Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"Courtesy At School" Our Wonder Years

My friend Leni Jane and her husband Michael were in California a couple of weeks ago. Leni Jane, whom I have known since Freshman year at Maine East High School in Park Ridge, IL, is a wonderful friend. She has enriched my life so much over the years. I doubt she realizes how much. Anyway, I digress as usual. When she came back from California, she emailed all of us her pictures from California. We have been out of high school for some time now.

There were 2 faces I immediately recognized and the rest were all a group of strangers. Funny how we change over the years. Of course, WE don't think we've changed, just everyone else has! I emailed her and said, "who are those people"? Leni Jane replied with everyones name. The memories just came flooding back. If we don't think about someone for a long time, it's as if they had no impact on our lives.

When we see them again, it's as if we had been in contact forever and amazingly, a new friendship starts. It is extraordinary! When many of us were in 6th grade at Ballard School (no longer there), we made a movie for Coronet Films which was a division of Encyclopedia Brittanica. The movie was an educational film called "Courtesy At School". The star of the film was, of course, the cutest boy in 6th grade...Tommy Hawkins. Now he is just Tom and looks exactly the same as he did when we were kids. Tom had a copy of the movie and showed it to Leni Jane and Michael.

Leni Jane, ever the organizer, wanted to know who we all were in the movie. You see, those of us who went to Maine East came from many different grammar schools. Leni Jane went to Lincoln, I think. But those of us at Ballard in 6th grade are in that movie.

I had a 35 mm copy for years which I recently sent to my friend Renee. Just before she got the copy I sent her, she had found our movie posted on the web at http://www.avgeeks.com/pivot/entry.php?id=165. Now, our Leni Jane who organizes all our reunions and is in touch with everyone who is still around from our enormous class of over 700 kids, wants to know who all was in this movie. The movie, is, as they say, a hoot!

Because of this moment in time, I have found a long lost friend, although, I'm not certain we were friends in the true sense of the word. We certainly were classmates from 6th to 12th grade. Now, I feel this strong sense of friendship...perhaps, it is just nostalgia. Whatever it is, it's nice.

Leni Jane has been emailing all of us to try to remember everyone who was in our movie. We have come up with many names, but not everyone. I suggested Leni Jane get in touch with Renee (you all know her from previous blogs). She has a mind like a steel trap and will remember almost everyone in the movie. I emailed her and, of course, she remembers so many of the kids, now grandparents in many cases, who were in our movie.

But the nicest thing that has happened to me, is the contact with Dwight. The reconnection is so nice. We have similar memories of those times, amazingly we are quite similar today. He has been married 3 times, unfortunately, he lost his 2nd wife at an age when they should have been planning a very long future. However, he is happily married again and has been for 17 years. He has grandchildren and sounds extremely happy. (What more could we want for the people who we knew when.)

We have been corresponding almost daily, sometimes just a quick note, sometimes more. I warned him, he would appear here. I don't think he minded. I am happy that he is happy. Now, if only I could find the rest of them...those people who appeared for a brief time in my life...from 6th to 12th grade.

What I wouldn't give to know where they all are. Are they happy? Did their lives turn out as they hoped? What a movie we could make now. Maybe we should..."Courtesy at School, The Sequel"!

If you are interested you should go to the site and watch this short, but actually, funny movie our 6th grade class at Ballard School in Des Plaines, Illinois made for Coronet Films.

Dwight, I'm so happy that you are happy...but watch out, The Dread Pirate Roberts may be lurking just behind the next corner.

With love on Christmas Day 2007,


Anonymous said...

I was prominent in two scenes in the movie. I was the boy who caught the ball and ran into the infield and took the bat. Also, I was the boy speaking in front of the class when Tommy Hawkins interrupted me. Who am I?

Neelie said...

I'm not certain...please enlighten me!

Anonymous said...

This is the first I've seen of the movie since it was screened for us in Mrs. Unfer's class, yet I remember the production of it like it was yesterday. I'll bet we spent four hours over two days just for the bus scene!
I did graduate with you in 1958 and spent two years at Maine before I transferred. By the way, I thought all you girls thought Bob Rauschenberg was the cutest boy! Whao am I? Hint: I'm NOT Rauschenberg.