In the fall of 1968 my parents decide to transfer their children from the parochial to the public schools. I was very excited at the prospect of spending my sixth grade year at Hillcrest School along with all of the other neighborhood kids. I had attended a couple of their PTA Halloween parties where parents make homemade popcorn balls, taffy apples and cookies and the fire escape slide turns into a haunted tunnel for one magical night. This was the school for me!
The year I attend Hillcrest, I’m not even in the actual school except for lunch and gym. All 43 sixth-graders are crammed into “The Portable”, a modular trailer where under our teacher Larry Duhamell we learn about the Nixon-Humphrey-Wallace presidential race, make 6-8 minute speeches (mine was on the space program), mourn the passing of Ike and produce a school play where I nab the bit part of the messenger who brings important news to the king.
Through the “Alumni of Hillcrest Elementary” facebook page Tammy Mitchell Lemke ’73 and Jan Flohr Huguenard ’73, plan an all-school reunion. Tammy places an ad in the Waynedale News to get the word out to area alums. As fortune would have it Mr. Duhamell and his bride of fifty years Donna happened to stop by Rich’s Café for breakfast. While searching the WN for their church ad, Larry stumbles across Tammy’s announcement. Tammy busy at her work up in Sussex, Wisconsin is shocked to get a call from everyone’s favorite Hillcrest teacher informing her he will attend.
Sadly the reunion cannot be held at the school, so on a sunny August Saturday former students travel from as far away as Tennessee, Wisconsin and Tampa, Florida to meet at Lakeside Park to share their photos and memories. Classes from the 1940s through the 1970s are represented. None of my classmates attend, but I do meet alums who remember my younger brothers and sister.
When Larry and Donna Duhamel arrive there is an instant swarm to greet them. He recognizes many of his former students and is eager to learn what we have all been doing with ourselves. Mr. Duhamell taught at Hillcrest from 1965-1973. After he left Hillcrest and after a short stint at the Title 1 program he is the principal at Ward, Glenwood and Waynedale Elementary schools, where he touches many more young lives.
The day is full of “do you recognize this kid?” “Do you remember when…” and “Jeff was so cute”. Photos are taken to commemorate the day and are posted on the Facebook page. Everyone has a good time and hope that one day we will all reunite again. We are like a patchwork quilt, each of us a small piece united together to form the face and character of Hillcrest School.
Reunite, convene, gather: On Labor Day Weekend the Macedonian Patriotic Organization will hold its 91st Convention celebrating its 90th Anniversary at the Downtown Hilton/Grand Wayne Center. This fun-filled event is open to the public. Nightly dances, workshops and the rededication of the MPO world headquarters at 124 West Wayne Street are just a few of the planned activities. This is a great time to learn about Macedonian culture and history. Macedonian costumes will be on display. For a schedule of events and ticket information go to www.macedonian.org
Lois Eubank is the owner of Born Again Quilts a quilt restoration studio and gallery. She may be reached at www.bornagainquilts.com.