You Can't Go Home Again—Or Can You?
You’ve often heard it said, “You can’t go home again.” Many have tried, with mixed results. Perhaps the most famous example is that of Emily Webb in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. After Emily passes on, she discovers it is possible to go back and take up her life among the living for a short while. All of her companions, also departed, advise her not to do it, because it won’t be what she expects. Not only will she relive the time she chooses, she will watch herself reliving it; and she will know what happens next. When they see that Emily is determined to go back, they advise her to choose the least important day of her life, because, ”It will be important enough.” She chooses her twelfth birthday, and, accompanied by the Stage Manager, back she goes. Those of you who have read the play know how it turned out.
In a few weeks, I will be going back in time. A car will turn onto Crilly Court and stop in front of my house. A handsome gentleman will exit and walk up to my front door, where I will be waiting. We will look at each other for a moment, trying to find some semblance of our former selves. After all, it has been more than fifty years. When we see it, I will take his arm and he will lead me to the car where another distinguished gentleman waits. We will repeat the scenario, then off we will go, north to the Indian Hill Country Club. I will open a door and, just like that, I will be in another time and place, and the revelers awaiting me will not be alumnae from that long ago time and far away place, they will be my wonderful Aa and Ab Cores from Skokie Junior High School, Winnetka, Illinois, 1962. When I walk through that door and back in time, this is what I will expect to see.
Just as all of them will expect to see this:
SAL with Dave Porter, 1962
But, more than fifty years have passed, and I hope they won't be too shocked to see a SAL who now looks like this. Of course, I guess that they've changed too in fifty years.
(I should explain, that the students called me SAL among themselves—Mrs. Lucking in the classroom.) The black hair is now “platinum”, and I am no longer a size 4 dripping wet.
Other than that, I really haven’t changed. I’m just a little rearranged.
Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were.
Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch
There are so many wonderful things I remember about my days at Skokie School—
- I remember answering Dave Porter’s question about what I did to relax by saying I took a hot bath. One day, I guess I was being particularly cranky, and he asked if I had accidentally taken a shower.
- I remember Jim Davis coming into my room, pulling out his guitar and launching into a chorus of “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
- I remember being chastised by someone for putting up a small Christmas tree on my desk. Mick Tauber, our classroom comedian, came to my defense by saying, “What Christmas tree? I only see a Hannukah bush.”
- I remember sitting at a chair in front of the class (I never sat behind the class) and I guess I showed a little too much leg. The next day the aforesaid Mick came in with a cloth that covered the front of the chair. I still have that cloth.
- I remember sending Jon Hattis to the Learning Lab to research Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin by reading “Three Who Made a Revolution” to discover the differences between the Russian Revolution and ours.
- I remember Doug Myers refusing to pronounce Copernicus’ name correctly. He insisted on calling him “Copper Nick Us. Accent on the Nick.
- I remember the Aa girls coming by the house on Halloween and soaping the screen on my back porch. I never got that soap off.
Most of all, I remember the high point of our 1962 year—when I got it into my head to write a play about the Roaring Twenties.
Cover by Cindy McCuen
Won't you Charleston with me?
Won't you Charleston with me?
And while the band is playin' that Old vododeodo,
Around we will go.
Together will show them
How the Charleston is done
We'll surprise everyone.
Just think what heaven it’s gonna be
If you will Charleston, Charleston with me.
Since the students were all band/orchestra people, they had musical talent to burn, so the play turned out to be a musical—a series of skits and production numbers from plays about the Twenties. I had an incomparable group of “flappers” who did the Charleston better than any professional dancer I had ever seen. Dick Franklin as the Narrator was amazing, to say the least. Phil Krone, Doug Myers, and John Alfini stopped the show as the Keystone Kops. And who will forget Dave Porter and Laurel Lechner as Rudolph Valentino and his leading lady dancing the tango. They absolutely smoked it. Ron Goldman, Mirek Halaska, Dave Samuels, Sky Wise, George Brown, and Ben Miller brought the Sacco-Vanzetti trial to life; while the girls from both Cores sang their hearts out as the strikers in front of the Nifty Shirtwaist Factory, a scene from “Fiorello.” Jake Jerger coached our dance band, and Bill Bottom helped out with the vocals. And the wonderful Cindy McCuen did all of the fantastic visuals. Wasn’t that a time?
Some time after the performance, we decided to have a cast party at the beach. Didn't happen. We hauled all the food, blankets, frisbees, etc. down to the lake, and, of course, it rained, and rained, and rained. Bummer!
And then, our time together was over. The wonderful kids of Aa and Ab graduated and made their way to New Trier. Of course, I had other great classes, and I loved them all. But that year, 1962, was magical. There has never been another like it.
Filed under: Living in Interesting Times