Saturday, May 14, 2011

1950 Darien High School

Miss Bergin Darien High School, Darien WI
Darien High School, Darien Wisconsin

I had an interview with Superintendent Mr. L. [Larry] F. Cox. He hired me immediately as his Home Economics and Physical Education Instructor for the 50-51 School Year. Larry was a real gentleman, easy going, cheery, always smiling, a person people wanted to get along with and who lit up a room. He’d been with Darien High School, Darien WI for nine years. September 15, 1950, was my first day.

You see here how I attempted to have a teacher's profile. I wasn't much older then the girls I was teaching. I used my pro-curler to set my hair and kept it tight to my head with a shorter appearing cut. 
Junior Class is my HomeRoom Charge

My classes were small like we had at Hebron High. The Grades were in the same building though off in a completely separate section. I was determined my girls would learn from the units we studied. I made up charts for both student and I to track progress by checking off step by step. When the semester was  completed, or her year's study, she would know from the many how-to’s involved she had a real hold on the material. This would be a continuum from threading a sewing machine to retaining maximum vitamins and minerals in their meal preparation. My system seemed to work well. This tact grew from my previous year's experience. I let them make mistakes as well. One instance when a pupil haughtily insisted this is how her mother made white mountain frosting and therefore how it is to be made- with an under her breath, ‘Miss Bergin doesn’t know what she is talking about’. We did it 2 ways. Her plan failed so she learned from error. 

We had a GAA Club. On Friday nights when the teams played home games we would prepare Sloppy Joes, ground beef and sauce on a hamburger bun, in the Home Ec kitchen to take out to the booth on the field and sell to spectators. This was a brand new item, I believe, on American menus. I had never had a Sloppy Joe before this. Surely, we would have had one at MMC. They were a hit. As in Hebron High the entire town turns out for these home games and their sandwich. 
Our Cheerleaders

GAA and gym classes went well due to the fact I had actively participated in college sports and my activity was now paying off. I knew most the rules so could coach well. This tiny school, surprisingly,  had all the equipment for track and field and the instruction guides. The girls loved it. What fun it was! The page at right is a taken from the 1951 Darien High School Year Book. That's me 2nd row, 1st on left.

I did have an embarrassing trial when I attempted to put together a skit without proper rehearsal. Additionally, the night of the performance some of the key persons did not show. and failed to let me know. Reason. Spring farm work had begun in ernest and the dad’s just kept the boys home. These boys had no choice. I felt slighted for had this been sports the boys most likely would have shown up. Mother sat in the audience and witnessed my demise. She handled it well knowing how we learn at least as well from our mistakes. 
One day I took a group of interested girls with me in my Chevy on a trip to Milwaukee. This is why I am certain my Chevy had a rumble seat. We piled into the front seat, the back seat and the rumble seat. There were no number of passenger restrictions, no seat belt laws those days. In fact, retreating a bit I believe it was in 1949/50 I saw the first turn signals on the rear of cars. 
Boston Store

This was a grand trip, a distance of 58 miles.  I felt so comfortable taking them through the shopping area downtown Milwaukee. We visited points of interest to our studies, lunch together, and the ride home. The best of field trips ever there was. Teacher and girls had a blast.

We had probably monthly teacher’s meetings when I would stay late. This is how the teachers came to meet Bruce. One week the snow was so blustery and heavy and predicted to continue. Family and I decided best I stay in Darien all week long. I boarded in an upstairs bedroom from a lady in town. I ate my meals at the Colonial Inn which had a reputation for good, homemade, inexpensive entrees. Proved so. There wasn’t any activity in Darien for entertainment evenings. No TV. A good book would about cover it or working on Lesson Plans. 

Bill would be graduating from Marquette this school year. Jim returned to Alden-Hebron Community High School. With this setup Bill could maintain and pursue the Green Giants interest. "As for Bill, you know what a sports fanatic he was, so nothing deterred his pursuit of getting involved at whatever level he possibly could.  He personally knew players from Elgin H.S. (Karl Plath, Sam Sauceda), Jim Biggins from St. Ed's of Elgin, Jack Myers from Freeport, who years later was Angie's brother Paul's owner/boss at his Freeport, IL Ford dealership.  I might also say that he (Bill) had a natural connection with Blacks [I already told you this] which I too have always found easier than it seems for many of our fellow Caucasians.  Our David was likewise, and needless to say our Patrick who has all but given his career to Africa and its people with Pat knows Swahili as well as he knows English". We should hear much more about Green Giants next year, 1952, their truly amazing year.
Recently a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant  flying his jet 

Bruce now poses on his new truck in Stewart Farmyard

Bruce Stewart purchased a truck as he was hired by McHenry County Service Company to search out feed and seed farmer customers and follow up with delivery. We were obviously  by now entertaining the idea of marriage.
Though I am teaching in Darien I am living at home in the upstairs bedroom I share with my sister. All our lives my sister and I have mostly been like 2 peas in a pod. This is where we have most of our sister talks. Sometimes the conversation is intimate. Elayne is like Jo in Little Women. She is not at all keen on breaking up this family. The situation is such that breaking up could be immanent. Though I know how she feels she doesn't seem to hold my relationship with Bruce against me even though it might 'break things up'. So- what I want to know was entering the BVM novitiate in Dubuque a sudden decision? Never in all my years had my sister shared with me she might have a vocation. Far as I know all of a sudden mother and she were going to take this trip to Ireland before Elayne entered the convent.  The convent? That's this year. Is this a true calling or is this reactive to a family falling apart? I found this reference in my scrap book:  Dad, Bill and Jim gave us a place setting in my Bavarian china  pattern while mother and Elayne were vacationing in Ireland. Seems the decision was part of a plan. Why didn't I know about a vocation?

Elayne's journal reads: Stayed overnight in her apartment in Chicago 437 W. Roscoe St. Her roommate, Letty wasn't home.  They left Chicago at 3:05 arriving in NY  at 9 AM. They left on their trip September 4, 1950 on a steamship, Brittanic, 5th largest of that Cunard line, the trans-atlantic crossing taking them seven days New York to  Roche's Point, Cobb Harbor, Ireland. I refer you to Elayne's Journal entries for more information, WE LEAVE HOME...1950, commencing September 4. Elayne quotes mother's account of their arrival in Ireland:
" Mother's account of our landing: "Counting hours. See the lighthouse in the distance . . . gradually the green . . . more green plots . . . now dwellings . . .tender boat is arriving. All passengers to Cobb embark 40 minutes to Cobb. Spotted Noel and Leeny on the pier. They also saw us . . . this is really funny. I saw Auntie Gladys in Leeny's face. "       .

The Stewart Family had many long time friendships with merchants in Lake Geneva, WI, Woodstock and  Harvard, IL.  One day Bruce and I  visited Ray Wolf, Jeweler on the Square in Woodstock. Was delightful going off shopping with him. He bought me a beautiful 3 piece jewelry set, necklace, earrings and bracelet for my 23rd birthday. I haven't a clue what became of them. I do have the blue rosary he gave me from the jewelers. You have all seen that. 

Many of our weekend dates we spent with extended family, just dropping in for a visit, a meal by invitation. He certainly had a lot of relatives, double cousins, nieces and nephews, always a relative to visit.

Small black and white picture w/rabbit ears arial

Television sets had only black and white pictures with the ‘rabbit ears’ above for tuning. These were in each of his sister’s homes. Wrestling was a hot item partly because there wasn’t much else. Not very interesting. TV was such a novelty that once it was turned on these folks left it on through all the commercials and in spite of visitors and even though no one was watching .  Seemed to become a habit. I thought it interfered with conversation. 
Around Thanksgiving holiday Maurice, Elsie [Bruce sister]  Woodbury with their children, Roger, Marcia and baby Mark  drove across country to visit the Woodbury grandparents in  San Mateo, CA.
Barnyard and barn was behind the house

The family was living in the senior Woodbury home, a Craftsman construct, and farming the land. Bruce had consented to take care of the Woodbury farm in their absence which included the dairy cattle in the barn. The barn yard was in back, at the end of the driveway beside their home. He stayed there the entire time while they were away. I stopped by briefly each of these mornings as their home was right in town  on my route out to Darien. Bruce would be in the kitchen preparing his breakfast. Quick ‘good morning kiss’. The radio would be tuned to WGN for Uncle Normie classical music ‘Tunes from Talman’. I believe this morning show was on  for years and years. I would now add this beautiful morning scene to what I already enjoy about this guy’s tastes. 
The theme song for the program was The Sleeping Beauty Waltz from Romeo and Juliet.  Play a few bars beyond intro- you’ll have the idea. Certainly brings back memories for me.  Talmlan Savings and Loan is also where my dad kept our Tullybrackey Trust savings.I would drop by on my way home from Darien in the evening when my scheduling permitted.  I needed to get home to Tullybrackey early week nights for a decent night’s sleep.  Woodburys had a TV set. Might have time to enjoy the Arthur Godfrey show.
Preparing for Christmas 1950. Bruce had raved how much he loved the LPs he owned. LPs were new on the market. He was so proud of his 3 album 'Madame Butterfly'. I wanted to find an LP record for his gift. World was changing from 48 rpm recordings.
First Christmas gifts, LP's like his Madame Butterfly

There was a record shop in Delavan, the larger town neighboring Darien. I chose two records. There were listening booths within the shop, rather like a telephone booth. Here I could listen and decide if a recording satisfied me. I was looking for something classical. I chose 2 recordings which I could afford, a smaller album, 'Schubert's Melodies' and 'Haydn/Mozart'. Previously, I had knitted argyle socks for Bruce not as Christmas gifts. There had been a fad amongst us MMC women to knit men's socks, perhaps for brother, or father or friend or soldier. I knitted a total of 3 pair of argyle socks for him given at different points in our relationship.
We met with Fr. Miller in his nice, Colonial style rectory a number of times. He was giving Bruce religious instructions with the intention of converting to Catholicism which might soon involve marriage preparation. During this interval we found a series of Pre-Cana meetings at St. Mary’s in Burlington, WI. Bruce and I drove to Burlington a couple of nights so Father Miller thought we met preparation requirement. Of course, Pre-Cana was a series presenting to couples keeping steady company much that was involved in a marriage, in a permanent relationship. These meetings were about the best there was to inform, guide, consider whether marriage might be where  a couple was heading or perhaps not a good idea. They were good for the times. They were about all there was. Few couples took advantage of them. Sixty years later there is really not much more being done by way of information and instruction. What a waste! With these classes Fr. Miller was able to relinquish much of his responsibility. I see it is as embarrassing for priests as it is for parents to educate young about their sexuality. Will it change? I would hope so.  In my 2nd semester MMC Senior I had a class on marriage which was extremely shallow. However, Fr. Peters told us a how-to pamphlet  would be sent out to me on the occasion of announcing a pending wedding. This would voice the physical aspects of a sexual relationship. I received this as promised. The information as I recall was quite detailed for the times. This priest, or professor if you will, was so embarrassed throughout this all-female class, blushing heavily through the entirety. Thus, our relationship now was at least this serious. I do recall some conversations we had in which we wrestled with our futures and could have gone another way. Brought me to tears. There were certain items we had to work through together. There were no extended studies about finances or child psychology or how to raise a child or how to work through problems, including marital ones. Incompletely, I had touched on these as gist for my Home Ec preparation. I had a one semester course called Family Living. I recognized at that time how much the material in this textbook needed to reach students all over the world to improve society. Most women didn't get what I had and certainly Bruce had none at all. We had our families examples with both the good and the ill modeled. Should he and I follow through on our relationship we would be working with and through two family scripts. [I'm OK You're OK by Thos. Harris or/and Scripts People Live by Claude Steiner explain my reference.] These studies were unknown to our generation until the late 50s and 60s. We simply followed our family scripts, did what our parents did,  for the most part with a bit of enlightenment here and there, as all people have done through the many, many years and continue to do today. 

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