Monday, August 31, 2009

Glenville High Classes of 1959 50 Year Reunion

Cleveland’s Glenville High School Classes of 1959 recently celebrated their Fifty Year Reunion, and I decided that I must share in at least part of the weekend festivities. I tell people that because of a threatened TKO, I did not actually attend Glenville. Those who follow the sport of boxing, and many who don’t, realize that TKO is the abbreviation for Technical Knockout. A Technical Knockout is the best I could have hoped for if I had attempted to go against my mother’s instructions that I should attend Cleveland Trade School (now Max S. Hayes) instead of Glenville. It wasn’t that my mother didn’t care for Glenville, but in 1956 when the decision was to be made about what school to attend, there was not a lot of promise on the horizon for entering into the job market that suddenly opened up for minorities less than ten years later.

My mother’s decision was that I would attend Cleveland Trade School where I could learn a trade and in her words “stay out of trouble.” My mother knew a lot, but she didn’t know the about the 300 plus students at Cleveland Trade School that did not look like me, and in many cases did not like my looks, even before we met. Anyway, I and my less than one dozen equally challenged African American brothers survived the experience, and now my explanation to my “almost” Glenville classmates is complete. It was not my fault!

I did have the good fortune to grow up in the Glenville area and attend Empire Junior High School, so I knew many people at the reunion. For those unfamiliar with the era, the late 1950’s ushered in Glenville’s long and proud tradition as a school that produced legendary sports figures. While at Empire I loved to run, and with people around me like Nate Adams, Victor Reed, Renaldo Reed, and Major Calhoun, I spent a lot of time looking at the back of those who ran track. But I would not quit! Little did I know that I was in training for Cleveland Trade School!

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing classmates, some of whom I had not seen in over fifty-three years. It was a fond reminder of what in many ways, was a kinder and gentler world. Those memories have helped me survive and prosper against many a challenge that I could not have imagined. Those who are no longer with us left an empty spot, but it was a reminder that we are not here to stay, and if we are here, it must be for a reason.

I was equally troubled as I wondered what reunions might be like fifty years from now. So many young people are not graduating. Today, many young people are becoming the perpetrators or victims of senseless violence. What will help take them through the challenges of adulthood? What will they celebrate fifty years after high school?

While the purpose of the reunion was to re-connect with old classmates, it also renewed that underlying need to continue to work with, set an example for, and inspire our youth. So to my fellow Glenville “Classmates,” we have work that is yet undone. Keep the torch lit Tarblooders!

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