Freshman year at Harper Creek High. And a field trip to Chicago

Wattles Park Jr. High
The old Harper Creek High

In September 1969 my last year of school in the Harper Creek school system began. I would walk to the Wattles Park Jr. High and ride a bus to Harper Creek High school. Sometimes I would catch a ride to school on the back of Carlos Washingtons motorcycle. My parents did not like me to ride with Carlos as they thought it was dangerous. They were right. However I rode anyway from time to time.

Harper Creek Schools

Wow. Ten years of schooling in the Harper Creek school system including kindergarten. It seemed unreal to me that this would be my last year in this school system.

I can’t remember the names of my teachers in 9th grade. School life as a freshman was different in a few ways. It was first time I had a homeroom. No recess. We were all way too mature and grown up for that! I tend to differ with that thought. Recess is good for both the young and the old. You are never too old to play.

Classes consisted of the usual. Math. Sciences. History. English. And somthing new. Vocational classes. Machine shop. Auto shop and woodworking. I choose machine shop for my vocational class and at the end produced some fine punches.

Social activities at the school included football games and school dances. My girl Sandy and I loved dances and attended most of them. It felt so good dancing with Sandy. Holding her close. Smelling the sweet fragrance of her cologne and hair. I was in heaven when I was holding Sandy close to me.

Around May of 1970 our class took a field trip to Chicago. A Friday, Saturday and a return on Sunday via Greyhound bus. This trip made me, and I believe many other fellow students feel very grown up. The trip was chaperoned albeit lightly. My mother went too to serve as one of the girls chaperones. We all stayed in one hotel and ate our breakfast together in the hotels large dining room. After breakfast and announcements we all would que up for the bus for the days activities.

There are two side trips that we took on the Chicago field trip that stands out clearly in my memory. One was the trip to the The John Hancock Center.

The John Hancock Center is a 100-story, 1,128-foot supertall skyscraper located in Chicago Illinois. Located in the magnificent mile district, its name was changed to 875 North Michigan Avenue on February 12, 2018. Despite this, the building is still colloquially called the John Hancock Center.  When the building topped out on May 6, 1968, it was the second-tallest building in the world, the tallest in Chicago, and the tallest outside New York City. It is currently the fifth tallest building in Chicago and the thirteenth tallest in the US, behind the Aon Center in Chicago and ahead of the Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia. When measured to the top of its antenna masts, it stands at 1,500 feet (457 m). The building is home to several offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums, and at the time of its completion contained the highest residence in the world. The building was named for John Hancock Insurance Company, a developer and original tenant of the building.  In 2018, John Hancock Insurance requested that its name be removed and the owner is seeking another naming rights deal.

From the 95th floor restaurant, diners can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan . The observatory (360 Chicago), which competes with the Willis Tower’s Skydeck, has a 360° view of the city, up to four states, and a distance of over 80 miles (130 km).

I remember the elevator ride to the top floor. It was a very fast elevator indeed!

The museum of science and industry

The second side trip that comes to mind is the trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. What a place! As you walk into the atrium there is a pendulum that hangs from the ceiling that looks like hundreds of feet high. The pendulum never stops swinging back and forth and it is said that it is the rotation of the earth that keeps it swinging.

My favorite exhibit was the German submarine U-505. It was one of just six German submarines captured by the Allies during World War II,  and, since its arrival in 1954, the only one on display in the Western Hemisphere, as well as the only one in the United States. The U-boat was newly restored beginning in 2004 after 50 years of being displayed outdoors, and was then moved indoors as “The New U-505 Experience” on June 5, 2005. Displayed in an underground shed, it remains as a popular exhibit for visitors, as well as a memorial to all the casualties of the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II. I was amazed how anyone could survive in the cramped quarters of the submarine.

It was a good trip indeed and on Sunday morning we all got on the Greyhound bus and made our way back to Battle Creek, all the time singing at the top of our voices, 99 bottles of beer on the wall!

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