Saturday, August 5, 2017

Who Would Have Guessed?

Hyde Park High School
I grew up on Chicago's south side in an area known as South Shore. I attended O'Keeffe Grammar School. After my nine years there I moved on to Hyde Park High School. Hyde Park was considered a very good community high school. Because of its location it was sometimes referred to as the "prep school for the University of Chicago." Hyde Park High School opened its doors in 1894 at Kimbark Avenue and 56th Street. That building later became the home of Ray Grammar School.  In 1914 the high school opened its doors in a new building at 6220 S. Stony Island Avenue. Today that building still stands. The community has changed and the school addresses the needs of a new audience of students. It now has another name. It is the Hyde Park Academy.  Over these many years it has had some famous alumni as well.You may even recognize the name of some of these folks: Steve Allen, Fred Beebe, Jim Fuchs, Amelia Earhart (1915), Gwendolyn Brooks (1934), Mel Torme (1944). But, for me, it is still the building where my mother and I each attended high school. That is the important element in this story. Sarah Ruth Segall also lived in an area of the south side that attended this same high school. She graduated from Hyde Park in 1926. Well, years went by as they always do. Sarah Ruth grew up and, along the way, became Sally Segall Greenfield, mother of a daughter and two sons.

I really loved the idea that I was going to go to the very same high school that my mother had attended all those years ago. We each remembered silly things that were still the same. The school was one that had an up stairway and a down stairway as you entered the building. That always tickled us as we thought about 'Up the Down Stairway'. Across the street, in my day, there were gym walks in the beautiful Japanese Garden that is, once again, in place there.  There were still excellent teachers there. My high school years have always provided wonderful memories. During my senior year I joined the staff of the school yearbook staff. The Aitchpe had always been the name of annual yearbook at Hyde Park High School. It was named in 1906 just as construction began. By the time my mother began her high school years she became a student at the newest building. The one that still stands today, the one we each attended many years apart. The current advisor staff member was an English teacher named Mary L. Leitch. She was a wonderful person and a very good teacher. She was loved by all of that worked with her. This year,1949, was to be her last year of teaching. It was time for retirement.

I suppose that, at home, when I spoke of what we were doing as the yearbook moved along I had never mentioned the teacher advisor. Parents, at that time, were really interested in the names of the academic teachers. Ond day I mentioned Miss Leitch by name.  Imagine my surprise, as well as my mother's, when she said she had Miss Leitch as a teacher! It seems she was mom's teacher during one of her early years of teaching at Hyde Park High School. As she reminisced it became clear remembered her kindly and that students, so many later, respected and liked her just as my mother had.

Over the years we often spoke of that coincidence and laughed about it. She is gone now. I still love the memory of that day when we found out we had shared a high school teacher.

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