Minneapolis West High School

Class of 1960

50 Year Reunion

Minneapolis, MN

August 13th, 14th & 15th, 2010

Bill Jackson's Keynote Address

Saturday Night

Bill recalled his high school days and reminisced on how things had
changed since graduation. . .

Bill's Jackson's full Keynote address

Good evening former West High cowboys & cowgirls.

The reunion committee's all powerful speakers' bureau sub-committee - chaired by Bob Ryder & Jack Wartnick - tried desperately to get a prestigious & respected West High alum to make a few nostalgic comments tonight about our cherished post-pubescent years together. They tried for an honor student, a top athlete, a class officer with no success. Finally, they decided to settle for someone who from 1957 to 1960 had never had an impure thought.

That immediately narrowed it down to either Jane Probelski or me. But then Bob remembered that Jane had been a member of the West High Girls Dance Group which had worn those suggestive outfits. So, I now stand humbly before you.

When I was pondering whether to accept this role, I recalled what my dear old dad had told me as I entered West way back in 1957. Actually, he told me 2 things. The first was, "Son, a (fill-in whatever I'm wearing) shirt will never go out of style." The second was, "Son, I'm sorry…we really wanted to move to Edina but we couldn't afford it. Plus, we thought 'West' would be a whole lot easier for you to spell."

Bob & Jack also told me they only needed a few minutes of my time…since they'd already tricked Rick Passon into emceeing this event by telling him it was actually a lifetime achievement banquet in his honor. Their only request was that these comments be a serious tribute…this was no place for satire or humor of any kind which might denigrate our beloved West High spirit.

So, given your age and seeing that it's already after 9 pm, let me get started before you start to nod off. Bob and Jack insisted that I begin tonight's remarks with a positive comment about you all. So, let me begin by acknowledging how great you all look after 50 years…very impressive how well your acne has cleared up. Feel good about that.

We also want to extend a very special welcome tonight to the spouses & guest of West grads…thanks for being here. We'll do our best tonight to correct whatever glorified fabrications you've been given about your West High partner.

Most of us have lost our youthful idealism & exaggerated expectations of life…with the obvious exception of Maren Hinderlie. Looking back, I think Lily Tomlin put it best when she said, "I always wanted to be somebody, but I guess I should have been more specific."

But this is a time for looking back fondly. What do you remember most from those glory years?

How about West winning the District 17 Basketball title? A number of members are here: Ron Lyslo (all Dist. & Reg'l Teams), and highly talented Les Halverson & Dick Anfinson. Also, Dan Herrman, who played a vital off-the-bench role of helping draw girls to the games. That was such an exciting and proud time.

The other major sports highlight from those years was, of course, me finishing 15th in the 1960 District Cross Country meet. I would have done better for the old green & white, but had to run around those damned pesky autograph seekers. Not that I'm bitter, but I'm still not sure how Bob Sands missed reporting this achievement in his West High column, "Sands's Sports Shorts."

Speaking of Bob Sands, I've noticed this audience responded well when others at this podium tonight found a way to mention Bob. So, let me share the following Bob Sands story which just happened tonight. About halfway through this evening, Bob Sands approached me & said he was really getting weary of being pestered by girls who'd had a crush on him back in high school. Bob then asked if we could exchange name badges so that the girls would ignore him. Actually, from my perspective, that turned out to be a win-win situation.

Do you remember how much fun the dances were…at least for those of you tall enough not to get slapped for where you put your face during slow dances? Remember the Sock Hops, Kowpokes Kut-ups, Sadie Hawkins Days, Turnabout dances, Homecoming, the Prom.

Other social diversions included parties, drive-in movies, parties, the Calhoun drive-in with carhops, parties, ping pong on the 3rd floor of Mark & Marcia Anderson's, and, of course, parties.

And how about the gossip from 50 years ago? The West High Times was the TMZ of 1960. Here are a few tidbits:

" "John Field had a rip roaring party last week…and he plans to have many more."

" "Who is the lucky St Paul Centalite whose ring is being worn by Nola Rosenthal?"

" "Jr girls watch out - Jack Wartnick recently won free dancing lessons from an Arthur Murray telephone quiz" " "Who planned the Telekets' style show? Modeling for the Twin Sweater Dance at the sophomore tea were Lynn Alpert in brown and Rick Passon in gray. It seems that Lynne Alpert is very interested in St Paulites, aren't Mpls boys OK?"

" (BTW, what's a Teleket? Sounds like a tourniquet with a phone built in. And how does a Teleket differ from a Te-Agua?)

" "Notable couples" of 1958-60 highlighted Peg Lambert & Bob Odegard, Dianne Hermes & Pete Pudas, Jean Weldon & Buzzy Schardin, Bob Sands & Jean Curtiss, Carol Judd & Sheldon Quist, Sheri Deneson & some guy from Benilde, Karen Ebner & some cake-eater from Washburn, Sue Jensen & some guy from Jr Achievment (rumored to be 11 at the time), Jean Palmer & Bruce Aguilar, Jean Palmer & Art Iverson, Jean Palmer & the defensive line (just the starters).

And we were so proud of our academic achievers. 4 of our top 10 honor students are with us tonight. We really never gave them enough accolades at the time, so please stand as I read your names: Jane Kottke, Sylvia Strauman, Gale Struthers & Fran Lenth. Let's recognize them with a round of applause.

But, perhaps even more impressive, tonight we also have 8 of the bottom 10 here. Again, please stand as I read your names. We are all so very, very proud that you figured out the directions to get here tonight.

And, with a very special welcome tonight to our assistant principal, Howard Straighton, remember our administration leaders at West? I recall the culture shock when West's administration changed in our senior year from the affable, approachable, teen-friendly John Morris and Mr. Straighton to the new stern-faced, stand-offish principal, Frank Janes. Mr. Janes probably did great things bureaucratically, but apparently popped a hernia if ever tried to smile. Upper molar extractions had to be done by caesarean.

But, Mr. Janes did have a caring side. At our graduation ceremony, I'll never forget the personal, inspirational comments he made to me as I crossed the stage to receive my diploma. In fact, I kind of tear up just thinking about it. As he handed me my diploma, he looked me right in the eye and said, "Keep movin', c'mon keep movin'." The man spoke in metaphors and parables, so I'm still uncertain as to exactly what he meant. But I'll forever cherish that moment where we really connected one-on-one.

And the World has changed a lot since 1960, although you couldn't tell from some of the outfits I see tonight. Remember the fashions of our youth:

" Shorter pleated skirts…slightly shorter, but just enough to upset English teacher, Selma Blessin.

" Tunics, jumpers, and pedal pushers for girls, bold horizontal striped sweaters for boys

" Plaid Bermudas…bermudas with knee highs for girls

" Chemises for girls…chemises…chemice?

" Circle pins for girls, butch wax for boys with flat tops & crew cuts.

" Girls winter coats with fur collars, often raccoon…which even if it isn't politically correct today, is the best thing I can think of doing with a raccoon.

" And, for that outdoorsy tone in January, smear on a little Man Tan.

I know we're supposed to be celebrating our happy memories tonight, but frankly HS was not a particularly happy time for me. When you're 5'7" & wrestle unimpressively at 127 lbs, the dating pool is very limited…basically I looked for small girls with poor eyesight who lacked the coordination to walk in heels. And the pranks you used to pull on me: like did you notice I'm the only one whose senior picture in the Hesperian only shows from my forehead up? My poor mother never understood. I found myself taking some small pleasure in the little ways I was able to get you West High girls to respond to me. Like the mysterious way I could make Jean Weldon's or Darlene Auger's eyes roll involuntarily toward the ceiling just by asking for a dance.

Fortunately, a couple years after high school, Tony Annoni & his then-girlfriend lined me up on a blind date. I met my lovely wife, Karen, that night & it was absolutely love at first sight…although the lighting was poor. My being vertically challenged never bothered Karen. Remember the Dallas football player, Too-tall Jones? Karen affectionately called me Too-short Jackson. Started on our wedding night, as I recall.

Since those days some of you've gained a couple pounds, turned a bit grayer, and Sue Moody tells me now that fewer than 10 of you are still saving yourselves for Mr. or Ms. Right, which is exactly half the number Holly Morehouse reported at our last reunion. There was a lot to say for those days: 20 cent gas, no terrorists, we could eat white bread to build strong bodies 7 ways, & our lakes were clean. Zebra mussels & milfoil was an entrée I used to order at the Rainbow Café to impress a date. I liked my zebra mussels steamed in marinara sauce with milfoil au grautin.

And we could smoke with abandon. Track meet tomorrow, no problem. In an Iron Lung, no problem. Pregnant? Have a Camel with your martini. Even doctors preferred Kent cigarettes 3:1. Smoking was so cool that it was almost required in social situations & was fine anywhere in the restaurant or airplane you sat. Then we decided smoking was bad for us - but 2nd hand smoke was still OK - so we created smoking sections…which always struck me like swimming pools creating whizzing sections. "Sorry, Mr. Passon, but we'll have to ask you to swim over to the other side of the orange buoy with the half-moon on it."

Now you can marry a farm animal in some states, but you can no longer smoke in airplanes, restaurants, bars, or even during most elective surgeries.

But no denying the progress either: we've put a man on the moon, torn down the Berlin Wall, and invented call waiting which allows us to carry on two simultaneous cell phone conversations while driving & flossing our teeth. And, sadly, West High closed in 1982 and was demolished in 1984. A senior apartment building, zero maintenance townhomes, and a Y were built on the school's site. Sounds to me like this crowd would still fit on that hallowed ground just fine. All we'd need would be shuffleboard court and a good proctologist & we'd be set for the next 25 years.

So, that brings us to today. And, as we all approach the big "7-0," I find myself increasingly recalling the words of Andy Rooney:

"I think the life cycle is all backwards. Let's die first, get it out of the way. Then live in an old age home. Get kicked out because you're too young, get a gold watch and go to work. Work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy retirement. Do drugs, alcohol, party, get ready for high school. Go to grade school, become a kid, play, have no responsibilities. Become a little baby, and go back into the womb, spend the last nine months floating, and finish off as an orgasm."

So…To all of you here tonight, to all who couldn't be, and especially to those cherished West High good friends and spouses who've gone before us, thank you for all the memories we made together and for being so special then and still.

God bless.

To remind everyone how much things had changed
- for the better or worse -
Rick read the following article from
Housekeeping Monthly, 13 May 1955,
on Good Housekeeping.

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospecte of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.
  • Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc and then run a dust cloth over the tables.
  • Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  • Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would lke to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washing, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.
  • Be happy to see him.
  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please.
  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important then yours.
  • Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.
  • Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
  • Don't greet him with complaints or problems.
  • Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.
  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master oif th house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. He have no right to question him.
  • A good wife always knows her place.

[Editor exercising "literary license"]

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