Sunday, December 30, 2007

Memory Joggers from the Yearbook

There was a copy of the 1958 Viking Log at our recent St. Pete gathering, so that prompted me to find my own copy at home.

Here are some faculty names--what do you remember about them?

Beth Cheesmond (English and World History); Dorothy Adams (World History--I had her for Civics); George Clinebell (guidance counselor); Ruth Trigg (registrar); Ruth Barrett (dean of girls); Berneece Overholtz ( Shorthand and Transcription); Mildred Hoffman (Home Economics); Everett Myers (drivers education); William McNeil (Shop I, II, III, IV), Robert Root (Algebra II, III, Trigonometry).

Here are some famous names from the "Superlatives" Section:
Rena Counts, Most Versatile
Jan Duggar and Ann Leedy, Most Friendly
John Krege and Joan Moody, Personality Plus
Martha Heath and Larry Fannin, Most Courteous
Trudy Andringa, Most Likely to Succeed
Mickey Moustakas and Carol Curran, Cutest

Until I saw the Viking Log at our get-together, I had forgotten that we left a "Last Will and Testament" in the yearbook.

Here are some of the "bequests":
Arlene Murfin left her ability to volunteer for Civinette committees to Barbara Hall.
Barbara Monrose left her car to Bonnie Hughes on the condition that she patch the hole in the floorboard.
Dave Larson left his ability to clip to all future football players. (Editor: I have a hunch that "clip" had nothing to do with haircuts.)
Helen Leigh left her failing transcription notes to any junior.
Larry Thompson willed his ability to instigate riots to any junior.
Roger Whitehead left his ability to out-dribble anyone to Kirk Clinton.
Rosie Ramsey willed a one-way ticket to Spain to Mrs. Shrum.
Len Scipioni willed a worn-out red tank suit to Frank Walther.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fountain of Youth Water and Other Table Topics

A group of us 1958 Viking grads were gathered around a long table (made up of 3 or 4 tables pushed together) at Kristina's Restaurant on 34th St. in north St. Pete. Charles Welch piped up: "Any of you ever tried that Fountain of Youth water?" We exploded in laughter because I imagine most of us remembered "rotten egg water" (sulphur water) as what the "fountain" near Al Lang Field produced. If you tasted it once, you didn't come back for seconds.

Shirley Zumwalt remembered the Solarium, down near Spa Pool and Beach. It was a place where people went for private sunbaths and for vigorous massages given by two Swedish massage specialists. Shirley and her sister rented lockers at the Solarium to store their clothes while they went to Spa Beach. When they asked the Swedish masseurs for the price of a massage, the girls learned they couldn't afford it. But they were offered "alcohol rubs" for only 50 cents. They accepted the deal. What they got was such a muscular workover by the Swedish women that the girls never asked again for a massage.

Tom Fincher remembers that before the Desert Inn and the Colonial hotels were built on the Gulf Beaches, there was at that location something called the "Surf Club" with a Tiki Bar. Tom says that the two statues of horses that used to be in front of the Desert Inn are now located at a plant nursery on 49th St. N. in St. Petersburg.

Duane Tobey has an Al Lang Field story--about the day that a Major League player (it was a winter game), batted a ball so hard that it flew out of the park, across the street and was caught by someone on a third-floor balcony of an apartment house. By the way, Duane says that the name of the Earl Bostic song that Rosa Lee Ramsey was trying to remember was "Harlem Nocturne". Does that ring any bells, Rosie?

Ron Hagan was trying to remember the name of a ghoulish, monster character on live WSUN-TV who carried off Susan Swift, just prior to the start of a horror movie on the city's first TV station.

Melody Siplon's first job was in the Handbag Department on the 2nd floor of Webb's City Department Store. Ron Hagan was downstairs, working his first job as a bag boy in the grocery department. (Well, actually, that was his second job. His first job was for 3 days at 28th St. Drive-in, working the concession stand. He was underaged, and when management discovered this, he was let go.)

Girls Night Out?

Sue Bagg-Foreman has brought up the idea of a "Girls Night Out" on May 14, (the night before our big bash at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg). It would probably be at someone's home in the St. Pete area. Open to the "girls" who were in our class, the female spouses of the "boys" who were in our classes, and probably expanded to "girls" from other NHS graduating classes. It would be a great opportunity for catching up on our "chick" talk.

If this idea sounds like something you're interested in, drop a note to Sue at She'll be back from Costa Rica Jan. 3.

Monday, December 24, 2007

He Taught Us a Lot

George Siemers won't be with us at the May 2008 reunion. He died in November 2007. But his achievements in life are here in the St. Pete Times article, forwarded by Sue Bagg-Foreman, who received it originally from Clarissa Hamilton.

As we look toward a new year with the challenges it will bring, think about and appreciate the challenges George faced daily and say thank you for what his life taught us.

His talents outshone his every limitation
Born with physical limits, he lifted his voice and sang, excelled at puzzles and made friends.
By STEPHANIE HAYES, Times Staff WriterPublished December 2, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - He had trouble with words. Friends listened carefully to understand.
But when he opened his mouth to sing Battle Hymn of the Republic or Old Man River, the words popped perfectly crisp in smooth baritone.
George Arthur Siemers Jr. had pockets of brilliance.
* * *
He was 3 pounds when he was born, premature. At six weeks, he developed pneumonia and a 108-degree fever. And in 1939, antibiotics weren't an option.
By all expectations, he should have died. But he pulled through to the other side, where cerebral palsy, brain damage, spasticity and a speech impediment waited.
A doctor told his parents to abandon him in an institution. His parents told the doctor to get out of the house.
When music played, his tiny hands and feet went wild. His father, Arthur Sr., said that if he had a baton, his son could have led a band. Mr. Siemers learned to play chess and piano, and Arthur Sr. offered his son $25 to learn Rhapsody in Blue, his favorite song.
When kids teased Mr. Siemers, his big sister, Myrtle Larson, beat them up. Once, at her father's instruction, she jammed a stick into the bicycle wheel of a boy who kept ramming into Mr. Siemers on the 2-mile walk to school.
When the words didn't come out right, she interpreted. She could hear him just fine.
* * *
He was 35 pounds and the size of a 3-year-old when the family moved from Pennsylvania to Florida for the warmth. But he was 7 years old.
Here, he flourished. He excelled at math and puzzles, and could recite which day of the week any historical event occurred. His sister said he was savant-like.
At Northeast High School, people came to love Mr. Siemers. He played the trumpet in the band, and his peers voted him "Most Talented Boy."
Then, his world crumbled.
During Mr. Siemers' senior year, his father died suddenly. His father represented unconditional love and acceptance.
He became sullen, bitter and determined to feel more like a man. He joined the Air Force.
He dreamed of being a navigator. He scored brilliantly on the written tests, Larson said, but his physical limitations were too much. He was honorably discharged with a note calling him a fine young man.
Mr. Siemers felt like he failed. His family was so proud.
"Part of the genius is the dark side, many times," said Larson. "He certainly had the genius."
* * *
He was 90 pounds and 5 feet 2 when he died Tuesday after suffering a stroke. He was 68.
His friends at the Sunshine Senior Center called his home when he didn't show up - he always showed up.
Mr. Siemers was a fixture in downtown St. Petersburg. Twice a week, he ate hot dogs at the Coney Island Grill. He hung out at the senior center, and belonged to the St. Petersburg Chess Club for almost 40 years.
Over the years, his outlook brightened. He had a sweet sense of humor. His favorite joke: A man was walking down the street and asked, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Practice, practice, practice.
He sang and played music at nursing homes and community centers. He did rapid-fire crossword puzzles and sudoku. And recently, he accomplished his biggest goal: getting his own apartment.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at or 727 893-8857.
George Arthur Siemers Jr.
Born: Dec. 22, 1938.
Died: Nov. 27, 2007.
Survivors: sister, Myrtle Larson, brother-in-law, Fred Larson; aunt, Mary Lawton Graham; two nieces, a nephew, several cousins and grandnieces.
Services: Visitation from 2 to 4 p.m. today at Anderson McQueen Funeral Home, 2201 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. Funeral at 2 p.m. Monday, same location. Burial following at Woodlawn Memory Gardens.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Say Hello to Linda Crain-Cocks

Linda Crain-Cocks sends this photo, taken in 2006 by her son, of her and her husband. To quote Billy Crystal from Saturday Night Live, "she looks maaaaahvelous!" Linda, now a widow, is living in Homosassa, FL. She is working to make a contact with June Sharpe-Henry, now living in Tennessee.

Captain Mac could sing, too!

Charles Welch adds a memory to our mentions of "Captain Mac" (in real life Burl McCarty) who had an afternoon show for kids in the early days of WSUN-TV. Captain Mac, says Charles, also had a good singing voice and sang in the choir at First Baptist Church (then located on 4th St. N., just across the street from Williams Park.

Photo courtesy of Larry Britner.

Lost and Found Vikings

June Sharpe-Henry has been on our list of "Vikings to find" and now Sue Foreman-Bagg sends this exciting news: I just got a call from Billie Campbell '57 Fielder.She saw Tom Muntz at at a Christmas party where he was handing a list of our "lost ones"Billie's grandson was coached in Little League by Mike Woods (married to June's daughter Kim). So Billie called Kim who told her June had moved to Tennessee. Billie got her address and phone number, which I just gave to Linda Crain-Cocks, who said she would call her and tell her about the reunion. I'm breathless."

Sue also reports that all mail to Carol Huffman-Wise at a New Port Richey address has bounced back. Is there someone out there who can help us locate Carol?

Remember Diane Brown? Sue reports: Linda Sue Crain-Cocks gets a special award for discovering that we left Diane T. Brown off our master list ENTIRELY. Diane was not included in any of our old reunion lists, but she sure was in my homeroom and I remember her vividly... now that Linda asked about her. This is a perfect example of how much I need all of you on this search committee.

Linda thinks Diane joined a band as a singer right after high school and may have married a member of that band. Linda's taking on the search and if you can help her with it in any way, please send her your clues at
Or call her at 352-563-2390

Sandy Creitz is in our "twilight zone", according to Sue--we have information on her, but there is no response to attempts to contact her. If you have any suggestions on where to look for Sandy, drop Sue a line at

The current total for our Lost Viking List is 94.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Remember the County Fair?

The annual Pinellas County Fair in Largo was a red-letter event on my calendar as a child. We got a half-day off from school to attend the opening day. At that time, Largo was considered the "country town" a few miles north of St. Petersburg, where they put on a heckuva of a fair. Kids usually flocked to the rides, the junk food, the carnival games. In my teenaged years, the guys who took their girlfriends were proud to win them teddy bears (or other stuffed animals) by knocking down milk bottles with a ball or showing off their expertise in other arcade contests.

There was also the standard "freak show" that was part of the midway. Many times, after paying money, I thought the guy on the outside of the tent, encouraging us to buy tickets, had really over-hyped what there was to look at.

The grownups liked to go see the agricultural-type competition in livestock, jellies and jams, quilting...4-H Club members competed with cows or pigs they had raised for blue ribbons.

The old fairground property has long been torn down and replaced by attractive landscaping and other buildings. Largo is no longer considered a "country" town and now has a modern look and a lot of residents.

Remember the Festival of States?

Do you remember the annual Festival of States (now called the Sunshine Festival)? When I was in elementary school (North Ward), we got off school a half-day in the spring to go see the parade in downtown St. Petersburg. At that time each of the "state societies" (clubs formed by people who wintered in town from Ohio, Michigan, New York, etc.) sponsored a candidate for queen of the festival.

The young women (around 18 years old or so) got their "stage training" at the Charm School, held at Al Lang Field (if memory serves me) and then they competed (bathing suits and all) in a contest for the queen's title.

Later, the competition changed its qualifications and today the young women seem to be chosen from prominent local families. (Correct me on that one if I'm wrong.) I think the bathing suit part of the contest has long since vanished. In today's version, there is also a "Mr. Sun" (a prominent business person) who is crowned at the ball, along with the new festival queen. Then they share a place on a special float in the parade.

On a spring day (usually March or April), I can remember as a kid the thrill of seeing colorful floats, hearing the marching bands (both in-state and out-of-state) and seeing the Shriners clowns in funny outfits and tiny bicycles.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Theatre from the Good Old Days

Charles Welch got some of us started recently in an exchange of memories about theatres in downtown St. Petersburg. Larry Britner sends along this picture of La Plaza. (This picture was captured loooooong before you and I were born because those people you see are standing out in the street. Anybody who tried that during our youth might have gotten hit by a car and taken to Mound Park Hospital.)
During the time I was growing up in St. Pete, La Plaza was probably the theatre with the prettiest approach or entrance. Just around the corner from it, on 5th St. S, between Central and 1st Ave. S. was the Florida Theatre, where some of our classmates battled the mobs who came to see Elvis Presley--and they lived to tell about it!

A Taste of Architecture

"Architecture" was a word I didn't use much (if at all) when I was growing up in St. Pete. Most of the buildings we all looked at were variations of the rectangle and the square. When I took a Humanities course at SPJC as an adult, I learned that St. Mary's Catholic Church, on 4th St. South and 5th Ave., was an example of "Byzantine architecture". The term itself gave me a new appreciation for the building.

Jean Davis Brown writes that St. Mary's was where she was married, many years ago. She used to go to a 5 am Mass there before going to work. She remembers that it was the only church in St. Pete at the time that had varied "ethnicities" and that the women who attended all wore hats and gloves.

Thanks to Larry Britner for the picture of St. Mary's.

Do You Remember?

The Open Air Post Office, at the corner of 1st Ave. North and 4th St., was considered a "tourist attraction" when I was a kid. I can remember my mom going there to buy stamps. Nowadays the building is still used, but the city's post office headquarters moved out to a new location on 1st Ave. N. near 34th St. Larry Britner sent this 1948 picture of the post office in the "old days" (or rather in our "young days".)
Jean Davis Brown remembers a guy who hung around the Open Air Post Office, dressed in a red women's outfit (usually shorts) and carrying a large purse. The tourists must have been thrilled.
The tall building in the background (for us in St. Pete, that was a "skyscraper") is the Rutland Building, owned by the Rutland family. On the first floor of that building, at the corner of Central and 4th St., was a chi-chi women's dress shop named "Ruth's". Ruth Rutland was the wife of Hubert Rutland. I believe that they owned a penthouse at the top of the building. The Rutland department store, well known for its ready-to-wear for both men and women, was a major member of the downtown retail market when we were kids. Competitors included Willson-Chase Department Store (our classmate James Willson was son of the owner) and Maas Brothers.

Aviation History in Our Home Town

Larry Britner sent along this photo of the Tony Jannus' famous first flight across Tampa Bay, from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Larry writes:
The world's first scheduled passenger airline using an airplane was the St. Petersburg-Tampa Air Line (also called the "Airboat Line"). On January 1, 1914, pilot Tony Jannus flew one passenger across Florida's Tampa Bay in a Benoist type XIV flying boat. While it only operated for three or four months, the airline's twice daily roundtrips greatly influenced commercial aviation.

Jannus is remembered in a Tony Jannus Day celebration, sponsored by Albert Whitted Airport. At a special luncheon, a person receives the annual Tony Jannus award for contributions to aviation. You can see a model of Jannus' plane in the St. Petersburg Historical Museum.
Vose Pneuman writes that sometimes he thinks he may have flown in Tony's aircraft across Tampa Bay in 1914.."or was it waterskiing or maybe it was fishing at Jannus Landing.
(Editor's Note: Technically, that may have been fishing at Demens Landing, once called the South Mole. In the "segregation days" we grew up in, South Mole was also the location of the swimming beach for African-Americans. )
As Larry Britner remembers South Mole, "it was not unlike a vacant lot with a few city storage sheds and stacks of pilings that just happened to stick in the water, with a concrete dockside facing south used almost exclusively for the city-operated tug boat/barge used in dock repair.

Small World in Panama Part II

Jean Davis Brown, who was in Panama while I was there sends this note about Pat Smith, one of our classmates, who was also in Panama at the same time. (Jean knew about it; I didn't.) Small world, one more time!

Jean writes:
Pat Smith was also in Panama when we were there. She was married to an Army Warrant officer with the last name of Johns. She was in charge of the ceramic shop on the air base. On New Years Eve she gave a party to which we were invited to and on the buffet table she had this big "john" full of ceviche(that great raw fish dish that cooks in limes and onions etc). It was really something to see us all scarfing up the ceviche out of the john. I almost didn't recognize her as she was so tiny then. Small world.

It Must Be The Water They Drink!

John Krege sent this photo showing him and his wife Trudy Andringa Krege as they are today. Do they look terrific or what! (Trudy was the valedictorian for our class.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Zoom Over Miami

Since I moved from St. Petersburg to Miami in September 2001 (right after 9/11), the most frequent question I have heard from St. Pete friends is, “WHY do you want to live in Miami?”

I’m not sure I can answer that question in 25 words or less, but for our blog readers who have a standard, tourist-oriented picture of Miami, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about this crazy metropolis.

First, let me address some myths about the place:
1. Miami is the same as Miami Beach. Wrong. Miami Beach is where all the tourists want to go. Miami is the place where the airport is located. They stay in Miami only long enough to get a cab or a rental car to take them to Miami Beach.

2.Miami Beach is for everybody. Speaking with lots of bias, I can say that Miami Beach is for everybody who is young (under 40), physically fit and attractive, possessed of an upscale clothing budget, a keen ability to find a parking place where none exist, lots of credit cards or cash for high-priced dining, and the stamina to party all night long. Miami Beach is the place to look for celebrities such as rock stars, sports stars, movie stars, TV personalities, etc. They “drop in” on the fancy-schmancy restaurants on Miami Beach like you and I might drop in at the neighborhood Burger King.

3. Miami is populated only by Cubans. The Cubans have the PR knack but actually, Miami is populated by Argentinians, Chileans, Brazilians, Colombians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Puerto Ricans, Peruvians, Panamanians. Ecuadoreans, Salvadorans, as well as Asians from China, India, Pakistan, and Japan. These groups tolerate the existence of English-speaking American citizens within the city limits.

4. You have to know Spanish if you want to get along in Miami. (Now that I think of it, this statement really ISN'T a myth.) Although Spanish is not the national language of the US, you might get that impression if you spend a lot of time in Miami. A good standard phrase (that I learned from Mrs. Shrum in Spanish class) is “Como se dice este?” (How do you say this?”)

5. The Spanish language is all alike for everybody who speaks it as a first language. Incorrecto, gringo. Each of the Spanish-speaking groups mentioned above have their own “special vocabulary” (none of which I know), but THEY can tell if the person speaking Spanish to them is NOT a member of their own national group.

6. The taco (as in the Taco Bell product) is the universal Spanish food. Incorrecto, once again, gringo turista. The Cuban food that dominates in Miami includes things like chicken and yellow rice (arroz con pollo), roast pork, black beans and rice, and flan (a pudding swimming in a caramel sauce). However, it is possible to spend two weeks in Miami and eat each night at a different ethnic-themed restaurant without ever duplicating.

I’ll add more chapters to this analysis of Miami later. For now, I’ll say “Buenos dias” or “Buenos noches”, depending on the time zone where you’re reading this.

Rosa Lee Remembers: Gas Wars and a Sax Player

Rosa Lee Ramsey-McKnight has memories on top of memories! Here's what she wrote about gas wars and other stuff:

Do you all remember the gas wars at the two stations across from "Toot and Tell It" drive-in restaurant??? Gas would be 18 to 19 cents a gallon! Joyce and I would scrape up every penny we could get our hands on and fill up my old '48 Chevy! Also, does anyone out there remember the sax player, Earl Bostic? He had out a big hit around '57 or '58 and I don't remember the name of the hit but on the flip side was a song called, of all things, "Redskin Cha-Cha" and it was beautiful. Have never forgotten that song. It was on the Jukebox at "Crossroads Drive In."

Rosa Lee's Hotel Memories

In a recent email, Rosa Lee Ramsey-McKnight asked for the name of a hotel she remembered. (Editor's note: It sounds like the Soreno, but if any of you out there have a better answer, let us know.)

Hey, the mention of a hotel brings this question. Can anyone tell me the name of the big pink hotel one block off Central Ave? Mickey Mantle and some of the Yankees roomed there when they came for spring training at Al Lang Field. Joyce Crow and I tried every way in the world to get in there one night to see Mickey Mantle but we weren't sucessful. I have tried to remember the name of the hotel and can't. We did get to meet Mickey Mantle and Ryan Duran one night on Madeira Beach at a club (shall remain nameless) and we danced with both of them! Joyce was on cloud nine for a month after that! Oh Boy. Those were the days!

Rosa Lee Ramsey-McKnight's Favorite Teachers

Dorothy Clonts was the best ever! I loved her dearly. Always looked forward to a capella choir. Next favorite was Mr. Henry Fink. Only had one art class with him but really liked it and him. Mrs. Shrum made a lasting impression on me but not so favorable! LOL I also liked ole Coach Crum pretty well. Had him for American History. I remember one time Roger Whitehead didn't get a big long assignment done and it was due the next day. He begged me into loaning him mine to copy the answers. Guess what? He not only didn't bring his in, he forgot mine too!!! Than was the end of my lending out my hard work!! Roger still owes me one for that.LOL

Christmas Is a Time of the Year

Larry Britner contributed this scenario of Christmas in St. Petersburg, as he remembers it. Perhaps you'll recall some of the same details--remember Christmas Tree Lane, on the approach to the Pier--where various merchants adopted an Australian pine tree on the side of the street and decorated it with lights?

With a certain clatter of pan against pan, the cookie sheets came out from the bottom of things with the daily and smaller stacked upon the seasonal and larger; cookie sheets always on the bottom. The tree had already been up for a week or better. Bowls of fruits sat on the table along with nuts of every kind, and dishes of hard candies, red, white, and green. Two days, three days with Christmas yet to come, it was time for the oven to be put on pre-heat for the baking of things; cookies cut to stars and trees and reindeer too, divinity candy nothing so sweet, peanut brittle, and other home made candies too.

Christmas wasn't a day, but a time of a year. The trees were green, carefully selected, "Is this too tall?" Mom at 4' 11", everything was too tall, and the cabinets too high; always a large kitchen with a foot stool at hand. The trees were not sold at stores leaned against an outside wall, but in open fields of any size, and arranged as to be an art accommodating selection. Pathways wandered among the sweet smell of the arrival of the time of the year, and selection of "just right" amid a "Hello, how are you today?" a friend to see, wandering among the clusters of trees; it was not a time of hurry.

Selected, the tree was tied down to the roof of the car, or left sticking feet out of the trunk. Thirty, thirty-five miles per hour, the tree laden car came down 5th Avenue, 16th Street, or from wherever it came. No seventy-five mile per hour run down the interstate, and corners taken with care that the tree not shift to suddenly be obstructing vision besides damage to the carefully selected tree. From off the car and into the house, and a nip of a limb here and another there, the small but sturdy red stand of four green legs, and spike in the pan was pulled from a closet or taken from the attic. The bolts screwed in tight, "Is that straight?", and Dad's job was over. Time for a chair, time for a cup of coffee for him while the decorating began.

Poor little Jerry, seven kids in all, and all he could do was the bottom. "Wait a minute, there are too many reds all in one place." Was Mom really in charge of decorating the tree? or was she just the corrector of things among seven kids that each knew how to do it just right? Well, maybe not, but wherever one's hands could reach that the other six pairs of hands were not. "Don't forget the back of the tree." There was a certain ritual of how it would be done, and a certain ritual in what would be said. "Too many in one place", "Don't forget the back of the tree", and "Let Jerry do some." Strands of tinsel tossed on, star at the top, and then was the moment, "Turn the lights on".

With wide sidewalks, and store fronts from little to large running from corner to corner Christmas was not a rush. It was a time of sweet odor, Christmas song, and greeting, "Merry Christmas". It was a time of nightly drives down Christmas Tree Lane; parking and doing certain on foot. The nativity scene, always new and always the same ... live animals and figurines depicting nearly two thousand years earlier. And a ride through neighborhoods to see the private lights.

Santa with a bell on every corner, music in the air, and a toyland filling the basement of Kress's. Civitan, Key, and Rotary Clubs with booths set up; one in a block here and another there in quiet reminders that Christmas was for everyone. PTA's in school as well, and every class keeping a basket to be filled.

Christmas was not a day, but a time of the year.

Bruce Hugill Has Been Powerless!

Bruce Hugill (resident of Skiatook, Oklahoma) wrote to say he just got his electrical power back after seven days of no lights, no computer, no hot water, etc. (You may have heard about the hard snows in the American West--it was in all the newspapers).

Well, when he turned on his computer, he found 400 emails waiting for him, and 100 of those were related to our class "reconnection". He had a cheerful attitude about it, saying he was enjoying the memories, but when he found out about our blog, he was even happier.

So the next time you have problems, picture yourself living a week with no gas or electric power.

Bill Coate's Teaching Goal

In an email Bill Coate, now a resident of Madera, CA, shared an anecdote from his classroom. He's been teaching for 36 years, mostly U.S. history for junior high students. One day he said to his students, "My teaching goal is to be California's oldest teacher in the classroom."

Without blinking an eye, a quick-witted student asked, "How old are you now?"

We know the answer to that question, but we're not telling.

More Memory Joggers from Charles Welch

Have you ever explained to your grandchildren (or anybody under 18) that when you were a kid:
1. You sat at the dinner table until you finished your meal, whether or not you were thrilled with the food on the plate?
2. You had to ask to be excused from the table before you could leave?
3. Milk was delivered to your house (although pizza wasn't).
4. There weren't any credit cards although Sears and Roebuck had a revolving charge card.
5. There was ONE telephone in the house. It was usually located in the living room (not your bedroom) and your phone line was a party-line, shared by other families.
6. Boys on bikes delivered newspapers in the early morning. Those delivery boys came to your house to collect your subscription money for the newspaper.
7. When TV made its appearance in our homes, it was black-and-white.
8. After your mom washed the clothes, the shirts, dresses, slacks, etc., were ironed on the ironing board. Your mom "sprinkled" the clothes to be ironed, using a bottle of water that had a cap on it with small holes.
9. Soda pop machines dispensed glass bottles.
10. Milk came in glass bottles, not cardboard containers.
11. When you went to the movies, there was a newsreel that came on first, with film about news events in other parts of the U.S. and the world. (This was long before the 6pm TV news.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2008 Reunion Details

Here is what's definite as of December 2007 for our 2008 reunion:
Thursday, May 15, 6 PM-11 PM, The Coliseum. Entertainment (band), food, cash bar.

Here is what COULD happen if you let Woody and Sue know that you're interested:
A bowling party on Wednesday, May 14 (either afternoon or evening)
A bus tour of St. Pete, to see the new skyline, Thursday, May 15, daytime
Golf outing, Friday, May 16

Woody and Sue NEED to get enough commitments of interest in order to plan these extra events. They can't be put together at the last minute.

Contact Woody at
Contact Sue at

Your First Car!

During our years at NEHS, most of us started driving and perhaps owned our first car. What do you remember about that first car? Mine was a 1957 yellow and white Chevy (4-door, basic, not the fancier BelAir). I remember my first wreck--I rear-ended somebody on one of the side streets near Webb's City. It was about 5 pm on a weekday afternoon and the sun was in my eyes. And boom! Hello, reality!

OK, tell us what you remember...was it a brand-new car or one that you built or reconstructed yourself or that you inherited from a family member?

Monday, December 17, 2007

How Did You Get To Where You Are?

Members of the 1958 graduating class at Northeast High School live all over the planet. Whether you moved far away from St. Petersburg or you stayed in town, what was it that influenced you to live where you now live?

Here is what Mardi Kline Zeiger has to say on the topic:
For me, there never was a question that I'd leave St. Pete. My mom died the year after graduation, and I stayed in town taking care of my dad, working at the Driftwood Cafeteria, and studying at SPJC. Dad finally pushed me out of the house to "get a life" so I crashed with my brother in Washington, DC, until I found a place of my own. When I was writing the NeHi column for the St. Pete Times--my very first job-- remember my boss saying that to be a good editor, you don't have to be an expert in journalism; you just have to be good at writing or editing, and to know something about what's going in the world. He was right. In Washington I parlayed my experience at the Times, and what I learned working on the NeHi newspaper into a career; found a series of writing and editing jobs, at Science magazine, the Macke Company (did their employee newsletters), and the National University Extension Association. During that time I met Errol, who was stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; we married after three months (we still celebrate May 12 as our anniversary; that was the day we met) and eventually had two sons and a daughter. Errol finished his Army service, worked for NIH and went to George Washington University graduate school, earned his degree in microbiology, and went into research, first at NIH, then at the Food and Drug Administration. Meanwhile, I finished my degree at the University of Maryland, continued working and raising kids. Eventually, Errol was offered a post In Research Triangle Park, NC, at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the only part of NIH outside Washington; we ended up in Chapel Hill, NC, where we've been since 1976. I've spent my time here editing and writing for a number of professional journals in areas as widespread as genetics, environmental mutagenesis, urban planning, and Middle Eastern studies, along with doing freelance work. Took a break to spend Errol's sabbatical year (actually 14 months) in Paris. It was a wonderful year, and we had some memorable experiences. Like watching a total eclipse from a soccer stadium in Epernay, then wandering through the champagne country, and like welcoming in the year 2000 with a million other people at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. After we returned home, Errol retired from the government and now is a consultant in microbiology and related areas. I've been doing freelance editing, acting as the Jewish chaplain for three local hospitals, and in general keeping out of mischief (most of the time).

Big Four Summit Conference

This photo is too good not to share with the world.
Here you see the Brain Trust, the Power People, looking just like they did in high school.
Left to right: Woody Reed Tanner, Roger Whitehead, Doug Hotalen and Ronnie Murphy.

The Summit Conference was held in Key West. We're sure they drank nothing but Diet Coke and herbal tea.

Captions are solicited for this classic photo.

Cooler Than Cool

This is my debut at inserting photos, and what better way to start than sharing the "cool guys" that we all knew. Big Guy Bob Vannatta (in this photo contributed by John Krege) looks more than comfortable and at ease with Bonnie and Sue (last names not provided--they're weren't in our 1958 class). And the foursome you see is Cool John Krege on the left with Cool Good Buddy James Kaiser on the right, again with the lovely Bonnie and Sue.
You are invited to contribute your own captions for these photos.

Let's Go to the Movies

When we were sharing a large volume of emails among ourselves, The Movies came out as one of the liveliest topics. I will try to insert some of the highlights from those emails, but for starters in this brand new post, here's what Woody Reed Tanner recalls about the Florida Theatre. (Apparently some jobs call for heavy insurance coverage!) Then take a look at movie memories from Sue Bagg-Foreman and Skip Cleveland.

After reading Barb's note on her experience, I thought I would share this. That same summer I was an usher for the Florida, making a whopping 35 cents an hr. Then we heard Elvis was going to come there to perform, I didn't even know who he was. haha. Well the day of the show, the large crowd outside was getting restless, the manager told me to go open the doors, well I did and was immediately knocked down and nearly stampeded to oblivion, when a policeman reached down and jerked me to my feet and saved the day. He obviously knew what was going to happen, not little naive me. Well we all watched the show and I was hooked on Elvis from then to now. The rumors you hear about female clothing left behind or thrown at the stage, are true. When we had to clean up between shows us ushers could not believe what we found. That was something for the mid 50's. Barbara I am surprised I didn't remember such a cute girl working there at that time. WoodyPS I worked all summer and saved $35 and bought Rick Rados' 1925 2 door chevy with wooden spoked wheels. Roger, Doug, Ronnie, Norman, and I Went everywhere in that thing. Then the following summer I sold it to a sophomore for $25. Do you know what that car would be worth today?

Sue Bagg recalls: went to see Elvis at the beginning of his career at the Florida Theatre. I think I went with Joan Moody and a couple other girlfriends. That was when my mother said "in a year you won't remember who he is." I was a fan of his and saw him in concert 4 times during his career.

John Bagg says, in our listing of downtown theatres from the "old days", we're forgetting the Paramount in the 1800 block of Central Ave. He says it's still there under the freeway. He wonders why the classic Florida Theater building is gone and the junky Paramont is still there. Hmmm.

Here is a priceless movie memory from Skip Cleveland:

I worked at the Pheil theater at one of my first jobs. The projection room was hung outside in a tin building on a fire escape affair. From there was a ladder bolted to the outside that went up over the top of the dome so that you (me) could climb up and change chandelier bulbs through a trap door in the dome ceiling. This was all about three stories up over the alley, I am biting a hole in my chair now. Oklahoma played there for about a month along with a little trailer about a kid growing up in Africa; the music was sing song junk and was unbearable.

There were some good movies there though, teen ager stuff with Little Richard and others. That place was real a dump but fun.

We had no corn popper so, we went down to the Cameo and brought it back in large plastic bags. If we got these during rush hour, we had to cross 4th. and Central diagonally to save time. For some reason, the bags would break open in the middle of the intersection and spill pop corn out which would then get scattered around. It got swarmed by about a billion pigeons which would tie up traffic for an hour or more. As I mentioned, it was fun.

Elvis made his appearance at the Florida theatre one night which was quite an event.
The Sun was an art film theatre all right; they showed European films and a bunch of us went there to see ''God Created Woman'' staring Brigitte Bardot. We all thought that was a bit of a letdown considering the local talent in good old St. Skeet and Tampa.

Small World Dept.

In an email exchange with Jean Davis Brown recently, we both found out that we were in the Panama Canal Zone at the same time (for at least a year, anyway). She taught children at a military base just "down the street" from where I lived, and Dennis was working for OSI.

After spending so many years, with no hope of ever seeing any friends of mine from NEHS 58 (except June Sharpe Henry), it is amazing to me to find connections like this one with Jean. She and I have some long catch-up conversations ahead of us.

Barbara Monrose and Carolyn Gramling live just one county away from me (in Broward County) and we're planning on getting together sometime in the near future. When I called Barbara last weekend, her husband said she was in a cookie-making marathon for her church; we talked later and got caught up on what our lives have been up to for the last 50 years.

Have you had a "small world" experience through this reunion re-connection--you found an old friend you hadn't seen or talked to in years or found out that the two of you were in the same area of the planet without knowing it?

Here's a place to share your story. The "small world" thing is one more benefit of this 50-year reunion.

Places to Eat

One of the places where you probably spent some time as a Northeast student was in the local fast-food places, restaurants, drive-ins. Which ones were your favorites?

McDonald's, because it was a novelty and because prices were cheap, was a favorite of mine. Nearby, also on 34th St. was a sit-down restaurant called The Dutch Pantry. If my finances were up to it, sometimes the group I was with went to Wolfie's at Central Plaza--because Wolfie's was on the high-end of pricing.

I remember that Triplett's,across the street from SPHS, was popular with teenagers in our era. There was a drive-in root beer place on 16th St. N, near "downtown" that was popular. Toot n Tellit was at the intersection of 16th St. and Haines Road.

Which were your favorites for burgers, fries, pizza, chicken, etc.? Where were the ice cream places you remember?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

More Memory Joggers

Charles Welch sent along some photos of "things of our past"'ll have to ask him for the photos, but here are some items from his colorful list that brought back the "aaaaah" and "ooooh" for me...

Green stamps--did your family collect them?
Roller skate keys--Remember Gay Blades Roller Rink on 9th Ave. N?
Drive-in movies--the 28th St. Drive-In? How many of us really went there to watch the MOVIE?
Topo Gigio--the cute little mouse figure that showed up on "The Ed Sullivan" show?
15-cent hamburgers--Remember when McDonald's opened up on 34th St. N.?
25-cent gas--I remember that a dollar's worth of gas could get me up to Clearwater and part of the way back.
Penny candy--That was something that could fit in our teen-aged budgets.
Studebakers--Those funny-looking cars that looked the same both coming and going.
Radio shows--Remember "Sky King", "Sgt. Preston", "The Green Hornet", "The Shadow"?
Washing machines with wringers--Maybe your mom had one of those. I can remember, as a small kid, getting my hand caught in the wringer. Dumb!
Car hops at the drive-in restaurants--I remember a root beer place (The Barrel?) on 9th or 16 St. No, just a block or so south of 9th (or was it 5th) Avenue.
5-cent Cokes
Speedy Alka-Seltzer--
a little puppet-type guy in the TV commercials
Burma Shave signs--these were my all-time favorites...when we took family vacations to Georgia or Alabama, I loved watching for those signs that had funny, rhyming messages.
BrylCreem--Remember the commercials about "a little dab'll do ya" and the guy who put too much on his hair and had large numbers of women chasing him down the street? (Or something to that effect)
Brownie cameras and flashbulbs--Maybe your first efforts at photography involved these. Who knew that there would be digital cameras one day or phones that take pictures?

People We Are Looking For

Sue Bagg-Foreman tells us that we've located about 144 people so far in our search for fellow graduates.

This post will keep a running list of who we're looking for and who has volunteered to spearhead the search:

Sandra Creitz: If you'd like to volunteer to search for Sandy, get in touch with Sue Bagg Foreman at

Joel Easom: If you'd like to volunteer to search for Joel, get in touch with Sue Bagg Foreman at

Michael William Bruce: Larry Britner, a fellow Marine, has volunteered to try and find Mike.


Jan Wilfong
has located Garrett Johnson.

Alice Hantz Johnston
writes that through a contact of her sister's, she located Jacqueline Mary Wells. Jacqueline and her husband sold their home in St. Pete and are traveling in a motor home, but you can reach her at cell 727-710-2025. Her email is

Here are some more names on our Search List. Maybe you know someone who knows someone who can help us make a connection:

Mary Lou Andrews, George Bakerich, Mary Gail Barnes, Paula Cecele Beam, Darlene Virginia Bennett, Martha Jeanne Best, Marjorie Evelyn Bolle, Douglas Leicester Brisbin, Robert Warren Brown, and Suzanne Mae Brown.

Teachers to Remember

Was there a teacher you had at Northeast High who made an indelible mark on your life? It could have been a teacher who taught you some solid lessons about life or who was such a nightmare you KNEW you will never model yourself after THAT person.

Recent nominations for memorable, in a positive way, have been Kenneth Pschorr (physiology teacher), Eric Whitted (vice principal), Coach Kaelber, Robert Challener (drama teacher), Dorothy Clonts (chorus teacher), and Genevieve Shrum (Spanish teacher).