Wilbur Junior High Around Town, posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2008 at 8:53 am
Why not? Thought I’d start a little thread on my old ala marter. You know how they say you mellow with age – if you knew me back then, you’d know I’ve mellowed – In fact, I feed and talk to the birds and squirrels these days. If I keep that up, I’ll be able to retire a little earlier than expected.
My first experience with Wilbur was watching The Music Man in '67 or '68 I think. Two years later, I’d participate in Oliver. It was a huge transformation to go from elementary school to junior high. Lockers, 7 periods, snack bar, snack machines and a cafeteria – things not available in elementary school then.
AND, to hone my tough-guy image, Wilbur had an open campus so that if I were on the Mitchell Park side of the path, I could smoke cigarettes with the 8th and 9th graders. Not a lot of us 7th grade smokers during my first semester.
Ahh, and then there was Miss Heilman, my 7th grade homeroom teacher that I had a crush on. In her enthusiasm, she’d pound the podium teaching Western Civilization. Back then, some teachers wore “mini skirts” (grrrrououwwwwwww). Years later, she’d recall that I was scholarly (no doubt she had me mix up with someone else).
Then there was Vice Principal Mr. Leon, who every morning would ride his bike past us smokers at the BBQ area of Mitchell Park (“back then,” teachers and staff lived and worked in the same city, or very close by). We’d exchange pleasant good mornings. That was one thing, I was never tardy for school. I’d get to the BBQ area at about 7:15am with some scrap pieces of wood from new homes being built. We’d burn them in the BBQ’s for warmth during the winter.
Bell bottoms had just come on the scene and although we weren’t into styles and brands, if you were cool, you wore bell bottoms, and if you wore bell bottoms, you were cool. In 8th grade, me and 5 others were “busted” by the Palo Alto Police. Using “narcs on bikes” (Palo Alto Times ran a story on this elite group), they staked out Hoover Park where we were passing around a joint. They had long hair, beards and beads, and they swooped down on us so fast, we were still wondering what was going on while we were being cuffed and police cars driving through the park to pick us up. We were taken to the new jail (now old) and 3 of us were put in one room and three in the other room. We were transported to Juvenile Hall in San Jose where our parents picked us up that evening. Back in the days of “hands on” parenting, I was surprised that my parents were not as pissed as I thought they were going to be. But, like the rest of my peers, my parents were on the verge of a divorce. Being busted only increased our “coolness.” For the most part, even us “at risk” (that term wasn’t around back then) kids made it through school and eventually to college. While there were clearly different groups of kids, there wasn’t much division between the groups. In fact, there was probably a mutual respect for different group’s personalities.
Posted by Not an alumnus, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2008 at 10:52 am
Wilbur/Paly alum wrote, "What I want to know is why they changed the name to JLS. Isn't that rude to name the school after someone and then take it away? It's also confusing to those who don't know the history."
I'm not an alumnus of Wilbur, but I remember being a bit surprised when I came home to visit my family and drove by the school and learned of the name change. Maybe it's just the Cal alumnus in me saying this, but aren't there enough things in P.A. named "Stanford"??? ;-)
Seriously, does anyone recall what the rationale for the change was?
Posted by Robyn, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2008 at 11:49 am
Ha ha....Good old Wilbur Warriors. I was in the first class of 8th graders that didn't get to leave there as a 9th grader...we were the first Freshman class of Cubberley High School back in 1975. I remember Mr. and Mrs Hori, my homeroom teacher Mrs. Wermouth (sp) and my Social Studies teacher Mr. Ludolph. Oh, and Mr. Baldwin in Science. And the dreaded Mrs. Hurst in math. But the one thing that really sticks in my mind were those horrible chairs that we had to sit in. They were those chair and desk "combos" that had a place for your books in a holder near the base of the chair. But when you would reach for something you dropped, the whole contraption would topple over with you in it! Everyone would stop and stare and laugh, of course. And yes, it happened to me once too! Good times, LOL.
Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm
I’m going to bring my yearbook with me when I write here tomorrow (I hope some of you will do the same) – I don’t want to do any injustice. It’s just that there were some exceptional teachers (including the two drama teachers – one of whom passed away a few years back) and other teachers that really did make positive impacts on me and others.
And, of course, there were some others (those wild stories about that particular shop teacher that used the paint room as his personal bar – I’m sure it was just a story).
I look back and feel very fortunate to have attended Wilbur Junior High. Mrs Gadioux (pronounced Gudew) – She was the attendance lady who worked in the Admin building. Once, just one time I planned to cut class. Jordon had a half day and one of my friends came over to get me out of Wilbur. He wrote a fake note presumably from my mom. Mrs. Gadoux took one look at it and gave me a chance. I could either take it back and everything would be forgotten, or I could keep up the charade. Welp . . . shortly after I left with my friend, she called my mom and I was grounded for the next two weeks.
Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on May 5, 2008 at 8:26 am
As promised in an earlier posting, I wanted to acknowledge some of the teachers at Wilbur with the help of consulting my Wilbur Warrior 1970 yearbook:
Mrs. McGilvray – She never gave up on me, but I couldn’t draw a straight line and should have flunked art
Natasha Gordon – Drama – Anyone who had her would say that she was most inspiring. She wrote in my yearbook that she’d always remember me saying, “. . . but I’ve got a really good one.” (Playing the hippie and doper in drama probably got tiring after a semester.)
Mrs. Cherrington – Drama – In the 1970 yearbook, there’s a picture of her “demonstrating the art of walking.”
Mrs. Hampton – Math – Very pretty, it was rumored that she used to be a Playboy Bunny. I don’t know.
Miss Heilman – Western Civ and Homeroom teacher – I had a crush on her! She'd pound the podium with great enthusiasm. Many years later, she told me that I was one of her most scholarly pupils (obviously had me mixed up with someone else).
Mr. Kaplan – He had personality-plus. Known for keeping the class attentative with his “stories.” Kids loved hearing his stories. What many folks don’t know was that he was a WWII war hero and received one of the highest medals of velour (I can’t recall which medal) when he risked his own life, put himself in the line of fire and saved several people from his platoon. That was one story he never discussed. Unfortunately, I learned of this at his memorial.
Mr. Jacobson – typing. Hey, he played KLIV radio station during typing so that people would learn to type with distraction.
If anyone would like a few pages or their picture copied, let me know and I’ll get it to you.
Posted by Jordana, a resident of Menlo Park, on May 5, 2008 at 9:49 am
When I was in 7th grade they closed Jordan and sent all North PA students packing to Wilbur. They combined both schools so we had only 1 middle school in PA. I think they wanted a fresh start and a new school for everyone.
Posted by lisa leonard, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 10:25 am
Perhaps it's because my 30 year high school reunion is coming up next year, or the floating email I received about inspiring teachers...
I've been trying to find information on Natasha Gordon. She was the best teacher/friend I had while I was at Wilbur and then at Cubberley. I know she passed away quite some time ago from breast cancer. I was living in San Diego at the time (and still am)and I wanted to know if there had been a foundation or charity set up in her honor. I would love to hear from anyone who had a similar experience with Natasha while attending her drama classes. She really made high school fun.
Posted by Milesunlimited, a member of the Palo Verde School community, on Jul 5, 2008 at 2:17 pm
Warrrriors! Come out to PLAAY A!
My initial or gut response to the writer's remembrances of Mitchell Park is to play on a well worn statement of (I think) Dennis Hopper; If you can remember Mitchell Park, you weren't REALLY there MAN. But seriously, I really appreciate the clarity and candor of the experiences there as being similar to my own.
I am amazed at how well we got around on our bikes. Everywhere. With all the short-cuts and parks and schools, it seems travel times were reasonably short. No wonder I was able to play football and go compete with the cross-country team at the same time.
Being a horrid football player myself, coach Cal Shulz never discouraged me from being on the team. Before our home game against Jordan (for the city championship, as I recall,) Coach Shulz burst into the wrestling room drenched from head to toe exclaiming "Boys, It's rain'n like a tall cow peeing on a flat rock out there!" I don't remember any rain during the game but we were so loose, those visitors had no chance against us that day.
John Poff and John Dalton taught me how to use math skills in everyday life. They were both very tough but fair. Mr. Dalton had the World Series on TV while we took an exam. Years later I had the privilege of working with Mr. Poff's daughter at a high tech company in Foster City. She was a serious worker with an easy smile and I was given an opportunity to respect her father from an unexpected venue.
I could go on and on and perhaps I'll return with more, If there is interest. Thank you for this thread.
P.S. I forgot, I too was a victim of those awful desk/chairs.
Posted by CubAlum, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm
A suggestion: Why not make this a Wilbur/Cubberley thread? (Since those of us who went to W. usually graduated from C.)
Wilbur was not an especially attractive place in the 1960s--clunky architecture painted pastel green with lots of red concrete--an unfortunate combination. But in retrospect. . .how privileged we all were to have gone to school there. Art classes, music, field trips to San Francisco and beyond, sports, our own pool, a variety of language classes including Latin . . . . It's just too bad some of the old oak trees that used to be on campus couldn't have been saved.
School assemblies in the linoleum-floored "Cafetorium"
Homemaking class in 8th grade--girls were required to take this, and it consisted of instruction in cooking, sewing, and child care (the boys took shop)
Mrs. Fujikawa blasting "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" at us in Music Appreciation class--enormous speakers with deep velvety bass notes
Pep rallies and Sock Hops at noon in the gym--people dancing to "Suzy Q"
Big, formal dances being held at night. . .in the "Cafetorium". Elvin Bishop actually played at one
Having P. E. first thing in the morning, in winter--racing barefoot across icy asphalt dressed in a loaner black speedo swimsuit that did not fit properly, jumping into the steaming pool which reeked of chlorine, having to tread water for ten minutes (timed with a stopwatch) while roll was called, drying off afterwards with a shrimpy little towel that felt like sandpaper and smelled like burnt toast--showing up damp, exhausted and usually late at my next class
Mr. Robinson's art class--he let us play KFRC radio while we worked on our projects--Glenn Campbell singing "Wichita Lineman"
Some of the more famous "Wilburley" alums:
Dr. Michio "Mike" Kaku, physicist, class of 1963 or '64
Jon Jang, jazz musician, class of 1972
Julie Eardley, inventor of "Deja Shoe" (made from recycled materials), class of 1972
Drew Youngs, rock musician, class of 1973
Carol Blue, wife of "writer/polemicist" Christopher Hitchens(there was a New Yorker profile of the two of them in the October 16, 2006 issue), class of 1973
Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:03 am
Hi Lisa, Milesunlimited, CubAlum,
I forgot that I started this thread. Maybe I partied a little too much on “The Hill” at Mitchell Park – I thought that I would write a little paragraph about a couple teachers and when I opened this thread, I discovered that I had already done that. Dang!!
Anywho . . .
Lisa, Like you, I have very fond memories of Natasha Gordon. I’m reading what she wrote in my Wilbur Warrior 1970 yearbook. I see that she always saw the good in people.
CubAlum, One semester I had PE 1st period and I can relate with you, but you had it harder. It was spring and we played tennis. I don’t know if I would have relished swimming and treading water for 10 minutes for 1st period. Although I imagine it was a good wake-up call. Drew Young came to the Any Year Cub Reunion that we put on at Mitchell Park about 8 years ago. I know he’s a musician. Maybe famous?
Milesunlimited, You’re right about the bikes and all the shortcuts. I think that the only kids who were occasionally driven to school were those who played the Tuba in the band as it wouldn’t have been practical to ride a bike with a Tuba (although before I played the drums, I played trumpet and rode my bike with it. That of course meant that I left my school books at home). I remember the name Cal Shulz and I’m looking at the yearbook but only see Coach Williams, Cavender, McLachlin and Klett.
And yes, why does Palo Alto play musical chairs with school names. I liked being a Wilbur Warrior and I know some of my friends liked being a Jordon Dolphin (ha ha).
Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2009 at 2:17 pm
Leonard Kaplan – What can I say? Mr. Kaplan was one of my favorite teachers. He taught me in public school, Sunday school and Hebrew School (although on those last two, I spent too much time in the bathroom smoking and while I learned to read Hebrew, I didn’t understand of word of it).
Everyone would always beg him to tell some of his stories. And look, it wore off on me. It disturbs me that I always find out after the fact that someone I’ve known very well has died - just a floor above where I work. Because of privacy issues, names of patients are not freely dispensed here at the VA Hospital so I find out when I read it in the obits. And in doing so with Mr. Kaplan, I found that I was not too late for his memorial at Beth Am. Until then, I was not aware that Mr. Kaplan was a true war hero in WW-II. Of all the stories, he never mentioned how he had saved many lives in his platoon and was given top medals for that.
When I was 16, I asked my doctor – Dr. Lew (that is Dr. Zamvile), “So, when am I going to grow some more?” In his raspy voice he declared, “Well, you probably aren’t going to do much more growing!” WHAT?!? I thought. Seeing my looked of horror, he asked, “Mr. Kaplan is small. Is there something wrong with him?” And I’m thinking, well, ah, no, but he’s not the height I’d prefer for myself. Dr. Zamvile sure knew his stuff! No discussion about why, or whether their was some pill I could take – just an unarguable argument that if there’s nothing wrong with Mr. Kaplan being short, then there’s nothing wrong with me being short. And speaking of no debate:
Mr. Kaplan gave me a “B” for my debate performance and I still think I did not deserve that – I really deserved a D. The subject was the Viet Nam War. Michelle Cahill did the pro and I did the no. A week before the debate, I was given a three inch thick debate book and I never opened it. I figured with all the protests I went to (i.e., Stanford Frost Amphitheatre – David Harris and Joan Baez – I knew it all. I certainly never expected anyone, even someone as smart as Michelle, would be able to successfully argue for the war. So when she finished, I walked up to the podium – stunned! “Auhhhhh.” I repeated for about 15 seconds. And then I thoughtfully picked up that book I had never opened. I opened a page, writing too small and I didn’t have my glasses (too cool for glasses). “Auhhhhhhh.” Again. And to tell the truth, I cannot remember anything I said that warranted a B, but Mr. Kaplan gave me a B.
Posted by 1964 Grad, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2009 at 8:22 pm
Mr. Kaplan - wow! Gosh, I adored that guy! He gave me my first 24-point A, and even though we stood eye-to-eye when I was 11, I never noticed his height - he was just the teacher I worked the hardest for.
Truthfully, I barely remember the others.
But Mr. Kaplan encouraged me to take Architecture in the 8th grade, instead of Home Ec. This wasn't permitted, of course, so he appeared with my Dad at a School Board meeting and convinced the Board that girls should be entitled to take anything they wanted as Electives. I had ulterior motives, of course - I was the only girl in the class! Not that it helped! lol
And the towels always smelled like graham crackers to me. Decomposing graham crackers.
Posted by Erin, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2009 at 10:17 pm
Jordana has the history right. When Jordan was closed and all 7th and 8th graders were at one middle school, the district decided that, to be fair, the name needed to change. Jane Lathrop Stanford was the chosen name. Why? I don't know. Maybe because everyone in Palo Alto wants to have the name "Stanford" on their transcript somewhere, even if it's just for middle school. It's always been known as JLS to the students. My mom (a Wilbur/Cubberly grad) still can't bring herself to call it anything but Wilbur even though my brother and I went to JLS.
When Jordan was reopened it was decided that it would be better to keep the current name than to keep switching back and forth.
Onward with your Wilbur/Cubberly memories. They're fun to read.
Posted by Jennifer Leghorn Mehler (graduated Wilbur 1963), a member of the Fairmeadow School community, on May 2, 2011 at 9:08 pm
Leonard Kaplan was by far my most favorite teacher. Long after I finished school I would head back to Palo Alto to visit him either at Wilbur or at him home.
I remember visiting him at school once and talking to him about the commune where I'd been living. He had me stick around and talk to one of his classes about "Communal Living With The Manson Family". (I had stumbled upon them a few months after the murders and at the time thought they'd been framed.) I doubt that this discussion would have been approve if anyone had taken time to check it out, but it was done so suddenly that no permission was ever sought. The class discussion was interesting, and at the end one girl said she would also like to live with The Family. My reaction was that she'd never make it. But I didn't tell her that.
Mr. Kaplan questioned many of my choices, but he never left me feeling shunned or looked down upon because of the lifestyle I chose at that time.
Years later when I married someone Jewish who kept Kosher and studied Torah, my discussions with Leonard changed. I believe of all the teachers I've had in public school, he is the one I value most and is also the one who has had the strongest affect on my life.
My last year at Wilbur my mother died (my parents had divorced two or three years prior) and Dwight Webb, my school counselor, got together with all of my teachers and made sure that I passed.... even though my work wasn't anywhere near satisfactory. Dwight moved to Durham, NH to teach at the university. I visited him there during my "hippie" years while traveling around.
So now I'm a sedate 63 (2011) and still enjoying my memories.
Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on May 3, 2011 at 9:38 am
My parents, together with other families, were close to the Kaplan’s. As my former dentist said (Stan Levin), divorce sure has a way of screwing up the weekly bridge game.
But before the divorce, we carpooled with the Kaplan’s and I also had him for Sunday School.
Mr. Kaplan had a unique form of teaching and was one of the best story tellers I ever knew. Pupils would beg him to “tell a story!” There was one story he never told.
Working at the VA, I was reading the newspaper and was stunned to find that he had passed on. As I read further, I saw that his memorial was planned for that very morning at Beth Am. So I left work to go.
What I heard at the memorial was probably the greatest story, and it was about him. Although I can’t remember the details, during WW2, he was a decorated hero. But that was one very note worthy story that he never mentioned. From what I recall, his platoon was under heavy enemy fire and bullets were flying all over the place. His actions saved a bunch of folks in his platoon and he was recognized for his extreme bravery.
I had a way of disrupting the class sometimes with my antics but he was always kind to me. I was well into my late 20s when at Hoover Park, next to the original Herbert Hoover Elementary school, I came across a bird that had fallen from the nest. (I didn’t know about the Animal Rescue services then) I picked up the bird and thought that taking it to one of the classrooms, the teacher would know what to do with it. There was one door open so I walked in with the chirping bird and all the little students crowed around me and the bird. I looked over towards the teacher and there he was – Mr. Kaplan. He smiled and kind of shook his head back and forth. Gee, I had to disrupt his class one more time.
Posted by Jennifer Mehler, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on May 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm
Thank you for sharing about Mr. Kaplan's WWII experience. I think that I found some reference to it on the internet that said he was a Lt. Col. He was a very giving person in so many way
One of the last times I saw him I arrived just as he was taking his wife to have her hair done. She was blind at that point, but he kept her world familiar, taking her to the same beauty parlor and making sure she saw the same person each time was an example of that. The only difference was that he stayed with her while she had her hair done.
The last time I was at their home I found Leonard had died. I sat with his wife and her care giver. I'm sorry, but I've forgotten his wife's name now, though we both remembered each other at the time.
Do you remember what stories he read in your class? I remember him reading from GREAT TALES OF TERROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL, a book of stories by Edgar Allan Poe. I even went out and bought a copy of it. He definitely gave us an inspiration to read. *smile*
Posted by Bonnie Miller, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on May 29, 2011 at 3:16 am
Anyone remember Mrs. Acevedo? I had her for science, don't know if she taught anything else. Rumored to be a communist. And Mrs. McGilvray, I don't think she ever gave up on any of us, no matter how awful we may have been. Mr. Poff was tough, can't say I liked him at the time, but I learned the math. He didn't give up either, just kept pushing you till you got it. Overall I had a pretty good crop of teachers at Wilbur. Still had plenty of time to spend at Mitchell Park before and after school. LOL
Posted by Jennifer (Leghorn) Mehler, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Feb 21, 2012 at 4:11 am
What made the most difference to me, by many of the teachers and staff at Wilbur, was the compassion they shared when my mother died my last year there.
I did very little, if any, homework after her death. I remember sitting and staring out the windows much of the time. Yet each teacher made sure that I passed their class and was able to move onto High School. There were 24 points possible. Achievement 12, Ability 6, and Attitude 6. I think I made it with all Cs and one D that semester... much less than what I'd been able to do before. When my mother was dying Dwight Webb (counselor) found a BIG SISTER from Stanford to spend time with me each week. It was exactly what I needed at that time.
I think that we all found at least one special teacher who took an interest in us at Wilbur.
Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 21, 2012 at 8:21 am
I just read your post and I thought how hard that must have been for you to lose your mother so young. Your post hit a nerve and I'm glad to have read it; it showed how when we go through real hard times, it seems that there is always someone out there who wants to help us through. Do you still live in the area? What did you do after graduating school and did you start a family of your own? Thank you for your post Jennifer - it made me think and recognize that the teachers and staff at Wilbur would really come through during hard times, and that maybe that's just the nature of teachers.
Posted by Bill Klink, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 1, 2012 at 11:01 am
Just ran across this string...what great memories of a school now misnnamed for sure.
Just to set the record straight on famous scarlet and gray alums.
Michio Kaku would have graduated in 1962 (I graduated in 1964 from Wilbur and he was born in 1947).
If I ever met the man, I'd ask him if he was related to Henry Kaku who I was on the wrestling team with at Cubberley. Henry was the best HS wrestler I ever saw pound for pound...the man never lost I swear. Me, I rarely wrestled varsity (Olmstead always beat me in wrestle offs).
However, as famous as M. Kaku is (I see him on Fox frequently), he's not close to Bill Johnson (Class of 1964) who is the CEO of Heintz Foods in Pittsburgh. Saw Bill interviewed last week on Cavuto's Business show on Fox. Bill sure looks older than me (but he made a lot more money than I have!) He's a '67 grad of Paly.
Johnson's Dad, you pro football afficiandos will remember, was the Bill Johnson on the 49ers who played center for years and later coached the Cincy Bengals (to a Super Bowl one year I think).
Am looking for a Wilbur/Cubberley connection to my college alma mater (Virginia Tech---I'm an MURP, Class of '74). I fear I may be the only Wilbur/Cubberley grad to matriculate at Tech. Sure would like to email anyone else who spent unforgettable years in 24060, where maroon and orange always in in Blacksburg).
My final thoughts on Wilbur and Cubberley are these. For those of you who went to UC, Stanford, etc. you can't appreciate how far ahead those 6 years in the PA school system put you.
For those of you who ventured out of state, you quickly realized that the education you got put you light years ahead of your peers. I went to University of Missouri, Columbia in 1967. As a frosh I was so better prepared in terms of critical thinking, study habits, general knowledge than those who attended HS in the midwest, it wasn't funny. I got a 3.5 first semester and many of them failed/dropped out/ were "asked to leave". At least back then, many had no clue what college held for them...it's a shame since many got drafted. Never stayed in contact with any of them to know.
Virginia Tech was a different story (I was lucky to graduate). Today they wouldn't even think of admitting me. (3.9 GPAs, 1550 combined SATS in the freshman class...)
My favorite Wilbur teacher was Mrs. McGilvery for World Geography and English. She showed me what I was capable of. My first quarter 7th grade I got a D+ in WG, followed that with an A second quarter to salvage a B- for the semester. I really grew to love geography!
Love to walk the campus at Wilbur and Cubberley when I get back to the Bay Area. The memories are around every corner.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2012 at 6:51 am
I had Mrs Acevedo for freshman science at Paly in 1976. I heard the Commie rumors as well, but I'd guess that was just a juicy rumor. Regardless, she was a terrible teacher - pretty spaced out and the kids didn't connect with her at all.
Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 17, 2012 at 8:54 am
Hi Bill, Dave, Alan and everyone,
First, before I forget, and speaking of "rumors," there was a very pretty teacher at Wilbur (Ms. Hampton or Hamilton?) who was rumored to be a former Playboy Bunny. She was very pretty and, unless one of the 7th to 9th-graders came across a Playboy that pictured her, it was probably just a rumor (although she was very attractive).
We really had some stellar teachers back then - I recall my Western Civ teacher, Ms. Heilman, pounding on the podium in her passion for teaching. Mr. Kaplan - everyone loved and asked him to tell one of his "stories." When I went to his celebration of life, I heard one story he never told: He was a war hero and at the risk of his life, went out in front of enemy fire and through his actions, saved his platoon.
Ms McGilvery - I was so fouled up at art and I recall telling her that I'd be an impossible case. One of our first assignments was to draw a road that show distance. I wish I could report that I got it, but whatever it was I had drawn certainly didn't look like a road. But that was the thing about her - she gave me a good grade and I think it was because I had tried, even at the embarrassment of a classroom critique.
One teacher who came across to me at the time, Mr. Palowski, was a little intimidating: A science teacher and on our first day of class, he looked around and told us right up front of what kind of students we were going to be. He also picked out who the smokers were (he looked around and accurately identified those smokers). He also put a scare into us (smokers).
Natasha Gordon and Ms. Harrington (drama) were some of the greatest. I clearly remember a picture in the yearbook showing (can't recall his name, but the one who played) Oliver how to "walk."
We had so much freedom and I recall how on the early, cold winter mornings, we'd stoke up the BB-Q at Mitchell Park to keep us warm while we had our morning smokes (Mr. Leon, Vice Principal) would ride by on his bike and greet us.
Posted by Wilbur, Cubberly alumna, a member of the JLS Middle School community, on Jan 10, 2013 at 9:41 am
Wow. I found this site by searching for Leonard Kaplan. I was thinking about him this morning. School was a terrible experience for me. I hated almost everything about it, but Leonard Kaplan stood out as a teacher who made me admire teachers -- and one of only three teachers whose name I even remembered. I enjoyed his class, and earned an A in it! It's been interesting to read these comments from people who knew him far better than I did. He has always stood out in my memory as decent, fun, and an excellent human being and teacher.
Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm
Hi Alan, Wilbur, Cubberly Alumna (and all),
Sorry, I just now saw your post and your question. I hadn't realized that there was activity.
To answer, we were members of Kol Emeth when they were located in a very old (and dilapidated) building on, I think, Cowper, but it may have been one of the other side streets. On short notice they had to scramble to find another place for Sunday school and for services because the Palo Alto Fire Department found it so unsafe that it was closed almost immediately after an inspection. Thereafter, Sunday school was held (ironically) at the YWCA Building on Alma. Services were held at a local church (I can't recall which one).
After checking out other synagogs (sp?), my parents chose Beth Am. While I certainly wasn't "religious," my evaluation was primarily based on what "refreshments" they had after Friday night services. I wasn't too picky, either. I'd even be happy taking a pocketful of sugar cubes. And yes, I did have Dr. Stanley Levin as a dentist.
I can't say enough good about Mr. Kaplan. We loved him as students and in addition to his public school teaching (both at Wilbur, Cub and Herbert Hoover before it was torn down), he taught both Sunday school and Hebrew School at Beth Am. I was a lousy student, but somehow, he taught me to read Hebrew (but I couldn't translate).
Back to WILBUR: I'll bet that many folks remember Typing Class. Dang, the teacher's name has just eluded me, wait, was it Mr. Jacobson? As soon as he would finish a lesson and we would hit the typing keys, he would turn up the volume to either KYA or KFRC. He felt it was important that folks were able to type with a lot of distraction. When I was tested by the federal government some quarter century ago for a clerk/typist position at the Palo Alto VA Hospital, you had to type at least 45WPM in order to qualify. I had no problem there and credit Mr. Jacobson for his excellent work.
Another person I want to thank, maybe overlooked by most, was Mrs. Gaudux (spelling?). She was the “attendance lady.” If you were ill, you brought your note from one of your parents to her and she’d write an excuse slip for your teacher. One day in 7th grade, my friend from Jordon came over at lunchtime to Wilbur because they had a half a day off. Wanting to get an early start on whatever mischief we were going to get into, he wrote a note, supposedly written by my mom, asking for the rest of the day off because of a dental appointment. Mrs. Gaudux looked at it, looked at me, and she asked in a nice fashion whether I really wanted to submit it. I was too stupid at the time to understand that she was giving me an opportunity to spare myself from what would happen. When I insisted, she said, “okay.” Even though she did call my mom, I see now that she gave me the opportunity to retract the note without getting in trouble.