Roxboro Jr. High
I’ll probably think of some facts about Fairfax but let’s
skip to Roxboro for the time being. Going to Junior High School was a
big event in 1937. Roxboro, of course, went from 7th grade to 9th grade
and we really felt we had grown up when we left the elementary school.
There was a tradition at Roxboro that all 7th graders, who were known
as “Flats” had to be initiated when they first arrived at
school. As sixth graders we knew this and were determined to avoid the
hazing if we could possibly do so. The morning of orientation about 10
of us gathered at the back of Fairfax and as a group ran as fast as we
could to Roxboro. It was a good two-three miles but we made it into the
school with nobody getting caught and having lipstick smeared over their
faces which was what happened when you were hazed. Signor W. Davidson
was the principal of the school and he gathered us all in the auditorium
giving us a welcoming speech and telling us how much he hated the hazing
that he knew was going on. That didn’t stop the 8th and 9th graders
who were waiting when we came out and we all got our share.
I remember Roxboro with great affection. It was where we all started to
grow up. We had organized sports for the first time and although the football
was just 6 man football it was our introduction to the game. We had a
basketball team, which played other junior highs, and the highlight of
the basketball year was the game between the teachers and the team. We
had two or three very good men basketball players. One in particular was
Mr. Turner who was about 6’3” and he usually was enough to
beat the varsity team. ; These years were the first where we started being
really aware of girls. In the 7th grade I had a crush on Patty Fraser
and at Xmas time I went to a jewelry store and bought her a compact.
My mother felt it was too old a gift for her so took it and gave to a
daughter of a friend of hers whose name was Pat. She had to find someone
like that because the compact had a “P” on it. I don’t
remember what she helped me buy in its place. Interestingly about 1994
I took my mother to a dinner at the College Club where during dinner someone
tapped me on the shoulder and told me she was Patty Fraser. I took it
as a complement because we both were 70 years old and truthfully I would
not have recognized her. My next girlfriend lasted through the 9th grade.
Her name was Evelyn Kupka and she was the sister of one of my very best
friends at school. During the year we had many parties at various home
of friends and we usually took a date. We had to have our parents drive
of course but they were great parties. Jim Becker had the perfect house
for the parties so we had most of them there. He was a celebrity because
Tyrone Power, the actor, was his cousin and while we never met him we
felt as if we knew him because his picture was around the house.
I Was never very musical when I was young but my mother wanted me to take
piano lessons. My teacher was Mrs. Goddard who had taught my mother when
she was young so you know she had to be ancient. Lessons cost .50 cents
and as far as I was concerned that’s about the value I received.
Mother finally gave up on the lessons but Dave and John later took them
and they became quite good on the piano. In Roxboro I decided to take
up the clarinet. I was lousy and was last clarinetist in the ‘band
but I got to wear the Roxboro uniform in the marching band so I was proud
of that. My good friend John Kupka was the first clarinetist on the band
but he couldn’t help me musically. Other friends of whom I will
talk later were also in the band; Larry Russell played the French horn
and Tom Rogers the Base Drum. Mrs. Goodwin, the director of the band,
was the best looking teacher in the school and that might have influenced
We got to Roxboro in one of two ways. If the weather was nice we rode
our bikes. Everyone had a basket for their lunch and books and the 2-3
mile ride was fun because we would meet others going to school and ride
together. If the weather was bad we took the streetcar that went down
the center of Fairmount Blvd. That car continued all the way downtown
and I believe the fare was .10 cents.
The teachers at Roxboro were very good. There are three that I remember
more than others. Mr. Walter Armstrong was the science teacher. Unfortunately
he had been gassed during World War I and acted strangely at times. We
as kids were unfair and unkind to him but he was well liked by everyone.
Ray Ellerman was the physical Education Director. In those days if you
misbehaved in class there were no restrictions on paddling. Ray was the
only one I remember doing so but all of another or us at one time felt
the sting of his paddle. Miss Priscilla Tyler was everyone’s favorite.
She taught English and although somewhat disabled with a misshapen arm
she went to all the sporting events and usually took a half dozen of us
with her in her car, which had a rumble seat. She moved on to Heights
High when we did so we were fortunate to have her for English later on.
It was at Roxboro that I met a friend who would be a friend for all my
life. In the summer of 1937 I went to the Centerville Mills Y camp on
Rt. 306. Two days before going we all went down to the 105th St. YMCA
for orientation. There I met Tom Rogers who lived in East Cleveland at
the time. The next day and the day before camp started I went to Cumberland
Pool for a swim. Cumberland Pool was part of the Cleveland Heights Recreation
Department and everyone went there almost every day in the summer. We
would ride our bikes there and when you got dressed for swimming you had
to go through a foot test to see that you had no evidence of athlete’s
foot. We spent many a happy hour at that pool which is still there today.
Anyway on this particular day when I was leaving I decided to stop at
Meithers Ice Cream parlor for a cone. Meithers was a popular hangout and
the cones, double dip, were 5 cents. Soon after getting the cone I was
driving one handed and lost control of the bike and had quite a crash
hurting my eye. I held the cone over my eye all the way home and when
I reported for camp the next day I had a shiner which Tom Rogers never
let me forget. Tom stayed a very good friend until his death in 1985 from
a brain tumor. I will talk more of him later.