Tales of Xenia: XHS in the classroom and halls circa 1964-66

10 Dec

I thought Xenia High School was the coolest school building in the world. Being young and fairly ignorant about appreciating architecture, etc., I found the  more modern facilities far superior to the old buildings of East, Lincoln and Central. As I have gotten older myself I realize that I may have subconsciously noticed the marble in the entrance to Central or the gorgeous wooden banister on the stairs at Lincoln, but I was a happening 60’s chick and I did not like any of that old stuff.

The fairly unimaginative boxes that made up the high school with their utilitarian windows and floors planned for easy maintenance seemed modern and hip to me. And, we had two wings, which were even newer than the “new” high school main part. Although we all complained about having to walk so far if you had French in the B wing and some other class in the A wing I think we secretly reveled in the fact the building was so large.

Xenia in those days was probably right around 26,000 souls, and having only one high school full of baby boomers it was a big school. My graduating class was in the neighborhood of 460 people. Presuming that the senior class is smaller than lower grades–since you could drop out at 16 with no penalty, there were probably 1400 to 1800 students in the three grades, 10, 11 and 12 in 1966. It seems to me I remember us being more than 2,000 students, but that may have been my impression rather than accurate.

My favorite teachers at XHS were my French teacher, and I have already chronicled our relationship, my 10th grade Geometry teacher who had, and has a dry sense of humor, and my senior English teacher, Ms. B. Ms. B was cool, she was also inappropriate. She was a young teacher, probably in her early twenties.  Evidently she had once been quite fat but had lost a lot of weight. Given the horror of being fat that was and still is to an extent, present among white women, it was no surprise that her parents had bribed her into losing weight by promising to buy her a new wardrobe. In my senior year sweater sets, a fine gauge sweater and a cardigan in the same color, were all the rage. They were not cheap, I think I had two sets. Ms. B had about twenty sets, one in each color made.

She had shoes that matched as well. This is before we had DSW or any other shoe outlet. Orange shoes, turquoise shoes, etc, were only made by manufacturers like Capezio and they were quite expensive. The fact that she had purple shoes to match her purple sweater set sent a very strong message that someone in her sphere had some serious money.

Unfortunately, perhaps because she had been a chubby chick when she was in high school and had missed out on a social life, decided that she wanted to be not just our teacher, but our friend. She particularly wanted to be the friend of the handsome boys in our class. I do not know for a fact that Ms. B had an inappropriate relationship with any of her male students, but I did hear her asking them on more than one Friday what they were planning on doing for the weekend. Oddly enough I never heard her ask any of the females in the class.

Students and teacher relationships were not that uncommon at XHS. I know at least two male educators who married female students shortly after graduation. Ms. B did not end up married to a student, at least I do not think so. The year after I graduated she was caught with the football coach in the teacher’s lounge doing the horizontal hula and she was fired. He was not, of course, the prevailing wisdom of the time being that he was just being a man while she was the one doing something immoral. I have often wondered what became of her.

My least favorite teacher was my world history teacher, and the basketball coach, Mr.K. He was not a very smart man which was patently obvious in a lot of ways. For example, I worked for him as an office aide before I realized what a moron he was. He would have me type up the tests for our class. He was a serious racist and I presume he thought that since I was black I would not remember the questions I had typed. I remember when we studied Egypt and it intruded on my consciousness for the first time that Egyptians were Africans. I raised my hand and asked Mr. K. “What race were the Egyptians?” he smiled indulgently at me and said, “Caucasians.”

My next least favorite person was my sophomore Biology teacher, not that he was a bad teacher, but he regaled us frequently with the woes of his life and confessed he actually wanted to be a farrier, not a teacher. There were a couple of advantages to his self-absorption. First, he was terribly afraid of bugs, so we never did anything with insects. Second, he was always seemingly in the brink of a breakdown himself so he was very sympathetic to any real or feigned illness. I had a classmate, Peggy, who could faint on demand. I mean really faint. She would turn bright pink, her eyes would roll back in her head and she would slither out of her molded plastic chair gracefully onto the floor. Our teacher would immediately stop class, pick her up and run for the office. We got out of a lot of quizzes that year thanks to Peggy.

I had a love/hate relationship with one of the teachers who was also the mayor of Xenia at one point. Ms. H was a dreadfully homely, but very fashionable woman. She spent most of her time telling people in the hall not to touch each other and giving lectures on what “proper young ladies do” or in some cases  don’t do. I admired the fact that she was a woman politician, something of an anomaly in the mid 1960’s, but I disliked her smug chastisements about proper behavior, especially between girls and boys. My own theory was that she did not want us holding hands because she had never been able to convince any man to touch her.

Our teachers were not perfect, but they were real people, not what they seemingly want teachers to be now, non-entities with no personal lives and no opinions, at least none that they share with their students. That is a shame. I doubt students will have memories, fond or otherwise of teachers they truly do not know anything about.  I will take my flawed but genuine teachers, warts and all. They made a lasting impression.


Posted by on December 10, 2010 in Education, Xenia


10 responses to “Tales of Xenia: XHS in the classroom and halls circa 1964-66

  1. Miriam Mann Harris

    December 10, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Brings back memories of my high school days, teachers always afraid a boy and girl might touch each other. It is soooo funny now, but I finished in 1952, so you can imagine how “supervised we were-:)

  2. Megan Germano

    December 10, 2010 at 2:40 am


  3. richard

    December 10, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Well cuz i graduted in 58 but of course I went to school in NYC, Queens, My school was brick and huge built by the WPA; we had a swimming pool so swimming class was required. Guys went swimming au naturel.Somewhat embrassing ,because we were about 13 or 14 ,some different guys were differently matured.Thak heavens for water.There were about 3500 students in the school. My graduating class was about 700. Dropouts usually happened before senior year.
    Again my school was completly integreted as I said earlier there were about 30% African American maybe a bit more. As to touching betwenn boys and girls well ,in gym class we had “social dancing”,boys and girls danced with each other,African Americans and whites danced together, more often than not assigned by the teacher.

    The school was four stories and boys and girls could be found “making out”under the staircase.There were between 8-10 stair cases.
    There was unrest from time to time.some said it was racial but there was never a situation where people were attacked randomly by others because of their color.
    Fighting would go on between some Blacks and whites ,but as this went on other Blacks and whites maintained their friendship,openly.
    We did not have a football team so our major sport was basketball and everyone played by merit.The team was generally intergreted all four years. Because I knew all the players and played with them in the gym I believe everyone Black or white played because they earned it.

  4. Valerie Vandevier Rexrode

    January 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Minerva. As I said in an earlier reply to a different blog, I am just now reading many of your older blogs. I know you always refer to people by initials, such as “Ms. H” & hope it is alright for me to add my comments using full name. Ms. H, I have to assume, is Olive Houston? Right out of high school I worked at Hospitality Home East, where Olive Houston resided. I was 18 years old. People there told me she had once been the Mayor of Xenia. She was a very proper woman. I once took her meal to her, these meals served on a tray. As I stepped into her room, I said “I have your supper for you.” She said “Supper. Such a funny word.” I believe I asked, what would you call it? She said in her proper tone, “Dinner.” I never forgot that. One Christmas Eve, they had a small gathering of the residents there in the main room. Olive Houston read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” aloud. Hearing her voice, seeing this woman now aged, it really stayed with me. She was a fine woman. It has to be difficult to find oneself in a nursing facility when you realize you can no longer care for yourself. It was unimaginable to me, at the age of 18! I am enjoying your blogs. Thanks for allowing me to share my own memories.

    • minerva5

      January 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Hello! Glad you are enjoying the blog, it is great fun writing it. Sometimes I start a post and it goes in an entirely different way. By the way, I am Cookie Mann Newsom, Minerva was my nickname in Elementary school!:-)

      Dr. Cookie Newsom

      • Valerie Vandevier Rexrode

        January 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm

        Cookie it is! I am really enjoying your blog, & your wonderful memories. I live in Florida now. We lived in Xenia just 10 short years, but I have only warm & wonderful memories of my days living in Xenia. In one of your blogs you mentioned IT Pizza. Was that in downtown Xenia? Kind of near a grocery store? I am remembering that name, but not sure I am remembering the right location. Did they also serve broasted chicken there? One of my first apts was on 3rd St. in Xenia. I would walk to that pizza place (If that was in fact, IT Pizza) There was also a deli nearby. A woman named Ruth ran it with her husband. They had the best Colby cheese! You can’t get anything close to that cheese today! Xenia had that old time atmosphere, with their storefronts downtown. It was a big thing to me back then, to walk to town, & window shop. I bought my first make-up at Rite-Aid, also bought my many Beatle albums there! Thank you Cookie! Have you returned to Wilberforce?

      • Valerie Vandevier Rexrode

        January 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm

        Cookie it is then! However did you get the nickname Minerva?

        We lived just 10 years in Xenia, & all my memories are warm & wonderful. You mentioned IT Pizza in one of your blogs. Was that in downtown Xenia, & kind of near a grocery store? (perhaps a block from a grocery store- not a Kroger’s, can’t recall the name now) Did they also serve broasted chicken there? Gosh they had the best pizza there, if this is the place I am recalling! Your memories were just wonderful to read. I loved reading about the parties you had at home when you were a teen. Those were wonderful years. Did you return to Wilberforce?

      • minerva5

        January 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm

        Yes, I live in Wilberforce. When we studied mythology in 6th grade we learned Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, my classmates decided I was the smartest in the class ergo Minerva.IT was on Main Street across from Lang’s Chevrolet. Not sure about the broad red chicken, that was the specialty of Nick’s Restaurant out on North Detroit.

        Sent from my iPhone

      • Valerie Vandevier Rexrode

        January 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm

        Sorry for the duplicate entries. This got hung up & it appeared that it hadn’t been sent, so I sent another. Hence, different wordage. Interesting about your name Minerva. I am sure that IT Pizza is the one I am recalling. Also I remember “World Wide Lunch” on 68, across from OSSO Home. Thanks for helping my memory banks. I left Xenia in 1976, so my memories are a bit rusty. You said that sometimes you write & then “it will go in an entirely different way “. I sure identify with that! Your blog is wonderful, it has brought back so many memories for me. Thank you!

      • minerva5

        January 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm


        Dr. Cookie Newsom


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