The Key to East High School

The book was printed a couple years before it was issued to me, with a warning not to lose it.

And, I didn't lose it. I still have it. Four decades later.

Of course, it's of no earthly good to me, unless I want to be reminded of the fact that I took two years of Latin, in ninth and tenth grade; that I actually took a course called "office machines" in twelfth grade; and that I had a regulation, white, one piece gym suit.

Or, that I had a five digit phone number, 64077; that Gladys "Hands on the Guide Keys" George was my typing teacher; and that it looks like I probably forged my father's signature on my class plans when I entered tenth grade.

That's when I got the book, January of 1957, my first day of my first semester in tenth grade. The official "Key to East High School." Officially bound in orange and black, our school colors, and became an East Black Raider. These were the days before we became politically correct, obviously.

The Black Raider, the book informed me, signified that East's teams were champions of honor. Years later some of the PC folks in Sioux City tried to change the Raider. But, it didn't work. He's still there.

As are the two Sioux Indians looking toward the lamp of learning on the school emblem. The school song started out with "On the banks of old Missouri." I've almost forgotten the tune, and definitely forgotten most of the words.

I remember marching with the band, ushering, choir, G-Y, Hi-Y, working on the school paper and yearbook--all listed in my book, by semester.

This key to my High School, some 40 years ago, was very complete. Discovering it in the basement last week, I read it, and found advice like, "the record you make as a citizen is of equal importance with your scholarship record."

And, "The wholehearted cooperation of the student body eliminates the necessity for rules." "You must be considerate of others, willing to assume responsibility, be ready to do your share, be dependable so that others do not carry an extra load because you have failed to do your part."

"Be honest." "The individual who cheats, lies and steals shows a lack of will power and cheats himself out of one of man's most treasured possessions--self respect."

There was more, a lot more. "Don't make excuses; make good." "The purpose of a high school is to help you develop mentally morally, physically and socially." "When you enroll in East High School, you do so with the implied understanding that you desire to participate."

The book was 98 pages long. With rules on lunch periods, bells, lockers and locks, a map of the building, list of all faculty members, how to get back in class after an absence. The latter with the reminder that unless you were indeed ill, or there was a family emergency, you were expected to be there--and being absent cost your family money because the state reimbursed expenses based on attendance.

Even, the process for dropping out of school.

All students got one clean towel for each shower after gym, and had to provide gym locker lock. Locks for boys were optional.

A half day off for Armistice Day. A two dollar book deposit--not per book but for the whole year. A dozen city bus passes for a dollar, with student i.d., which cost a quarter if you lost the original.

If you lived more than three miles away, you could take the bus. The rest of us walked.

If we contracted polio we had to be excluded from classes for seven days. Fourteen for diphtheria or smallpox. The school nurse visited every Monday morning.

Six students were chosen to hold the school doors open in case of a fire drill.

Girls could take meal planning, home furnishings, or child care for credit. Boys could choose machine shop, auto mechanics or woodshop.

A local clergyman was chosen to speak at Baccalaureate each year, where girls were to wear dark shoes and street length dress, but no corsages. Boys had to wear complete suits under their robes.

Commencement tickets cost ten cents each.

Great nostalgia. But would I want to return? Not on your life.

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014