CLEVELAND HEIGHTS HIGH
Since I was a January graduate of Roxboro I entered Heights in January
of 1940. I was very fortunate to have some acquaintances that were active
in the high school fraternities so I was asked to be a member of The Friars
Club in the tenth grade. Heights had 2000 students and the number in fraternities
was quite small in comparison and those in the fraternities ran the social
activities of the school. The fraternities are gone now for good reason
as the great number of students did not get to be a member and it was
difficult on them during their high school days. But being a member was
great. We pledged the first semester and while we all went through it,
when I look back I wonder how.
At each meeting on Saturday night the pledges had to come with a shirt
and black tie which was worn backwards. While the meeting was on we had
to stay upstairs and shine shoes for all the members. After the meeting
the pledges were called down and each week we had different foolish assignments
which were never done to the satisfaction of the members. I remember one
task I had been to write an essay on “How Far is up’. Naturally
my effort was ridiculed and we then had to bend over and be swatted with
paddles that we were required to make.
The meeting times were tolerable but when “Hell Week” arrived
the pledging got tough. All week we had to report to our pledge supervisor
and he gave us tasks to do. For instance I had to measure how far it was
from Cedar Road to Cedar brook Rd using a wiener and being on roller skates.
Stupid but every one got a great laugh. On pledge night we had the usual
routine but them then cut off our ties filled them with as much foul tasting
herbs, mustards etc and made us chew them for a period of time. A number
of pledges got sick much to the delight of the members.
We were initiated at Mentor on the Lake where we had a cottage for one
week. We all had to make ten paddles which were subsequently broken on
our behinds during the initiation night. How any of us survived is a question
but we did and we did the same to the next group of pledges. After WWII
the hazing subsided since there had been a number of accidents and level
heads prevailed .Once we were Friars however we really had great times.
Every Friday and Saturday night one fraternity or sorority sponsored a
dance at such places as Grant wood Country Club, Kiwanis Lake, Wigand’s
Lake or other halls and being a member of the fraternity you always had
plenty of social life. Those not being members did not go to the dances
very often. There was no alcohol or drugs at the dances and while a few
beers were consumed by some people the dances were always very well behaved.
During the 1930s my Dad, l who was an avid golfer had the opportunity
to join the Canterbury Country Club which at that time was looking for
members and offered an excellent deal. While I never took to the game
of golf I was excited about the opportunity to use the Canterbury Pool.
It was there I was introduced to Mr. Pederson who was the swimming and
diving instructor at the pool. I had enjoyed swimming and diving all my
life but he took me under his wing and began serious diving lessons.
When I got to Heights High I tried out for the swimming team as a diver.
There were two upper-class divers, Bob Weir, who was later killed in WWII
as a pilot in the Philippines, and Seymour Rosen so in the tenth grade
I didn’t participate in many meets. However in the 11th grade See
Rosen and I were the divers and in the twelfth grade I was the only diver
although some 10th graders were coming along. When I see the diving today
I realize my efforts were very amateurish but I did well against the opposition
for the day. Roy Uber was the coach and the rumor was that he couldn’t
swim but we all liked him and while my diving lessons were learned each
summer from Coach Pederson I enjoyed swimming under Roy.
Some of my best friends were on the Heights squad. Jack Sharer was the
backstroker and Craig Smith was a freestyler. Both were Friars and I have
seen Craig regularly in the Cleveland area and Jack and his wife Polly
visited us this year (2001) and we had a wonderful time reliving our highs
school days. Actually I had seen Jack and Polly along with Hugh and Ginny
Nichol and Larry Russell and Eleanor at our 50th reunion in 1994 (Both
1943 & 1944) celebrated the 5oth together). Unfortunately Tom Rogers
who was the fifth member of our Friar Group in high school had died in
1985 at the age of 60. Swimming was a very important part of my High School
and I earned letters both my junior and senior year. I have told this
story before but it is interesting.
My senior year I was elected president of the varsity H Club. I am sure
I was a compromise choice since the football and basketball players usually
got this honor. However I was chosen and I came home all excited, burst
into the dining room where Mom and Dad were eating and announced proudly
that I was elected. My Dad who was a great athlete thought there were
really no sports except football, basketball or track looked up and I’m
sure without thinking said” How come they selected a swimmer? I
was dumbfounded and my mother yelled “Fred!” and the
wind was taken out of my sails. Dad was really pleased however and we
all had a good laugh out of it later.
I think I can say that I was well liked by my fellow highschoolers and
had a very great amount of friends both male and female. I was certainly
not a ladies man and while I had dates I don’t think any girl was
particularly enamored with me. My sophomore year I had a crush on a girl
named Marge Ballantine, who later in life became mayor of Cleveland Heights,
but she had her eyes set on another and wouldn’t give me the time
of day. Interestingly enough by my senior year that guy had lost interest
in her and she seemed to take and interest in me but by that time I was
dating a girl named Maribelle Benjamin. She was a great dancer and lived
on Exeter RD. which was the next street to ours. Never a serious romance
but we went to most of the dances together and what little dancing I knew
she taught me.
There were two or three girls in the class who were considered the best
looking and most guys hoped to get a date with one of them sometime during
the year. In my scrapbook I have a picture of Marie Myers who was one
of these and I happened to have date with her for a Friar “Dance
the night she was elected queen. At our reunion another of the girls we
all talked about was Shirley Robertson and the night before the reunion
when Larry, Hugh, Jack and I went to dinner we talked about Shirley to
our wives because we knew she would be at the party. When she arrived
the wives all guffawed because, although she was still attractive, Shirley
had gone all out to pour herself into address that was too small and it
was obvious it was done for the purpose of impressing her old classmates.
The war started when we were sophomores at Heights and most of us being
16 were sure the war would pass us by.
At the time the attitude of the country was such that all of us wanted
to have a chance to be in the service and especially when word would come
back of some recent graduate of Heights who was killed in action. The
war didn’t interfere with our fun in high school although gas rationing
did curtail our activities as far as going any distance for dances etc.
I definitely feel that my three years at Heights High School were probably
my most enjoyable experience of school.
I left in June of 1943 and one week after graduation entered Amherst College.