New Name – New School……#28 (the 50’s)

Frick Junior High Oakland California

Mike was no more, the excitation use of his middle name in school would remain behind at Burckhalter Elementary, henceforth it would be Gary who enrolled in the 7th grade at Frick Junior High.  Crestfallen was what described his sentiment, not quite a disappointment,  just something a little less. These were  Gary’s thoughts as he arrived at what would be his new academic home for the next three years.  He reasoned the circumstance that caused a sense of disillusionment to surface was his midterm graduation which propelled you directly into a new environment, no summer vacation or extended pause before entering junior high.

The  building was three stories high, the upper floors with their echoing hallways accessed by three stairwells,  the center stairs for going up and the two end ones for descending, with administrative offices occupying a  center hub downstairs on the Foothill Blvd front side of the building.  The facility also sustained a full service cafeteria, auditorium, orchestra room, mechanical drawing, wood, sheet metal and forge vocational shops.  A large partitioned gymnasium area separating the boys from the girls for intramural indoor sports and a small array of portable classroom buildings.  The educational structure with its manicured lawn setback a distance from the Foothill Blvd thoroughfare, with the 64th Ave side of the school displaying the shops and gym also complete with a large black top area, large tennis practice backboard and an array of outdoor basketball backboards with hoops.   The remainder of the voluminous two city square block domain consisted of baseball backstops and dirt flag football playing areas.  Gary estimating the Low-7 class size at close to 150 students, with the rest of the student body class’s much the same, making the total enrollment at Frick around nine hundred students.

Don Bryant

Henry Albert Ball – III – better known as Hank

He wasn’t alone that first morning, his friends Don already a June semester 7th grader and Hank a midterm 8th grader directing him to the posted home room assignment lists before going their separate ways,  soon discovering he was in Mrs. Bigelow’s home room class in one of the portable buildings.  Most of the faces surrounding him were no longer the familiar ones he saw every school day for the last six years at Burckhalter.  Another new experience was a locker assignment, home for the books and since the Boys didn’t dress for gym,  just the girls, a place to stash his needed  tennis shoes for gym class. His subjects consisted of English,  Social Studies,  Art,  Mechanical Drawing,  Arithmetic and P.E.  each subject in a different classroom with a different  teacher.  One of the first things Gary experienced was how fast the school day would elapse in comparison to sitting in one elementary classroom with one teacher for all day.

Key System public transportation to Frick Jr. High

Key System public transportation to Frick Jr. High

His  school day at home starting no different from the past, awakened to the voice of his mother’s normal morning epitaph,  “if you want any a breakfast you better get a move on”.  That’s where similarities parted,  no longer was walking to school an option,  or even mounting his bike considering the hills and the distance.  Frick Junior High was thirty-five blocks or 3 1/2 miles by bus,  making bus transportation a necessity.  Key System, Oakland’s public bus transportation service  scheduled additional bus’ s before and after school for city-wide student transportation.  The school provided complementary bus tickets in book form at not cost to students living a designated distance from the school.  In the Mornings Gary would meet Don and Hank, the three walking to the Greenly Drive coach stop by the Water Works, catching  the  7:45 bus able to arrive at school with time to spare.   He was fortunate if running late for the 7:45 bus, from his hillside living room window having a perfect view of the entrance to the  Oak Knoll Naval Hospital 3/4 of a mile away able to see a later second bus pulling into the hospital’s main gate stop, the view provided time for him to walk the two blocks to the bus stop.   The Seminary #56 or Oak Knoll Bus as it was known, would disembark the students three blocks from Frick on Seminary Ave. either prior to or at the intersection of Seminary Ave and Foothill Blvd.

Foster Freeze across from Frick Jr. High

Foster Freeze across from Frick Jr. High

Oak Knoll Bus boarding on Greenly Drive

Oak Knoll Bus boarding on Greenly Drive

The  school day starting every morning in home room with an attendance check and the Pledge of Allegiance and announcements,  the remainder of the twenty minutes used at the student’s discretion normally for last-minute homework additions.  The curriculum for seventh grade students was predetermined with no electives.  Besides Mrs. Bigelow’s home room,  Gary started his day with Mr. Tabor’s physical education class, Mr. Alves social studies,  Mr. Noyes Mechanical Drawing,  Miss. Jory’s English, Mr. Templeman’s art class and Mr. Dostones  arithmetic.  The school bell system something new to the junior high arrivals, elementary schools having limited use for the bells, Burckhalter sounding two bells five minutes apart at the start of school, then  proclaiming the beginning and ending of the lunch period and a singular bell at the finish of the day and of course the continuous bell for a fire drill.   The Junior High bell system similar, a two bell system announcing the beginning and end of each classroom period, the students having five minutes between classes to get to their lockers before the sounding of next bell.   Gary was impressed,  Frick having an open campus, the junior high students able to leave the school grounds during the lunch period.  The school providing a full service balanced meal cafeteria, a book of ten tickets costing  $2:50 or $3:50, the higher priced tickets included a bountiful desert.  Across the street from the school on Foothill Blvd were two student drawing establishments.  The Doggie Diner, a single counter small establishment providing a variety of hot dogs, chips and soft drinks, Gary surmising that  the school was the primary reason for  the business location.  On the corner of 64th and  across Foothill from the School gymnasium, was a Foster Freeze, a dispenser of soft ice cream and fountain accouterments, when not frequenting the cafeteria finding a chilidog from the diner and a root beer shake from Fosters a fulfilling treat for a seventh grader.

Gary becoming comfortable with his new surroundings, a new experience, new name,  new school,  new teachers,  new curriculum,  new friends and another new journey on the road of life.


3 Responses to “New Name – New School……#28 (the 50’s)”

  1. Granville Millison Says:

    How often do you write your blogs? I enjoy them a lot 3 2 1

    • gwillson7 Says:

      Thank you for asking. I write everyday and I have a lifetime of events to tell about. It fun reliving and writing about those events.

      Take care…………….Gary

  2. Don T Bryant Says:

    I remember the first few days of “low 7” at Frick. That was the entrance all new students – it consisted of being covered with lipstick at the end of the school day. We had to leave the lipstick on until we got home to take it off. I also remember being forced to go up to girls and ask “do you wear pink falsies?” I remember getting very embarresed at having to do that. I was not even sure what thye pink falsies were at that point.

    Don T

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