Away from the all day and all night, pre-kindergarten lives with our families, we learned how to become a part of society. How we lived our McKay Grammar School years helped determine what we knew about the outside world, especially the earlier grades when our eyes were just beginning to open and our actions were forming in reaction to the world. We knew such a small slice of how the world worked. Still, our home away from home was a profound, widely-encompassing experience. We couldn’t put it into perspective until it was well past. We couldn’t until now.
Questions that come to mind are many, and I wonder how other classmates see them? They include:
1. The question of overall grammar school experience. How do we feel about having gone through all the experiences with the people we were with?
2. The question of favorite, most disliked, and most influential teachers.
The question of what ever happened to our teachers? In addition to the multi-year teachers, how about that Navy Pilot who had us for a class and was in the school for only one year?
4. The question of whether or not something specific from those years made us what we are today.
5. The question of how transfer students did, compared to those who were there for all the years.
6. The question of what it meant to be a public school between two catholic schools.
7. The question of our class’ male, athletic success. I seem to remember an athletic male kinship with the class two years ahead of us. In the same way that the class of 1971 beat the class of 1970 during inter-school contest, we would beat the class of 1972 and meet the class of 1971 in the finals.
8. The question of how we began to learn to be independent people.
9. The question of suicide. One of our classmates killed himself. What did it mean to us?
10. The question of who in the heck was Francis McKay?
11. The question of what we are proud of and what we are ashamed of.
12. The question of social class. Our families were not rich, nor destitute. How were our ambitions typical or atypical of the southwest side of Chicago?
13. The question of being a Vietnam War/Post-Vietnam generation. What did we know about war and how did it change us?
14. The question of the free-love, hippy, Woodstock generation’s influence on us.
15. The question of fashion. How do we feel being seein the clothes we were wearing at the time?
16. The question of legal and illegal drugs. (We did listen to Cheech and Chong records in class!)
17. The question of women’s liberation. We turned the motto of a canned vegetable company (‘Libby, Libby, Libby”) into name-calling. What did we really understand?
18. The question of race. Looking at our class picture, I am reminded of our awareness of black and white issues, but I see a fair variety of backgrounds in the faces and names in the class, which I didn’t take into consideration out of childhood ignorance. (During our McKay years, Martin Luther King Jr. was struck in the head by a brick during a Marquette Park march. Also, the so-called Nazi Party, headquartered on 71st street, had an open door policy and organized marches in Skokie).
19 The question of questioning government. Did Watergate change us?
20. The question of what is the value of looking back now.