in Science or Engineering.
By December I was in a major mess with my friends. First I decided to dump the neighborhood kids who were always disloyal to me When their friends from outside the neighborhood arrived, they joined in with them to beat me up. Then most of my other friends decided to dump me. David Kline was the ring leader. Billy Fairman, who was David's best friend, under peer pressure, wouldn't even talk to me. At first David Brinn and Robert Stein decided to ignore the edict, but they weren't able to reassure me that everything would turn out fine. I began falling apart, acting weirder and weirder, and wasn't able to take advantage of their kindness. Eventually I withdrew into my own little world. I don't think my grades suffered. I was just alone all the time since I didn't have friends in my homeroom or other classes.
I was still getting beat up in school, although not as frequently. One kid in my homeroom attacked me from behind while I had my hands in my pockets. I tore both pockets and split the seams of my pants just trying to get my hands free. It wasn't that embarrassing, but I was sent to the home economics teacher to have my pants sewed so that I could attend the rest of my classes.
My second year of Algebra, beginning in the second term was taught by Mr. Levy. He was my favorite teacher. He made mathematics interesting. Once he illustrated probability by setting up gambling roulette wheels and recording the results. He demonstrated that if there were at least 21 students in a class that there was at least a 50-50 chance that any two would have the same birthday. Since there were 28 students in the class, the chances were virtually assured. Sure enough he got a full house. Believe it or not, three of us were born on February 18th, and two on another date.
Coin collecting became a passion and was profitable since scarcer coins, some found in change, were worth a considerable amount of money. I traded coins with numerous kids in high school and I even helped start a coin club. In fact I was the club's vice president during the first year. But as the club grew holding office became a popularity contest and I either never ran again or lost (I don't remember).
Finally I was able to take a science course. Chemistry class on the third floor, taught by Mr Board, adjoined a laboratory where we often experimented. These weren't random experiments, but ones that were designed to illustrate a reaction that was calculated. The chemicals were precisely measured out, and we didn't have access to those in the locked cabinets. Those cabinets were enticing, as they were lined with hundreds of chemical jars that could be used in thousands of experiments. I read numerous chemical cookbooks in the library, so I was aware of both the dangers and thrills of mixing chemicals. For example a mixture of powered aluminum and iodine would explode. And if you put iodine crystals in 18 molar Ammonium Hydroxide (100% ammonia) you made nitrogen tri-iodine, crystals when dry became shock sensitive. Its boiling point was listed as explosive. A fly touching a crystal would detonate it.
The chemistry lab had work stations equipped with a sink with water from a U-shaped faucet. At its base was a vacuum connection (when the water ran it created a slight vacuum which was useful for filtration.) A gas outlet, for fuel to the Bunsen burners, was near it. I discovered that if you connected the gas line to the vacuum input via a rubber hose, that you could light the stream of water afire. Several substitute teachers nearly had heart failure when I did it.
Gym class usually was boring with calisthenics and practice for gym tests. We were rewarded sometimes with a five to ten minute end of period volleyball game. In one test, I performed a 9 foot 1 inch standing broad jump with no practice. The coach again wanted me to go out for track. I told him I wasn't interested.
Senior year is supposed to be the year you're big man on campus, the year that you apply to college. I can't say that I felt that I was a big man on campus. Certainly I wasn't having any easier time in school even in my final year. In fact I was still getting beat up occasionally, even in home room. One tough Italian kid, who had been a drop out, returned to school to finish his senior year. He was the leader of the tough kids that one didn't associate with and I was unlucky that he was assigned to sit near me since we were seated alphabetically. I remember one day when I had my hands folded with my fingers in interlocking position. He grabbed my hands and squeezed my fingers. It was excruciatingly painful and it almost broke some bones in my fingers. At least he was fair about it and after my hands healed several days later, allowed me to do the same thing to him. I squeezed as hard as I could, but couldn't break even one of his bones. That guy was one of the organizers of the high school race riot. The school was about 1/6th black and they were enemies of the Italian kids who lived near them. The riot was supposed to be after school and it wasn't much of a secret. The principal called an Assembly at 1 PM for the Junior and Senior classes. We were told that the school would be entirely surrounded by police and their dogs and that we should go home directly. Well that stopped that riot. In fact I don't recall any riots on campus just one at an away football game at George Washington High, an predominately black high school. That was during my Sophomore year.
That fall I had two science classes; Physics and AP Chemistry along with classes in Trigonometry, Mechanical Drawing and English. Physics was taught by a new but older teacher. In all honesty, he was not an inspiring teacher; just mediocre.
I remember playing with a low frequency (60 hz), 50,000 volt generator. The spark was so great that when I held it in one hand and touched my other hand to an unplugged clear light bulb, the spark went through the glass and leapt to the filament. I would touch students and give them a jolt. I was having a great time until I touched a pipe in the room. The current which doesn't just stay on your skin surface as when you grab a high-frequency Tesla Coil, went right through me. I was hit so hard that my nervous system was shaken up the entire day.
AP Chemistry was more fun. The course used the Cornell College textbook. Lab time was scheduled often while Mr Board was teaching beginning chemistry to the juniors. I remember once doing an experiment that used naphthalene. Afterwards I couldn't get the test tube clean so I lit the remainder on fire. The foot high flame intrigued several students, but the teacher didn't become aware of what I was doing until the carbon in the air started to precipitate out and began to fall all over his class room. He looked back at what I was doing and I just shrugged.
I was on the Chem Squad. It was a volunteer club whose assignment was to prepare chemicals for the regular chemistry students. Obviously I had access to all the chemicals and was stealing chemicals in bank envelops for my home laboratory and rocket base. Mr Board was drew my attention to a case of bottles full of Potassium Chlorate atop the cabinet. He said that he didn't think that the school would miss a bottle. I used a lot of that chemical as the oxidizer for my rocket fuel.
One day my assignment was to produce Chlorine water for the chemistry class experiments. I knew how dangerous chlorine gas was and how to desensitize the gas after I made my chlorine water. You ran the gas through a sodium thiosulfate solution. I started the reaction by pouring in the acid, but immediately noticed that I made a mistake in the setup. I put in a short funnel instead of one that was beneath the liquid in the gas generator. The fumes began to escape despite trying to cap the generator. I began to feel sick and before we stopped it my teacher went home sick. I nearly caused the school to be evacuated.
That wasn't the only accident that we had in the lab. Fortunately I didn't cause the explosion of a sulfuric acid plant that Don Mattes built, that went haywire. In fact I only heard about it since it wasn't my experiment.
I had to take my College Boards early in the term. It was the second attempt and my Math score was slightly lower and English score slightly higher. (High scores 681 in math; 543 in English = 1224). The afternoon board scores were about 620 in Chemistry and 620 in Advanced Math. I can't remember if I took the Physics exam. While they weren't great scores they would be good enough to be admitted into a decent college.
I wanted to be a Physics major so I applied to four schools; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (my first choice), Case Tech, Carnegie Tech and the University of Rochester as my safety. I wanted to apply to Stanford but my parents said that it was too far away. I wasn't very interested in attending Carnegie Tech because it was too close to home. I would have been allowed to stay at the dorm, but I wanted to get far away from my family. I eventually visited three of the campuses. Case Tech was in Cleveland but it was a small campus with an old building used for the Physics department. Rensselaer had a big campus, looked like a classic ivy league school, but was in a slum town on the Hudson River. I figured my chances were 50-50 to get into one of these schools because while my SATs were OK, my grade point average was only a B-. Fortunately my High School was considered very good and my math and science grades were A's and B's.
Physics Class - Senior Year
Students began receiving college acceptance letters in early spring. I got a letter of acceptance from Case Tech first. At least I knew I was going to college. Then I believe I got a rejection from Rochester University next, an acceptance from Rensselaer and finally was accepted by Carnegie Tech. I was exceptionally happy when I was accepted by Rensselaer because it was a prestigious school and my first choice. Other bright classmates were accepted to schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT and good liberal arts colleges. Lesser students went to schools like, the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and Ohio State, the not so smart got accepted to state colleges, and the truly dumb went to two year community colleges.
After much thought and indecision I finally decided on Rensselaer over Case. I felt that since it was my first choice I would always regret not going there. Since I was the only one going to Rensselaer, I didn't need to worry about someone telling college classmates how unpopular and weird that I had been in high school. I would have a fresh start.
Senior Year - Room 119 - My Homeroom
The senior class always put on a play or musical in the Auditorium and sold tickets for two or three performances to pay for the expenses of producing it.. Only one senior class (ours had about 300 stucdents) in four has enough musical and dance talent to put on a musical. Since ours did, they choose a Lerner and Lowe musical set in Scotland. Brigadon was about two American tourists that discover a quaint village that unbeknwnst to them reappears once every 100 years for one day only. The tourists are enchanted with the village and two girls, who they fall in love. They must decide whether to leave all their friends and family behind. It was a lovely musical. While I don't remember everyone, Beverly Medgaus and Marc Simon were two of the leads. (Hopefully those in the performance can supply more detail.
Senior party on Stanton Terrace in Stanton Heights
Sue Brown and Jeffrey Stanton
June graduation came quickly. I wouldn't miss the school since I had virtually no friends. It wasn't that I didn't talk to others, I sat next to Don Mattes in Mechanical Drawing class and was on the Chem Squad with him and even liked him somewhat. But I can't say I did anything socially with any student outside of class - not even to go to a movie. No I didn’t go to the prom. I did ask a junior girl that I knew from our summer swim club, but she turned me down. We had a final picnic at some park (possibly South Park) a couple of days before graduation. I must have gotten a ride with some classmates since I had yet learned to drive. I remember it more from the few photos I took than actually being there. Graduation was several days later, I believe in the afternoon. Then High school was over.
Assembling in front of high school to go to senior picnic
Alfred Damus (Class Presient), Morris Heller, Chris Katsafanas (Vice President)
Picking up graduation cap and gown
Jeffrey Stanton - High School Graduate