The Greatest Stories Never Told
(as best as we can remember them)
Join the four of us, Marc and Darlene Glaze Jennings, Tom Kender and Ed Stout as we remember our years at Fairview High School in Dayton, Ohio in the 60's. We'll share our stories and we want to hear yours as well.
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By Marc Jennings
1848 was a very bad year in Europe. In that year there were violent political upheavals that swept across the continent. The revolutions of 1848 resulted in, among other things, the emigration of thousands of Germans to the United States, many of whom settled in Dayton and Cincinnati. These Germans, referred to as Dutchmen by Americans whose ancestors had settled in the country one or two centuries before, were primarily Catholic and were industrious. Their descendents played an important part in the growth of Dayton. Many of them became teachers in the Dayton Public Schools.
My story begins in September, 1962 when I selected German as the foreign language I was to study. I made this selection based on someone’s recommendation of German being important if you planned to do something—which I have now forgotten. Freshman year of high school was when I became aware of the pressure to have a plan for your life. You had to have a plan because that was how you were supposed to choose which courses you took. If you planned to become a doctor, then you would take courses that were important for doctors to know, like chemistry and biology. Of course, first you had to know if you were going to college. If so, you were "college prep." I think most everybody at FHS was college prep, otherwise your classes were mostly in "brain lane."
There were a lot of flaws in this system of attending high school. First and foremost, only about 2 of 360 people had any idea what they would do in life, and those two were wrong. I know I didn’t have the slightest clue. In fact, I didn’t know what the choices were. Someone at the time told me the average Psychologist made $13,500 a year, which sounded like a huge amount of money. My only question was: what’s a Psychologist? Second, I have, in fact, spent my career in an industry that did not exist in 1962. I would have needed one heck of a crystal ball to make my course selections. As it was, I guess I just took my best shot when I needed to choose a class based on what I was thinking that day.
So I sat in German I across the aisle from my new friend, Scott Kelso. I don’t remember how I met Scott, but I liked him. There was something different about the way Scott looked at ordinary things. German class was a good example. Our German I class was taught by Mrs. Plaut, however, on the first day of class she told us to call her Frau Plaut. And, everyone in the class got a German name issued to them. Frau Plaut went around the class like John Belushi in Animal House, saying "your German name is—Dieter". I was Klaus Jennings (pronounced "Yennings"), and Scott was Gustav Kelso. I remember most of the names given to us in class because of Scott. Had it been up to me, I would not have taken the German name thing seriously and would have forgotten it as soon as I walked out of class. But, somehow taking a German name excited Scott’s imagination. It was a big deal to him and he adopted it not only outside class but for the next four years. I don’t think he ever called me anything but Klaus.
The following year, Scott and I found ourselves together in German II. Our teacher was Herr Paloney. Herr Paloney was not quite as gentle as Frau Plaut had been. When he caught Scott and me discussing matters other than German, which was often, he would say, "You must vork, dun’t talk". Of course, outside of class, instead of actually practicing speaking in real German, we spoke in fake German accents like Sgt. Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes. Scott attempted to give other friends German names before we really knew the language. That’s how Dave Todd became Da D. Todd. Da was Scott’s idea of a German word at the time. It didn’t matter if it was not a real word, to Scott it was and to this day Dave Todd is Da D.
It is a struggle for me to accurately describe Scott and the unique influence he had on the lives of our circle of friends at FHS. In a way, it was like he was dropped into Fairview from another planet, instead of Cornell Heights Elementary, and was seeing everything for the first time. Something would catch his fascination and he would just talk about it constantly, yet in a way that didn’t irritate everyone. Scott projected innocence and genuine wonder at simple things that I would ordinarily take for granted. But his fascination was so persistent that you would find yourself eventually drawn in to the way he looked at things.
Scott was well liked by everyone who knew him. He engaged people with an unusual curiosity. It would focus on unexpected things. We could be sitting in class waiting for a big test to be passed out, and Scott might ask me what brand of shoe polish I thought Herr Paloney uses, or how much weight did I think could be put on our desks before they were crushed, that sort of thing.
It would be inaccurate to say that Scott had no tact. It’s just that he could be disarmingly direct. We could be in a social situation in which something was obvious (like you have lettuce in your teeth), but no one mentioned it so as to avoid embarrassment to anyone. But Scott would be curious about it and go right up and start talking about it to the person who might be embarrassed. But here’s the thing, Scott had a way about him; people looked in his eyes and presto, they knew he meant no malice or harm, and was genuinely interested. He could say almost anything to anyone.
The Beach Boys released a song in May of 1964 called "I Get Around". One of the lines of this Brian Wilson song was "I’m a real cool head; I’m making real good bread". Scott repeated the term cool head until the rest of us had to adopt it. Someone was either a cool head (meaning cool), or they were a squirrel (meaning squirrel). I’m not sure where Scott came up with the term squirrel, but it seemed to be appropriate. For example, if one of your friends squealed his tires leaving Parkmoor, he was cool. If someone from Fairmont West did the same thing, he was a squirrel (in fact, only squirrels attended Fairmont West). However, once Scott fixed on something it would inevitably spread to all our friends at Fairview and Colonel White. And "cool head" was one of those things.
Scott did not play football, basketball or baseball, but he was a gymnast, and a good one. Fairview was starting a Gymnastics team our sophomore year (I think it was), and Scott was on the team. "Team" is way too inflated a term for the pitiful collection of aspiring gymnasts with no uniforms and no depth of talent. Everyone was learning various gymnastic events for the first time, with nothing to help but the skill and patience of Coach Eugene Winters, may he rest in peace. This was before Olga Korbut or Nadia Comaneci, and the rest of the "flibety-gibets", as Darlene calls them, so gymnastics was definitely not a glamour sport. I don’t think the team had any "meets", as gymnastic competitions are called, that year.
So in German II, Scott would regale me with tales of gymnastic strength and agility. There were also girls in skimpy little tights. Week after week he talked about gymnastics. Out of school Scott was constantly doing handstands. "Watch this handstand." At first it was up and back down but before long he was walking on his hands across the room, and I was doing handstands too. We even began to lift weights, although that was short-lived. Eventually, Scott took me to talk to Coach Winters and we all agreed that I would start gymnastics the next year. I didn’t even realize that Scott was in charge of my life.
The following September, I found I had a problem. I had signed up for German III and gymnastics, and they were both only offered sixth period. No problem: I changed to French I. Maybe I would get a French name. Unfortunately, for such a change, with so much of my life invested in German, I had to discuss this serious matter with Mr. Norman Feuer. In our meeting I assured him of my new-found respect and love for all things French, and that I would graduate with "dual languages". Of course, Mr. Feuer apparently wrote his Master’s Thesis on high school BS, so he got right to the point. "You’re doing this to be in gymnastics, right?" "Uh, yes sir." "You’re making a big mistake, but I’m going to let you do it." A scribbled name on a slip of paper and my life was rearranged.
In this case, the study of foreign languages meant nothing in my later life-less than nothing. I wasn’t good at it and didn’t like it—and I tried them all: German, French and Spanish. (Although I took two years of high school French, I once found myself in Cannes, France unable to ask someone even what time it was.) On the other hand, Gymnastics proved to be a very important and very valuable part of my life that I will always recall with pride and fondness. So I thank Mr. Feuer for his indulgence and signature.
Our junior year I participated in two events, Horizontal Bar and Still Rings. Normally we would have two, sometimes three people compete in the same event, but if one competitor was weak it would bring down the composite score of the team. Scott participated in both events also. Scott was Captain of the gymnastics team that year and was by far the best gymnast we had. One reason for this was that Scott listened very carefully and took instruction better than anyone I ever knew. That year, our team had a respectable season. We still didn’t have uniforms but we won some meets and discovered we had some blossoming talent.
By senior year our Fairview team was a gymnastics powerhouse in the state of Ohio, although many in the student body seemed unaware of the fact. We finally had some uniforms and I was proud to be Captain of the team. Normally a gymnastics team would have seven or eight meets a year. In 65-66 we had 23 meets, lost none and tied one. Then came the State meet on the campus of Ohio State. I will save some of this for another story, but at the end of the meet Fairview had a state champion on the Still Rings and his name was Scott Kelso. By then I had become the number one person on Rings, but I fell on my dismount and placed fourth. Scott executed a flawless routine and deserved the gold medal. Even though disappointed in my performance, I was happy for Scott and I would rather have that fourth place ribbon than be able to speak German.
As far as I remember Scott didn’t seem to be as obsessed with girls as some of us were. At one point I recall his attention did focus on a girl a year younger than us by the name of Linda Dudas. Scott was forever saying Linda Dudis-Dudat. I don’t think the relationship lasted beyond a few dates. However, our Junior year Scott was elected Junior attendant at the May Day celebration. The female Junior attendant was Linda Cremeens. That was it. Cupid hit Scott with about 3500 arrows and he and Linda are still married today. On the other hand, Scott didn’t think Darlene and I would be a good couple. He had all sorts of reasons that I should forget about her, some of which I recently disclosed to Darlene. But this was one matter I refused to be influenced on by Scott.
I have written about our pool playing in high school. It was really Scott that influenced us to play pool more or less seriously. I don’t know what came first, Scott seeing the movie "The Hustler" with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason, or getting a pool table in his basement. Whichever it was, Scott was the force that made pool playing an obsession for us like it was for him. Because of him, I will always remember certain lines of dialogue from the movie: "JTS Brown, no glass, no ice."
I played in some bands in high school (another story). The members of the band shopped downtown for "unique" clothes that we could wear when we played. This included some cheap black leather shoes with pointed toes from Flagg Brothers. When Scott saw my shoes he called them "grease boots", and decided he had to have some. Naturally, he talked about them for weeks until almost everyone had a pair. We never went to a dance without our grease boots on.
I never thought of Scott as a leader, just a friend. But as a result of his boundless enthusiasm for a particular thing or person, he had a profound influence on all those around him. As I think back on the stuff we used to do and say and wear and think as a group of friends at FHS, Scott was the inspiration for most of it. If my memory wasn’t so faded, I could go on for days.
Scott went to Ohio State and later to the United Theological Seminary (on whose grounds we AXE brothers had occasionally drunk a few quarts of beer in FHS days). He spent a career as a Methodist minister at a nice church in Pickerington, Ohio, near Columbus. I’ll bet his congregation valued his spiritual leadership as much as I valued his friendship. Scott was a cool head.
Another Alpha Chi Adventure
By Marc Jennings
My friend Bob Petrey and I were discussing what our next adventure would be one day in 1965 when Mike Overly, overhearing our conversation said, "why don’t we go down to the Cincinnati Jazz festival at Crosley Field, I can get tickets." We figured that sounded like a pretty good idea. "Let’s get Lance Yamasaki to go too, he likes jazz." Lance, in addition to liking jazz, had a British Racing Green Mustang convertible which would provide us with the style in which we were accustomed to traveling.
So, on the appointed Saturday, we four set off down I-75 for the Queen City and lots of excitement. It was Lance and Mike in front and Petrey and me in the back, plus a bunch of beer in the trunk. As I recall, Lance was a pretty sensible driver; I remember a Roadway Express semi passing us. Riding in the back seat with the top down it was hard to judge our speed. Plus, Petrey kept up a non-stop comedy routine that had me in hysterics. He had a funny comment for just about everything we saw.
In no time we pulled off I-75 and onto Central Parkway, just north of downtown Cincinnati. We drove a few blocks until we came to a Travelodge motel where we had reservations for the night. Since the Jazz Festival lasted quite late, our plan was to come back to the motel, drink and raise hell, rather than driving home late at night. It was a good plan and a good excuse to drink and stay out as late as we wanted.
That settled, we were faced with the question of what to do in Cincinnati on a Saturday afternoon. A couple of exits before we got off I-75 someone noticed a sign for the Cincinnati Zoo. "Hey, let’s go to the zoo." All of us agreed that would be a great thing to do, even though I can’t imagine how we thought that would be fun. Anyway, we piled into the car and headed back north. We got off at the Mitchell Street exit and after a short distance turned right on Vine Street, going a few miles till we reached the zoo.
Pulling into the zoo parking lot we encountered our first unplanned obstacle—you had to pay to park your car. So we were all sitting there in the car with the top down digging in our pockets for money. After paying, we pulled into the crowded parking lot and began looking for a space to park. We didn’t see any. Meanwhile, some parking lot employee, a young guy, starts giving us a hard time, you know: "move it along, park it somewhere," that sort of thing like he owned the place. Fortunately Petrey was not intimidated by this parking lot superintendent: "hey, do you work here or live here?" We thought this was hilarious and were all laughing as Lance finally found us a spot.
Our next discovery was that you can’t just walk into the zoo. You have to pay for that too. This was beginning to dampen our enthusiasm, but we paid and went in. The truth is we should have stayed at the motel and got bombed. None of us got too excited about looking at a bunch of animals sleeping in their cages. Plus, there weren’t any girls at the zoo. Somebody should have thought of that.
We wandered aimlessly around the zoo until I guess we figured we had our money’s worth then headed for the car and got the heck out of there. By the time we reached the motel it was time to get ready for the Jazz Festival. Of course, we didn’t change or anything like that, just went in the clothes we had on. When we got to Crosley Field and took our seats, we saw that the Cincinnati Jazz Festival was a big deal. I mean there were some people coming into the place dressed for like a royal coronation. They had some fine looking garments, if you can picture that, and the outfits were mighty colorful. This was the first time I ever saw a black man and white woman together. It was pretty shocking in 1965.
After it started to get dark the bands began to play down on the field. It was about then that I discovered that I didn’t really care much for jazz music. It wasn’t like watching Jerry Lee Lewis or James Brown and his Famous Flames. Besides Ramsey Lewis, I couldn’t tell you what other groups performed. But, it was an experience, and we were out of our home town, having an adventure with the whole night in front of us.
Well, the truth is the Jazz Festival lasted a long time. Then it took a long time to get out of the parking lot and back to the motel. By the time we got back it was pretty darn late, but we had some drinking to do and the late hour was not going to stop us. We even hit the little pool in the parking lot and did a few cannon balls and yucked it up. After a while it hit me—I don’t know, maybe I was tired—we could have had this much fun at home. I didn’t say anything, but a Saturday night without stopping at Goody’s or Parkmoor to see who was there; you know, it was all about our friends, not so much going places.
We felt great the next morning—not. It was a quiet group that headed north on I-75 Sunday. I remember thinking that I have attended my last Jazz Festival and wondering what excitement I missed back in the Big D. A couple of years later as a student at the University of Cincinnati one of my fraternity brothers was Bob Robbins, who went to Chaminade but lived off N. Main St. near Pappy’s Kitchen. He and I always referred to the Big D. We talked about it like it was Las Vegas, you know, wild times, non-stop. We had all the Cincinnati guys and the yokels from Indiana and West Virginia in the Beta house completely believing it. They always wanted us to take them to the Big D for a good time.
Our trip to the Cincinnati Jazz Festival served as a reminder that all the things that meant the most to me were back home in the Big D. They weren’t places they were people; they were the people I cared about and who I wanted to care about me. I am delighted to have found some of those people again. We can’t meet up at Parkmoor these days, but we can share the great experiences we had together many years ago—and we don’t even have to pay for gas.
Mississippi Delta to Fair Valley
By Marc Jennings
Every year as our FHS classes drew to a close in June we were excited by feelings of joy and relief best described by the lines from the song, School is Out by Gary US Bonds:
No more books and studies
And I can stay out late with my buddies
I can do the things that I want to do
‘Cause all my exams are through
But after a few days or a week or two of freedom, we had to face the reality that summer was going to require some work. Most of my friends began summer jobs or began looking for one, and I think we all sort of knew we were expected to work, or at least try to find a job. I also think we were pretty lucky because most seemed to find summer jobs of some kind.
There were a range of jobs that you might have in the summer. Most of us had some sort of menial job, often working for the City of Dayton, like picking up trash in city parks as I did one summer. A few people were very fortunate to work in one of the many factories or shops thriving in Dayton at that time; fortunate, because the pay was good. But the all time "home run" of a job for guys was working in "construction". Working in construction was good for several reasons. You worked in the daytime, you got off at a decent hour, you got a tan, you got to build up your muscles (which was important for guys), and the pay was good. Plus, if you worked construction, you were automatically considered tougher than you were in school. "Don’t mess with him, he works construction." The bad thing was; it was pretty rare to find a construction job.
At the end of our junior year, 1965, I learned that my uncle was working as a contractor for Litton Industries, at that time a company with defense contracts. And, in fact, he was working on a "construction" job near Greenville, Mississippi. Well, I pulled some family strings to see what my chances would be of joining his crew on this job. "Sure, come on down, we can put you to work," was the answer. I thought, hey this is really great, and then I thought, wait, just exactly where is Greenville, Mississippi? After consulting a map of the United States it became clear to me that I would not be cruising Parkmoor in the evenings when I got off work. The smart thing would have been to back out then and there, but I had committed to my uncle and it did not seem right to quit before I started.
Having gone this far, the next question was how to get to Mississippi. I didn’t have a car and if I had it would never have made it that far. The obvious answer was I was going to ride a Greyhound Bus from Dayton to Greenville, a trip of about 700 miles. At this point I really should have called it off, but I didn’t. I don’t know if I was stupid, ignorant of the likely reality, or just stubborn; probably all three.
I don’t remember going to the bus station downtown, and I don’t remember climbing on that first bus, and the trip itself was sort of a painful blur. One thing I do remember was changing buses at the bus station in Memphis. This was 1965 and there were a lot of young people from the north coming to the Deep South to register voters, demonstrate and sometimes get shot and buried in a swamp. The people of the south were not too happy about it all. I recall walking into the restroom in the Memphis bus station and recoiling at the graffiti. There wasn’t just hate in all the stuff written everywhere, there was violence. There was so much it seemed to me that the graffiti was being left there on purpose. It was unsettling, as though something was boiling just under the surface.
I eventually arrived in Greenville and my aunt picked me up at the bus station. She took me to a small house on a quiet street where I would be staying. I would stay in a room rented from the lady who owned the house, although I never saw her; just a room with a bed in it. Gee, I had quit having fun just outside the Dayton city limits.
We started work every day at 7:00 AM, but before this we would go to a little diner for breakfast. No matter what you ordered it came with grits. I am a southerner by birth but I had never seen grits before and to me, they were sort of nauseating just sitting there on the plate. I always left them.
The work site was in the middle of nowhere, Mississippi. We were installing missile tracking antennas. Well, we actually installed metal supports that would eventually hold the antennas. There was a line of them, about two feet apart that stretched over a mile in a straight line. We would dig a hole, mix cement and pour it into the hole with a steel rod in it. That was it. All I remember is lugging wheelbarrow’s full of cement all day long. Occasionally there would be a semi trailer full of bags of cement that had to be unloaded. It was hot inside the trailer and all the cement dust would choke you. And the cement bags weighed like a million pounds each. I don’t think OSHA had been invented yet so it wasn’t very healthy.
You may not be familiar with regional weather patterns but in the Mississippi Delta, in the summertime, it’s pretty dang hot. We worked with our shirts off so we had no problem getting that tan I was counting on. But the heat and humidity were tough, even if you were a 17 year-old boy, like me. Two of my co-workers were students at Ole Miss, in Oxford, and they were pretty good guys. We had a few laughs from time to time, but mostly we just sweated and worked till we dropped at the end of the day. After a few weeks, we began starting work at 6:00 AM to miss some of the heat of the day. I don’t think I ever noticed the difference except it was harder to stare at those grits an hour earlier in the morning.
Greenville, Mississippi is not exactly a party town and I never did anything after work. I would eat dinner at the same little diner and go back to my room and read James Bond novels. I did go to the drive in one Friday night but it was too hot to sit in the car and I was too tired to really enjoy the movie, which was "In Harm’s Way", a WWII black and white movie starring John Wayne. My existence was very simple and I think I would have been miserable had I not been so tired. I often thought about home and my friends, how much fun they must be having.
One day, my uncle told me he was planning to travel to my grandfather’s farm in Virginia over the weekend. I made a quick and simple decision. I asked him if he would mind if I rode along and didn’t come back. He understood and accepted my resignation. That Friday after work I showered, packed my bag, jumped in the car and kissed Greenville, Mississippi good-bye. We drove all night and arrived in Blackwater, Virginia (just up the road from Bristol) early Saturday morning. My uncle paid me in cash—none of that pesky withholding—and my wallet was full.
I had called my mother to ask if she could pick me up in Virginia, and she agreed. So in a few days, I was rolling back into Dayton, home sweet home. Back at home, I did all the chores I could. The summer was better than half over and there seemed little point in trying to find another job. But the week I arrived I learned there was to be an Open House Friday at Fair Valley Swim Club on Brantford Rd., off Frederick Pike. I was rested, tanned, had some money and there was no way I was going to miss this.
At our age our memory has faded. There are many things that we don’t recall, or that we only remember vaguely. On the other hand there are still a few scenes from our past about which we retain a vivid memory. The Open House at Fair Valley was, for me, one of those scenes. Contrasted as it was with my recent hard labor in the stifling heat and humidity of the Mississippi Delta, where I knew no one and had nothing but a weary and solitary existence; the warm, dry and balmy summer evening at Fair Valley, with a gentle breeze moving through the surrounding woods, the underwater lights sparkling in the blue pool water, music—my music—playing loud, and best of all, my friends who noticed my deep tan and were eager to hear of my recent adventures in Dixie, all combined to grant me a powerful sense of contentment and love for my classmates and our little Fairview world.
I was privileged that night to see and understand and really feel how wonderful our lives and circumstances were. Like Dorothy returning to Kansas, I had experienced longing for the people and places I loved, and now I appreciated what they meant to me. I’ll bet some of you were there that night, and if I happened to come up to you and say I was glad to see you—I meant it.
By Marc Jennings
We used to play baseball—all the time. As boys growing up, once we had a glove we would take it everywhere with us. You could never tell where you would find a game and you had to be ready. In the summer we would play in the morning as soon as we got up and had something for breakfast, until it was too dark to see the ball. Sometimes we would spend weeks playing whiffle-ball home run derby. Baseball, baseball cards, Little League, the Reds, walking down the street in summer listening to Waite Hoyt call the game on radios in almost every home you passed. Boyhood and baseball, how could they be separated? There needs to be a story just about baseball. But this one is about basketball.
As we got older, like the fifth and sixth grade, we started playing basketball more. In the seventh grade there was a school team, so somehow I guess that made us begin to get interested in that game. It was baseball in the summer and basketball in the fall and winter.
I played on the Gettysburg Elementary seventh grade team. But they had built a new Elementary school, Hickorydale, and our two best players went there: Mike Pratt and Ronnie Schultz. Our team wasn’t that good and I was no star, but it was fun and exciting. To be on the court in the gymnasium and to score a field goal, and hear the roar of your classmates in that noisy place; that was something. Of course, you could also turn over the ball, or miss a foul shot or have the coach yell at you, and that was something too. The game was a see-saw of action, good and bad; it was intoxicating in a way.
We had one kid, Kenny, on our seventh grade team who was what we would describe now as a special needs student. I don’t remember him ever saying anything, or ever playing in a game for that matter, but he was on the team. We had a big game one afternoon with our rival, Hickorydale, and the team was in the locker room suiting up. As we went upstairs to the gym, Kenny and I were the last ones to come through the door into the gym. I happened to look back at Kenny and noticed two things: first, that he apparently forgot to put on his athletic supporter, and second that he had an erection that extended below the bottom of his uniform shorts. I tapped him on the shoulder, said “Kenny”, and pointed at the wardrobe malfunction. Kenny got the message and quickly retreated back through the doors to return later in a proper state for an athletic event. Who knows, if I had just ignored Kenny, maybe we would have stood a better chance in the game. As it was we got a pretty bad “whuppin”.
I was on the eighth grade team at Fairview Elementary. I guess you could say I was the sixth man. I got to play quite a bit, but we had some talented players like Rick McCune and John Pichler. I enjoyed going to other schools to play. You would always see something interesting or have an experience worth remembering. One afternoon our team went to Cornell Heights to play their team. I didn’t know any of these people then but many of them would become my closest friends. During the game I was playing guard and bringing the ball down court. From out of nowhere comes Steve Gershow coming straight at me to make an attempt to steal the ball. Well, let’s just say Steve didn’t execute the steal with a lot of precision or a display of defensive skill. In fact, he just smashed into me and sent me, him and the ball all flying in different directions.
We had a very old gymnasium at Fairview. It kind of looked like the one in “Hoosiers.” All the members of the team were eligible to win an award if they made ten foul shots in a row. I happened to achieve this milestone and was presented with a little gold basketball that had a ring on it that seemed to be made for hanging on a chain. Of course guys didn’t do that so I gave mine to Nancy Marker. I only had it in my possession about a day so I think a little trophy or plaque would have been better.
We loved the UD Flyers at our house. My Dad would watch every game that was on TV. He made up a complex score sheet on which he could record every field goal, foul shot, and foul that each Dayton player made. My younger brother David and I would have some popcorn and a bottle of Pepsi on these ritual evenings. No opponent was loathed more than the evil Bearcats of Cincinnati. Boy, we really wanted the Flyers to win those games. I think, in my years, UC got the better of us, especially while Oscar Robertson played for Cincinnati. But UD seemed to own the N.I.T. I think they went to this end of season tournament every year, and won the championship some years.
At the end of 1979, I was transferred from Orlando to Northern KY (that part of Cincinnati just south of the Ohio River) to build a cable system there. Until we moved, I flew home every two weeks. The company I worked for had a policy of first class travel so I flew first class everywhere. One Friday I was sitting in my first class seat on a Delta Jet at the Cincinnati airport. I was having a cup of coffee, waiting for the flight to leave for Atlanta where I would connect to Orlando. The last passengers were coming aboard when a very tall black man stepped through the door. He had on a long leather coat which I took to be rather inappropriate for first class travel— I had become a bit snobbish. To my disappointment, the flight attendant took his coat and pointed in my direction. Oh no, I thought, this person is going to interrupt my serenity on the flight. You have probably guessed by now that my seat-mate was none other than the big ‘O’, Oscar Robertson. He was going to Charlotte to broadcast a game there. He was really, really nice, a true gentleman, and I got to tell him how much I hated it when Cincinnati beat my Flyers.
One year I played basketball in a Saturday morning league at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. It was for kids of NCR employees and was a pretty loosely organized affair. But many times after our game, the Flyers freshman team would play sort of an exhibition game. This year, the freshman team had two very exciting players, Roger Brown and Bill Chimalewski. These two guys were incredibly talented. Roger Brown about 6’6’’ and Bill Chimalewski 6’10”. After we dressed we sat right down at courtside and watched in awe. Fans of UD were in euphoria thinking about the powerhouse Dayton would be the following year. As it turned out, these two potential stars did not fulfill their promise but it might have been so great.
At FHS, I did not make the basketball team. I found another sport at which I seemed to be talented. But that did not stop me or my friends from playing basketball all the time. Especially our freshman and sophomore years we played a lot. In the late fall and through the winter, unless the courts were covered in more than three inches of snow we played. I lived not too far away from College Hill Park. This was on Harvard between Shaftsbury and Kensington. I had a few Little League practices there, but I played pick-up basketball there often. One cold winter weekend day it was just me and Charlie Northcutt on the court playing one on one. In fact, we were the only ones at the park. It was so cold that the ball would hardly bounce, but that made little difference to us. I knew who Charlie was but to him I was a kid and he paid little attention, until I blocked one of his shots! Of course this got my competitive blood up and I wanted more. He looked at me with what I would call amused contempt. He said, “If you think you’re going to do that again you are mistaken”, or words to that effect. I was playing a bit above my talent level that day, but Charlie stepped up the game and gave me a lesson. We had a good time.
In FHS years we played a lot at Steve Cruea’s house. We played at Bill Kistner’s house. We played at many half-courts all over Upper Dayton View where the goal was attached to someone’s garage. Over the years we broke stuff, we ran into things and hurt ourselves or someone else, but we loved to play and shoot the breeze. There was nothing like being on a court in the cool fall air, bent over, hands on hips, sweating, breathing hard at the end of a game, spitting—not a care in the world, telling your buddies “let’s play one more”.
Fairview had good basketball teams that we students could take pride in. They won a lot, but win or lose they gave everything they had. An FHS basketball game was a great event to go to. In the eighth grade we were invited to some event at FHS so we could get to know the place. The evening began with a basketball game and then I suppose other activities were planned, maybe in the Cola Cottage. But we never got to those activities because there was a severe ice storm and power was knocked out in the middle of the game. Everyone made it home as best they could.
My next FHS basketball game my freshman year I made the mistake of chugging a fifth of Lawrence Screwdriver with Dave Todd right before the game. Details of that adventure can be found in another story, and unfortunately I had to leave the game before it was over. The good news was that I served no time in BIS (Boys Industrial School) for my crimes that night.
Gee, we had some great games. I remember one in which FHS played the mighty Belmont team with Don May and Bill Hoskins—and we came so close to winning! It would have been a miracle upset against that eventual state champion team. Another game was a heartbreaker at UD, I think. It was, I think, the Dayton HS finals and we lost as a result of a last minute miss of a free throw. But do you remember cheering and screaming in that hot, crowded gym?
You probably remember these games better than I do and come to think of it, I’m glad I didn’t play because it was so much fun to go to the games. Once in a while I actually had a date, which was rare for me because I was waiting for Darlene to realize she couldn’t live without me. I don’t remember how it happened but once I took Diana Recker to a game that, I don’t know, I guess Mike Pratt was playing in or he was playing somewhere else and Diana wanted to go to this game so I was probably deemed to be harmless enough to escort her. I was always doing dumb stuff like that which made little sense.
Sometimes it seemed to me that Dayton was the center of the basketball universe. We had great Dayton teams with great players and great college teams close by. Who could ever forget the NCAA championship teams at Ohio State with Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Bobby Knight and the UC teams with the Big O and their later back to back NCAA championships, and the 1966 NCAA finals between Kentucky and Texas Western? Whether as a player or spectator and fan, basketball gave us some wonderful times and helped to bring us all together as classmates
The Older Girls
"We wished only for a smile"
By Tom Kender
Buckled knees, quivering lips and shades of red covering our faces.....that's how we would describe ourselves later after school as we would drink cokes at Dave Todd's that Marc so eloquently described in his earlier story, Dave Todd's Basement. Whenever we had a chance meeting with one of the gorgeous older girls at Fairview High School we would retell it for hours, each time embellishing it even more, while each member of the group sat entranced..
Among the many great attributes we had at Fairview, were the most beautiful girls that could ever grace a campus.... sure, as underclassmen we thought any older girl that paid us the least bit of attention was spectacular and though we were one or two years younger, we dreamed and talked of them incessantly....wondering if we would ever catch a smile let alone turn their head.
I was fortunate, my older brother Rick 63', quite handsome himself, yes, it's a family gene!, was always bringing the older girls to the house and I found a way or a chance to be introduced. I always made a great first impression.....I didn't blush, I smiled my dimple-smile and would look straight into their eyes......and then minutes later rush into the bathroom and nearly pass out from the pure exhilaration. But it gave me a little confidence the next day as I walked past these women in the hallways and smiled, waiting to be recognized. And I was! ... but it was always ..."There's Ricky's little brother"...... gosh ....well at least they knew who I was.
It was forbidden, an unwritten taboo, for any of the older girls to even consider dating a younger boy. Of course we dreamed they wanted to and would plan the evenings in our minds and as I have learned recently...ha...our dreams were in fact realities, they did want to date us ...but it just didn't happen.
One of the "untouchables" as we liked to refer to them as, was a beautiful blonde, tall, blue eyes, a pixie-like smile, who would cause us to melt in our tracks. Susi Sower .. .Susi...the younger guys and I'm sure many of those in your class dreamed of just receiving a quick glance, heck anything...just so we could proudly exclaim after school "Susi Sower loves me...she smiled right at me...I think we're gonna get married"
Not only was Susi gorgeous, but she was friendly, popular, occasionally mischievous and her statuesque body proved such an asset that she modeled during her senior year at Fairview and for many years later. Seeing pictures of Susi today, I can attest to the fact, she's as beautiful now as she was when she floated thru the hallways, since the floor was unworthy to have such a goddess touch the tiles...., Geesh, I know...I know I sound like I'm still an underclassman but..... some things never change.
Recently the Gang of Four, Marc, Darlene, Ed and myself, expanded and we continue to grow as we seek out additional writers to add the stories, the memories, the untold dreams we had at Fairview.
Fortunately, Susi, is now part of this group...I still haven't met her after all of these years, nor have I seen or met most of the others in over forty years ..If ever a chance meeting took place I'm not sure if my knees will buckle, or my lips will quiver or face will blush...but I know I will hold her high on a pedestal as many of us did and dream of those days at Fairview thinking of the older girls ....Next up. Nancy Kemp 65' and The girls of 66'
Birthday AdventureMarc & Darlene Jennings
(Click on the title for the entire story and some great pictures)
“WILLOUGHBY, NEXT STOP IS WILLOUGHBY”
By Ed Stout
This isn’t about Dayton, but it takes place about seventeen miles to the north, in the small village of West Milton, Ohio. The title comes from one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes: “A Stop at Willoughby.” That show was about a modern advertising executive who worked in Manhattan but lived in Connecticut. His work was filled with stress and his home life was no better. He fell asleep on the commuter train and he awoke in a dreamlike state. The train had stopped in an idyllic turn of the century village called Willoughby. People there beckoned him to get off but he didn’t. When he awoke, his life was still the same intolerable mess. The next day on the train … well, I won’t spoil the plot in case you haven’t seen this little black and white gem. Suffice it is to say that I view the small Ohio village where I once lived in the same light as that passenger viewed Willoughby. ......Click here to continue reading
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By Darlene Glaze Jennings
When growing up, the two biggest things in our young lives were going to school and summer vacation. We could not wait for that first day, and we could not wait for that last day. We always got out sometime around the first week of June, and went back in the first week of September. I can still remember getting our school books and writing the date in them; maybe September 8, and looking to see who had the books before me. In grade school at Loos, the last day was a couple of long hours in the morning. I took my younger brother Lloyd with me. He was five years younger, so this was a thrill for me, especially in my younger years—to take him and “show him off”—he was so cute!
The days of summer would begin with such excitement and anticipation; it seemed we would have forever to do whatever we wanted. In the late 50’s and early 60’s childhood was a lot different than now. Most of us had the run of the whole neighborhood and beyond......Click here to continue reading
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Music Part II: Concerts
By Marc Jennings
As a teenager I was interested in all kinds of music, but I loved rock and roll. One day during the summer before eighth grade I was looking at record albums downtown, at Mayors, when I saw “Little Richard’s Greatest Hits”, and bought it. I played this album for hours at a time. It was so raw, so wild; the beat, the saxophones, the pounding piano, Little Richard crying, “Lucille, please come back where you belong”, or “Good Golly, Miss Molly, sure like to ball, when you’re rockin’ and rollin’, can’t hear your mama call”. I knew every word and note of these songs. I wished I could dance to them. I wished I could perform them. I wished I could see Little Richard sing them in person......Click here to continue reading
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By Tom Kender
I'm thinking I should have entitled this "Most
Memorable Teachers" but we'll leave it like this.
Naturally, we all had our favorites but I can easily decide which teachers made an impact on me. I don't know if it was necessarily because I enjoyed the subject matter more or if it was the way they presented the material, all I know when I think of Fairview and the faculty I think of these people first.......Click here to continue reading
If you would like to leave a comment about Tom's Stories, please go to our "Comments Page"
This site is funded thru a grant provided by Tommy Boy Inc.
For a great trip down memory lane, here are some of our stories......Enjoy
Buzz Me, Willard!
By Marc Jennings
Gettin’ Outta First
By Darlene Glaze Jennings
1st Year, 1st Week....1st Detention
By Tom Kender
JFK and the Fab Four
By Ed Stout
Cars & stuff
By Marc Jennings
By Marc Jennings
Dave Todd’s Basement
By Marc Jennings
For the Children:The Great UNICEF Collection
By Marc Jennings
Girls and Horses
By Marc Jennings
Go Cougars-Beat Bulldogs!
By Darlene Glaze Jennings
"Hangin' at the Mascot"
By Tom Kender
How in the world did I get placed in Advanced Biology
By Tom Kender
Marines are Tough (mostly)
By Marc Jennings
Music Part 1: Dancing
By Marc Jennings
NOT A HICKEY-FREEMAN SUIT, BUT ….
By Ed Stout
Patty Loves Nathan’s
By Ed Stout
READ ALL ABOUT IT
By Ed Stout
Screwdrivers Can Be Dangerous:Someone Must Have Made a Mistake
By Marc Jennings
Steve Cruea - Got Your Back
By Marc Jennings
By Ed Stout
The Mooning Story
By Tom Kender
The Red Zone
By Ed Stout
By Marc Jennings
Two for the Show
By Ed Stout
Why I Liked Geometry
By Marc Jennings
The last lines of our valedictorian, Mike Levitt's address to the class of 1966
Only the dream will last.
Some distant day
The wheels will falter, and the silent sun
Will see the last beam leveled to decay
And all man's futile clangor spent and done.
Yet, after brick and steel and stone are gone
And flesh and blood are dust, the dream lives on.
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