...And That's My Opinion©

By Sandy Goldman

The Rogers Park Community Curmudgeon

What It Was, Was Lake View High School

What it was, was Lake View High School and I was a member of the class of 1950.

1950!!!

That is, can you believe it, 56 years ago?

In 1946, we were required, because of overcrowding at the main school, to attend an annex at Horace Greeley School.  Some could elect to go to Senn High School and thus avoid the ridicule of attending an auxiliary facility.  But we were a sturdy lot and we wanted Lake View High School because what it was, was Lake View High School.  It was our neighborhood school with no admission fees, no entrance exams and no esoteric qualifications. 

We prepared our lessons, particularly Latin, under the tutelage of Ms. Sphinx, who said, “ If you want to succeed at the Big School pay attention here,” and we did, I think!  She would also often say,” Some of you are students and some of you are pupils.”  We overcame our freshman trepidation and became the class of 1950.

We came from various grammar schools:  Le Moyne, Nettlehorst, Hawthorne, Blaine and some I’m sure I have forgotten.

Horace Greeley was a good beginning.  We survived the task of finding lockers and navigating the hallways.  We were ready for the Big School and so we moved on to the big time and our Horace Greeley friendships moved along with us.

What it was, was Lake View High School.

There was football and baseball and basketball, as well as track and swimming. There were dramatics - and a school newspaper - and band and orchestra as well as a modern swing band - and choir – and cheerleading and drum majorettes and the brand new girl’s drill team. 

Latin Club, Spanish Club, Red Cross Council, National Honor Society, Girl’s Athletic Association, Unisex Rifle Team, ROTC Bowling League, Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y were some of the extracurricular activities available to us.

Most important of all, there was friendship.

We would meet at a place called Harvey’s on Irving Park, a block west of Ashland.   We were allowed to gather after school until the owner played “ Good Night Irene” on the jukebox.  That was our clue to go home while they prepared for the adult crowd.  It was a workable plan and it worked well.

What it was, was Lake View High School.

We didn’t win many football games but we had parties far exceeding the wild levels that our children think they were the first to discover!!  But we never told them or anyone else for that matter.

We formed friendships, both male and female, some of which continue unto today, some of which resulted in marriages and families.

There was a fierce rivalry with Senn High School, which manifested itself both on the football field and at the fistfights at the Uptown theatre.  This was particularly true when we each wore our football parkas…Senn Bulldogs and Lake View Wildcats. 

We didn’t mess with Lane Tech.  It was an all-boys school and they were tough.  Waller High School, however, was not welcome on our turf nor we on theirs.

What it was, was Lake View High School.

Three senior class teachers took it upon themselves to teach us how to dance in preparation for the senior prom.   Most of the boys proved to be better fighters than dancers.   But the prom went on without a hitch and most of the boys let the girls lead.

We started the first Prom-Date Bureau wherein shy boys and girls could make known their intentions in strict confidence and couple up for the desired prom date.

We had the Teens-'n'-Talent show, along with the crowning of Miss and Mr. Lake View – and the May Festival with the crowning of the May Queen  - and the Glee Club concert - and the ROTC Cadet Hop and the Turnabout Dance featuring the presentation of Mr. And Miss Courtesy and a dance contest.

There was an art department that taught drawing and painting, as well as metal work and sculpturing. There were advanced mathematics and dressmaking and cooking and first aid and childcare and general science and practical training for the business world. There was a fully equipped workshop, one of the few in the city. The shop courses taught mechanical drawing and architectural drawing and electrical knowledge. An innovative special course in radio and television, with instructors from the American School of Television, was added to the curriculum in 1949. There were also two rooms for those with hearing and sight difficulties. 

What it was, was Lake View High School.

We were particularly proud of a visit, on Feb 17th, 1950 by Mayor Kennelly, States’ Attorney Boyle and Police Commissioner Prendergast, who spoke to us about our futures.

We grew up to be doctors and dentists; lawyers and judges; businessmen and salesmen; con men and convicts; fireman and policemen; statesmen and politicians; working men and working women; mothers and fathers; writers and reporters; teachers and professors; clerics and clerks; architects and engineers; bartenders and bar owners; cab drivers and truck drivers.  We were all friends then, as we are today. 

Of 282 graduates in 1950, one third planned to enter college, the bulk choosing Northwestern and Illinois Universities (50) while the rest were evenly spread among midwestern colleges.

In 1950 the Korean War began.  Some went there.  Some never returned.

Lake View High School opened in 1874 making it the oldest high school in Illinois.   It has stood all that time on the corner of Irving Park and Ashland Avenue.  We have all been proud to say:

What it was, was Lake View High School.

In our memories that’s what it still is!!

 ...And that's my opinion.

And I'm Sandy Goldman

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