Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Nope, it was mine

Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Nope, it was mine

Ferris Bueller had his day off and yes folks, I had mine. Just like Ferris, I was a teenager at one time and like any naughty kid one day I decided to take the day off. It was late 1949 and I was about to graduate from Harrison Technical High School on Chicago’s southwest side.

At that time in movie history, Tarzan movies were the rage of the day and a new episode was opening at The Chicago Theatre on State St. This generation has their Twilight Saga; well we had the Tarzan craze. I was actually in school about to enter my home room when my buddy looked at me and I looked at him and we said “Tarzan”. You have to have an accomplice to enjoy the dastardly deed and get away with it.

We both turned around on our heels and ran out the front entrance right to public transportation. Whew, we got away with it! After all the next day we would say that we were ill and that someone was supposed to call and let the school know.  Oh yeah we were the smart guys!  So, Merwin L.,  my buddy and soon to be lifelong friend and I went to the Chicago Theater and yelled and hollered with the rest of the crazy gang. We wondered what school they were all cutting for the day!

As part of our devious plan we had to make sure we arrived home around the time we'd normally get home from school. In those years the Chicago Theater had not only a movie but live performances of some the country’s biggest stars.  The show lasted longer than we thought so we had to get rolling home, fast. Our plan worked, or so we thought.  We were about to find out how smart we were. Oy vey if u know that means.

I arrived at our second floor walkup apartment, put the key in the door and there she was as always, my blessed mother. Except,  she wasn’t in the kitchen like she usually was, but in the hallway where they kept the telephone table, a piece of furniture in that era. Then I walked into the trap.

“So tell me Norman, how was school today?”  Ah! I got away with it! Ok Ma. My answer "It was like every other day, you know classes, lunch, the usual." Then the trap was set. Mom proceeded to look at me with a stern look. “Oh yes, I believe you uh-huh.” Mom continued,  “Mrs. Bissell called today (she was our home room teacher) and wondered how you were since you didn’t come to school".   "Well", Mrs. Bissell continued “when I saw Merwin wasn’t here and then Norman wasn’t I thought they were plotting something”.

Wow then the lashing started,  “I came to America so you could go to school and you cut today how could you?  I have to go to school with you and have you apologize for cutting.” That was worst punishment for me, not cutting school, but embarrassing my Mother like that.  I felt I had betrayed her trust and that was punishment enough for me. It was only one time and Mrs. Bissell shouldn’t have called.  What if I'd gotten away with it?

My Mother took me to school and talked to Mrs. Bissell. What she said exactly is something I never knew and didn’t want to know. In my years of schooling that was the only time I skipped.  It wasn’t that I was caught but losing the trust of my parents was something I would never do again. They were immigrants of that era and left Russia to come here and give their children a better life as so many immigrants do to this day. My lesson learned.

As a side note to my family, I was a teenager and occasionally did something I shouldn’t have. Sorry to burst the bubble.

Memories light the corners of mind and I hope yours too!


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    Oh, Norm, you bring to mind when I did the same thing. Cut school....only it was to go to a Cubs game. Earl W., Leila, Kenny P. & me. Had never been to one. We had to leave early, in the 7th inning, in order to get "back" by the time school let out, to be home on time. Cubs were losing, and we could hear the roar as the homer was hit to put the Cubs ahead, as we waited for the street car. Unfortunately, we got on one going the wrong way, and so then, having to go back all that way..yep. We were busted, too. (I had a job after school, missed that! Almost got fired!)

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