West High school was torn down not long after I graduated, in 1969, to make room for condominiums. I always thought that it was a great looking school and I was sad to hear that it was demolished. I couldn’t understand why. It seemed to be just as sturdy as any of the other schools in the city that were of the same age, many that are still standing to this day.
West had a great location. Hennepin Avenue, the standard bus route, that I took to school, goes right by the front of the school. Right across Hennepin Avenue, from the school, was the famous Thirty-One Flavors ice cream parlor. Then, if you were to walk only two blocks from the back of the school, you would run into Lake of the Isles, where you can always see people walking and running around it on the lake’s winding paved path. I often would come there to run. It’s about a 2 ½ mile jog all the way around, and its great scenery made it a great place to get a workout.
I loved the inside of the school; it was so majestic looking. The grey marble floors and the wide marble stairway made you proud to attend. The only negative memory I have of the school was trying to remember where all my classes were. And sometimes, because the school was to big, I had to run between classes to make it on time. I still have bad dreams of that—and also of not remembering where my locker was or remembering the combination.
As far my classes and the teachers, I’m sad to say that I don’t have too much of a memory of any of it. The classes that I liked best were art class and woodworking class, I suppose because you didn’t have to read anything. It was mainly just working with your hands. I think that I have always been naturally skilled in those areas. I do have some memory of other classes and the teachers, not so much because of their teaching, but for other reasons. I remember my history teacher because of the way he scribbled wildly on the black board; he was so funny. I also remember the time when he stopped and gave me a ride to school. I think I had missed the bus. Anyway, be stopped and gave me a lift. His driving was as wild as his teaching. I will never forget it.
I remember my English teacher only because she looked attractive to me. I think I tried really hard in her class, but because my reading comprehension was terrible, I did very poorly. I don’t think I ever got above a D grade.
I remember my math and biology classes because the teachers were both football coaches. Coaches were much more memorable to me, maybe because they seemed to talk straight at you, and they seemed to care more.
I remember band the most. I played the trombone, and for part of the time I was the only trombone in the band. My fond memories of band practice I’m sure was just because I loved music and love making music. Sometimes it was hard playing all the notes as written, but when it finally came together, it was so rewarding and made me feel good. And when any of the music pieces had a special trombone part, I knew it was my time to shine—and sometimes I tended to ham it up a bit!
Well, that’s all for this part. Next time I will write about my favorite thing—sports.