Thank you, Jim. talk about Social Distancing. Let me share some reflections… Last night, putting my thoughts together, sitting in my recliner, watching TV, trying to change channels using a Hershey bar, I pondered; Sixty years after graduation, we can’t see, hear or smell. No reaction time, but by God, we all still have our driver’s license.
Let me share some reflections… fleeting moments from six decades past. It all started August 1955 when we leafed through the Clairton Progress to see who our 7th grade homeroom teacher would be. Mine: Chottiner.
Lunch: glass milk bottles (white or chocolate 5 cents each), sticky buns for a dime, or for a quarter, a healthy cafeteria- style lunch.
Those fortunate to have a TV at home watched 3, 5, 11, & 13, black and white with Rabbit Ears, a huge cabinet and tiny screen.
We gave our teachers nicknames: “Pappy, Shaky Pete, The tongue, and those were the most flattering. Our own All-American became All American at Notre Dame. Our class numbered 287 but could have been double. TJ and other schools siphoned off some of our best. Though CHS Class of 1960 included a dentist, physician, two authors, ministers, an attorney, Country/Western music singer, and many other notables. We’ve held reunions since 1970 onward, every year ending in zero or 5.
Over the years we’ve lost more than 80 classmates, starting with Mickey Hrvacic’s drowning in 1959. We were children of parents who lived through the Great Depression and WW-2. Many of our grandparents were bilingual. Church was a staple in our community. Our school’s indoor swimming pool spawned a plethora of championship teams. Many team members, including Jack Pierosh, Jim Shultz and Ron Kunz, spent summers as lifeguards saving lives and ogling girls at the community pool.
To commemorate our six-decade reunion, I’ve written an ode to my classmates. The first letter of each line spells “CLAIRTON HIGH SCHOOL, 1960” A copy resides on our web page. & my web site, imawordnerd.com
ODE TO CHS CLASS of 1960
Class of ’60, what a group
Lean and limber was our troop
Annual trek to Kennywood
Iconic times both fun and good
Run for the cafeteria
To Sticky bun hysteria
Our Swimming Class in sharp disorder
“No clothes at all, boys” said Mr. Porter
Home Ec in contrast, girls did show
Items that they had to sew
Geometry angles hypotenuse
Honeybear twirlers on the loose
Scene of big house being moved
City’s mortuary soon improved
Halcyon days end yearlong teen
Our hopes and lives would soon convene
Of those still standing these years hence
Life’s been, dare I say? Immense
Nineteen Covid, coincidence?
Sixty years of recompence
By Andrew R. Nixon, author, poet, and occasional curmudgeon.
Cameo: Summing up 50 years in 90 or so seconds: “I left Clairton for good in 1960, but Clairton never left me.”
I ventured between Utah, Idaho, California, and Hawaii before settling in Las Vegas in 68. My main job was a university professor and administratr, but I’ve had many side jobs including taxi and limo driver, travel agent, newspaper columnist, comedy writer, blogger, radio show host, business owner, and a handful of other efforts to keep body and soul together. In the process I had two children, four grandchildren, and come this November, the expected twins will be my ninth and tenth great grands.
It took me 59 years to accomplish what my more talented classmates did in 1960. Last year I was invited to be the keynote commencement speaker at our alma mater’s 2019 graduation ceremony.
Once retired, I wrote a memoir titled, “50 Shades of Grades.” Sales exceeded my wildest expectations, so I wrote a novel. “Three Lives of Peter Novak,” set partly in Clairton, then a sequel, “Katie’s Ladies,” celebrating 100 years since women’s suffrage. All three books are available through any Allegheny County Library. Or Amazon.com.
Still an avid follower of our school’s activities, including Bears football.
But my proudest Clairton moment came during a book tour that took me to the greater Pittsburgh area. Clairton mayor Richard Lattanzi presented me with a proclamation honoring me, and concluding with the words, “…remembering that the City of Clairton is always home to our native son.”