What a blessing to look back and remember the names of those from my youth

Published 12:49 pm Monday, March 23, 2020

How many names of classmates do you remember?

My high-school graduating class attended Corpus Christi in Chicago, Class of ’58. We had to move though in ’57 since our school would no longer be co-ed at the end of that year.

I remember many of the names and the words of a popular and very beautiful song called “I’ll Be Seeing You” that my class sang to the Class of ’57 at the end of our junior-senior banquet in May of that year.

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Here are some names.

“I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places…

Dorothy Sibrie was the first new friend I made when I went to Chicago. She lived on Langley Avenue right across the street from me and went to my new school. She played with me.

“…that this heart of mine embraces all day through…

Then there was Kathleen Whitfield who sat in my same row and was the first to accompany me to the bathroom and the playground. Who could ever forget her?

“In that small café, the park across the way…

Liz Myles, too. She sat across from me and had epileptic seizures. I was so frightened to see her seizure in my class. Years later, though, when I was teaching and had some students who suffered seizures like she did, I knew what to do and how to help. Thanks, Liz.

“…the children’s carousel, …

As for the boys, I fell seriously in love with Stephen Carter and Julian Jackson, sequentially, of course. Up until that time, my preference had always been bad boys because they were always much more interesting. Both Stephen and Julian were cute, smart and cool, though. I often wonder what happened to them.

“…the chestnut trees, …

Then there was Josephine Blackburn who literally rescued us all from our 8th-grade teacher’s beginning lessons in what “dialect” was and meant. None of us knew anyone who even talked like that. Then Josephine got up and recited from memory, in dialect and all, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem called “In The Morning,” and we were hooked. She should have won an Oscar for that performance. I’ll never forget it.

“…the wishing well.

And several years ago, a mutual friend called to tell me Althea Reynolds had died. She was “Chickadee,” a name her grandmother had given her when she was born, and somehow the rest of us found out about it. So, we always called her “Chickadee.” My friend who called to tell me didn’t say “Althea” had died. She said “Chickadee.” And I knew.

“I’ll be seeing you in every lovely summer’s day…

Then there was Juanita Towns. She was our junior class queen and sat right in front of me in Fr. Roy’s geometry class. We had discovered Thomas Merton together and were reading his “Seven Storey Mountain” together. So, when Fr. Roy called on Juanita to explain something about some angle, she slammed her book shut, looked him dead in the eye, and said, “Don’t you see I’m trying to read?”

I always wanted courage like that, but at least I know what it looks and sounds like.

She’s a Carmelite nun today.

“In everything that’s light and gay…

At the end of our banquet, Jacqueline (Jackie) Jackson went over to our principal, Fr. Fabian Merz, and asked to borrow his habit. He dutifully came out of it and she proceeded to do a dead-on imitation of all his idiosyncrasies and speeches that had the rafters rolling.

“I’ll always think of you that way…

“I’ll find you in the morning sun

And when the night is new.

I’ll be looking at the moon.

But I’ll be seeing you.”


Yolande Robbins is a community columnist for The Vicksburg Post.