Richard Steele's 50th high school reunion

August 4, 2010

On July 31st, the members of the Hirsch High School graduating class of 1960 reunited once again - and our colleague Richard Steele was among them.‚  Just 10 years earlier, he and his classmates were the subject of a Chicago Tribune profile about Hirsh graduates from the Sixties.‚  Here are his reflections: First I'd like to report that, contrary to stereotypical accounts of high school reunions, mine did not suck. ‚  No, my 50th was a hoot! Our gathering had a different spirit than an event held ten years earlier - one that became the focus of a Chicago Tribune story. The Tribune did an in-depth story about a reunion of Hirsch High School graduates from throughout the 1960's.‚  The piece illustrated the effects of a racial transition in Chicago's Grand Crossing and Chatham communities that lasted from 1960 until 1969. More than half of my 1960 graduating classmates were white.‚  By the time my brother graduated in 1966, there were just a few.‚  By 1969, there were none.‚  The article pointed out that no white students were expected to show up at our collective class reunions ten years ago. ‚ That turned out to be accurate. But the story of the recently held 2010 reunion for the Hirsch graduating class of 1960 had a different outcome.‚  Of the 200 hundred or so 1960 graduates, about 46 of them responded to the reunion invite and of those 46, eight were white.‚  Two of our old teachers even showed up.‚  They, too, were white.‚  We had a marvelous time. Yes, we did have the obligatory I.D tags, each with our own "Ëœdoofus'-looking yearbook photo.‚  Only half of the group even resembled their photo.‚  The other half looked so different only our mothers would've recognized us. ‚ We laughed a lot as we locked ourselves into denial about the fact that we ever looked like that. Music is usually an integral part of any kid's high school memories, and we, of course, were no different.‚  In our case, reminiscing as we listened to "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" by the Teenagers (circa 1956) took us back to some torrid teenage fantasies about romance. Along with a great dinner, we had a riotous raffle, giving away t-shirts and buttons with printed phrases like "I may be old, but I got to see all the cool bands".‚  And in the end, the consensus was‚  "this was one of the best one-time events" that anyone had ever been to. So could this be the answer to the issue of Chicago's racial divide?‚  All we have to do is let 50 years pass so that our ideas about race have had a chance to mellow.
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