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12/05/19 05:02 PM #921    

Paul Lavik

I can't believe it took Allan Grigsby's passing to draw me into this. My time in Shaker was a mixed bag, and with faculty like O'Rourke and Grigsby, it is a wonder that any of us went on to school. The upside for me was a friend, Linda Kramer who I walked to school with many a morning, and Marty Meshenberg (sorry, I still can't spell) who taught me how to be a student. But back to Grigsby, he was probably right, in that the best predictor of future human behavior turns out to be past behavior, and with mild dyslexia and a variety of soft neurological deficiencies (like having only half brain as my wife tells me) I did not have an academic record anyone wants to show off. But population-based projections do not apply to individual cases and we are each, an individual case. I was the product of family of late-blooming Norwegians. My father was a preacher's kid born in Camrose, Alberta who married my mother after attending a Norwegian-Lutheran college in Minnesota, St. Olaf College. (As a side note, Norwegians always viewed women as equal and most saw to it that their daughters were educated. My grandmother Lavik was a college graduate as was my mother, all of my aunts, uncles counsins and siblings.).Grigsby did not understand families or imigrant stories. My father started out teaching high school, got a PhD in biochemistry from the U. of Wisconsin when they were discovering vitamins, came to Cleveland after the war, grew up doing research in radiation biology , got his MD along the way, and retired as a radiation oncologist from the Cleveland Clinic. I remember walking home after Grigsby told me I had no future thinking what a fool he was for saying such a thing to the son of any parents with the number of graduate degrees my parents had earned, even if their son was a loser. 

Some families take a slower path. I was saved, in a way, by the war in Nam because it gave me time to grow up. I got a Ph.D. in psychology, so I could figure myself out (I think most psychologists are probably head cases, at least a bit!). I realized that what mommy had always taught was true, money does not buy happiness, to your own self be true, and that family matters. I was never a shooting star, but I wanted to do the best I could by my kids. They are all happily married. Oh, and they all have Ph.D.s in bio-medical research, the boys both have MD's as well, and our daughter brought a computer geek into the family. Every family needs a computer geek. So what is success in life? You tell me. I'm too busy playing with my grandkids (The other gift of having been a psychologist who worked with lots of kids, it seeing, with wonder, how they unfold and grow. They are so amazing. They learn, to speak, to by nice, to hate and to cheat, just by watching us. Not only are they interesting, little kids are easy for grandpas to impress!)

The bottom line is that guy like Grigsby piss us off enough so that we learn to persevers, fight back, and prove that we are not f _ _ _ups. Thanks Allan. Sorry to the rest of you for that rant. Old wounds never heal!

12/05/19 11:17 PM #922    

Joseph G Blake

I have this memory of Mr Grigsby. He could be easily flustered or embarassed. His face would turn almost scarlet. We used to have counseling classes on Friday to tell us about college applications as I recall. Some may recall John Corlett and Harvey Oppman. Both are no longer with us.

One day John got the idea about how to fluster Mr Grigsby. There was a janitor named Leroy who was carrying a long ladder used to change light bulbs.You will recall the ceilings were high and the windows very long. That was common before WW2 to increase light in the rooms because lighting was less effective then. 

John and Harvey got Leroy to give them the ladder and they came into the counseling class and decided to climb up the ladder and change the light bulb. Obvioulsy Mr Grigsby turned deep red because he could not handle the unexpected very well. 

John Corlett then turned on this sweet charm and talked himself out of being reported. Somehow in less than 5 minutes they were in and then out of the room. And Grigsby survived the experience none the worse for wear. 

My experience with him was professional. The one recollection I have about the counseling class is tragic. I had the class just after lunch. On Friday November 22, 1963 I was in the class when Mr Rupp annonced over the speaker system that President Kennedy had been shot and followed in a few minutes that he died. When we went to the last class of the day, the hallways were silent. No one talked despite the large number of people in the hallways. One could say we were all stunned. 

12/06/19 08:29 AM #923    

Paul Lavik

I confess that I'm a little, or should I say, a lot, embarrassed by my rant, and am disappearing again. One of the alarming things about getting older is that I find my fingers and my brain sometimes outpace my judgement. Enjoy your remininsicing.

12/06/19 08:51 AM #924    

Stewart M Flate

We all must remember that many of us were frustrated, knowingly or unknowingly, that Shaker High had a program that basically said my way or the highway. I don't think they meant any harm, but you either fit into their expectations, which many did, or they had better places to spend their resources.

12/06/19 11:39 AM #925    


Dana Shepard (Treister)

Fascinating to read my classmates' recollections of their interactions with our guidance counselors - I remember nothing specific at all about mine - except I do recall we were each to select 3 colleges - a "reach", a "safety", and an "in-between".  I assumed this was a non-negotiable universal protocol, so was surprised when our sons' college counselor in the late '80s - early '90s was far less rigid with the numbers and categories; and by the time our grandchildren were applying within the past few years, the process of where to apply seemed to have become almost random!  Of course each generation has had access to so many more methods of vetting colleges and universities than has the preceding generation - our children had the Yale Student Guide, and our grandchildren have... the internet and social media...


I wanted to share this witty Calvin Trillin New Yorker essay about alumni updates (NO reflection on SHHS 64 of course...)!!

Class Notes

Illustration by Luci Gutiérrez

There’s beaucoup news this month about the Class of 1993, topped by the happy tidings that Jack Beckerston, known to most of us as the Beckster, has finally been transferred from the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta to the less rigid Federal Correctional Institution near Marianna, Florida, which he describes as more comfortable than his freshman dorm. The new digs are an easy drive from the Gulf Coast, and the Beckster invites any ’93ers travelling in that area to drop by. (Visitor regulations and hours are available at Ever the jokester—he has always maintained that what he refers to as “the so-called Ponzi scheme” was a prank—Jack added a P.S. to his letter which reads, “No hacksaws, please.”

An e-mail from Kimberly Connelly carries the disappointing news that her latest door-to-door beauty product, a cream for fighting cellulite, called Cell-No-More, attracted the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, “and not in a pleasant way.” When all was said and done, Kimberly had to file for bankruptcy—her fourth. She plans to start again with a different cellulite-fighting formula but with the same motto: “Keep those dimples on your face where they belong.” Investors welcome, as usual.

Ralph Hawkins reports on a sort of mini-reunion of ’93ers in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, attended by himself, Rich Adams, Sam Miller, Frank Milledge, Ralph Burnside, Mike Clark, and Paul Smith. “The alma mater was sung,” Ralph writes, “although we might have been a bit fuzzy on the second verse, when we were almost drowned out by the sirens.” The lawsuit concerning the damage to two motel rooms may be heading for arbitration, Ralph writes, and it’s hoped that the judgment will not be large enough to affect alumni donations. Happily, no criminal charges were filed.

Fred Carson has fled the country.

More good news from one of the legal beagles of the class: Clem Howard writes from Oregon that, upon appeal, his disbarment has been reduced to what he describes as “a strong censure with conditions,” which will allow his law practice to continue. The principal condition is that when he meets with a female client a third party must be in the room. Clem writes, “I can certainly live with that condition, particularly if the third party is a chick of considerable hotness.”

We have what may be a first this month—the first example of one ’93er firing another. Tom Weber, who worked as an assistant sales manager for Gilbert & Parsons One-Coat Paint, was axed by Gilbert & Parsons C.E.O. Pam Hawkinson, who writes that she should have known better than to hire the man who, at the “Not the Class Day” high jinks on the evening before our actual Class Day, was given the award for graduating with the most pages of assigned reading left unread. (“He has the get-up-and-go of a tree stump.”) Tom, who is considering a wrongful-termination suit under the Civil Rights Act (“She has an unreasoned hatred of Dekes”), writes that the working conditions at Gilbert & Parsons “compared unfavorably with those of the Gulag” and included the mandatory singing each morning of the Gilbert & Parsons song (“More than just a single coat is what we ain’t / ’Cause we’re Gilbert & Parsons One-Coat Paint”)—a requirement that he calls “demeaning, not to mention consistently off-key.”

From Stephanie Green, we’ve received an update from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on the Class of 1993 club that was formed there last year once the aforementioned Clem Howard ascertained that there is no extradition treaty between Burkina Faso and the United States. There are now eight ’93ers in Ouagadougou, and all of them show up on the third Tuesday of every month for a Class of 1993 lunch of riz gras, the national dish of Burkina Faso. The club extends a welcome to any ’93er who happens to be travelling in that area, particularly on a third Tuesday.

From Alabama, Jack McPherson writes that he has now been divorced five times. We’re calling that a Class record until we hear otherwise.

Speaking of Class meals, we remind you that the annual Class dinner will be held on September 28th, back on campus. The charge is seventy-five dollars per person, and that includes the meal and an open bar. Only cash or certified checks will be accepted. Dean Augustus Gillis will be speaking after dinner on the topic “A College Degree as the First Step Toward Leading a Successful Life.” ♦



12/06/19 12:01 PM #926    


Alaina Weisman (Zachary)

12/06/19 12:04 PM #927    


Alaina Weisman (Zachary)

I wanted to weigh in on the college submission discussion.  I never understood why we were limited to three submissions and wondered whose decision that was.  Fooey.  I got accepted by all and took the one farthest from Shaker. Boston University.  It was a great place to spend the remainder of the 60's and begin my performance career which is still going strong.  And may I add, thank goodness for acting union pensions!

12/06/19 02:05 PM #928    


Evie Fertman (Braman)

Paul Lavik, please do not disappear!!  You and I didn't know each other in school and now I've finally met you!!  One of the many great things about this forum and our Reunions is that we are connecting to each other after so many years and are finding that we shared so many experiences.  We were not as alone as we sometimes felt.  The first five year Reunion that we have ever had took place this August, 2019.  Each event brought in 100 of our classmates who had a great time.  I've heard from so many of the attendees that it was so great to have the opportunity to get to know old friends better and to make friends with people who they never knew before.  We switched the more formal night to Friday night and the casual night to Saturday night which most people said was a great way to do it.  Anyway, Paul, look at the conversation that you started , I'm grateful that you did and gave me and others a change to vent!!  Please keep bringing up anything that comes to mind!

12/06/19 03:42 PM #929    


Alan L Farkas

Paul, I want to echo Evelyn's sentiments. i found your "rant" to be quite interesting. Thank you for sharing your story.


12/06/19 05:09 PM #930    

Joseph G Blake

I have to share Dana's experience both as a Shaker student and a parent. In 1963 I still did what I was told and knew the expectations. Shaker Heights was an unusual place for many reasons but its obvious affluence created expectations that were decidedly unique for that time. 

90% of our class went to college then and that was a time when the college bound was a much smaller group than now by many factors. My family ( namely my mother) lived in Shaker for 61 years (1928-1989) through the three stages of Shaker life- the two family phase as newlyweds, then the 50 years in a home where you raised your children, and the widow phase where you lived comfortably and safely in an apartment on upper Van Aken.   

But there was always an unstated expectation shaped by what your parents did, who the neighbors were and what they did and perhaps worse yet what your older simblings did. I always took for granted what would happen next. But I was also much younger than my siblings who were adults by the time I was at Shaker. I knew my father was exceptionally pleased with two of them. One was on Wall Street after Wharton and the other had founded her own business. 

In some ways one wanted to break out of the mold and I managed that in some ways but still there was the expectation.  They always set the benchmark or hurdle against which I measured myself plus the peer pressure of what your friends did or the neighbors. Everyone was educared and successful. 

Today I still feel that I underperformed compared to the implicit expectation shaped then. 

As Dana mentioned we applied to three schools which always seemed perfectly sensible. I suspect that the standard of three was set by what the school thought it had the personnel to manage the process and the admissions game was not so competitive. Legacies mattered a lot and obviously did you fit the school's profile etc.

Years later when my four children went to college each applied to 6 to 8 schools as advised by their schools. They all went to private boarding schools. So the schools were all very competitive. 

We have yet to see a grandchild get to the college application process. We hope to see some of them graduate from high school. But my one granddaughter lives in NYC and the process for just an elemenrary school seemed daunting.Her parents looked at both private and public options.Their "safety" was a private school and then the process of finding a public school in Manhattan. They finally got the right brass ring at a public school. Another family member (cousin) also in Manhattan bought a condo in a school district whcih he knew to be the best public elementary school in the city. I know it all sounds like one of those absurd movies about the young yuppies fearful their child won't get into Harvard. Its not quite that bad. 

I suppose I should ask is this my fault, is this a legacy of living well in Shaker, or just being very ambitious and what we do to ourselves? 

But I do believe what you do to educate your chidlren be it picking schools, encouraging them through tough times and unqualified love, it will be the best "investment" you will make or did make. 

I am grateful every day that my children seem to be well positioned to do for their children what I tried to do for them and what my parents did for me. Hopefully they will contribute to society and give more than they take. That will please my mother.

Final story. My father never looked at the bills. My mother did all that from an allowance she received from the company every month for too many years.  But he did pay the big ticket items like cars, tuitions, weddings and new kitchens ( my mother had three- 1930, 1948 and 1963 because always home oriented but no mink coat.). One time my tuition plus room and board was due. I was asked by my mother to get the check from my father. I went to his office and he handed me the check to give my mother to mail it. He gave me the check and I noted the amount. He then added, "I hope you can do this or your son some day." Some months later he bought a new station wagon. The cost was the same as my full year at college (around $3,000).

Needless to say every time I wrote the tuition checks for my children the remark my father made was in my head. Sometimes I laughed and others times I asked why me. I also recall that one time when I  got the check from him, he had a big glass of scotch on the desk. I understand why.

Many years later my niece was graduating from college (circa 1988) and I asked how much a full year was. I had just bought a Volvo wagon and the cost was the same.( around $17,000) I recalled the comparison in 1967. Today that benchmark no longer works. Private colleges are now the same as a BMW 500 series. And that may say a lot about the challenge of education costs now versus then ( 1960s or 1990s).  I have a Kenyon College key chain. Occasionally someone will ask about it. "Did you go to Kenyon?" I reply ,  "No, my daughter did and this is my $120,000 key ring." I suspect many of you may have had the same experience. 






12/07/19 11:33 AM #931    


William J Lavin

Joe, your last comment made me laugh.  My sister, who was two years behind us at Shaker (and who graudated from Mayfield Hts. High once my parents moved during her senior year...but her Shaker class still thinks she graduated with them and keep sending her reunion invitations) had all three of her children in college at one time.  She still refers to the picture of the three of them, each wearing their college sweatshirt, as her $100,000 family portrait.

12/07/19 12:08 PM #932    

Joseph G Blake

Oh yes, Paul I remember. We did plan very well and I recall two years where I had three tuitions to pay. 

I once told someone it was like buying a Rolex wrist watch every month but never getting the watch. 

12/07/19 12:59 PM #933    


Neil T Glazer


 I have seen the Shaker schools both fom the outside (as a student) and from the inside as a former Shaker teacher, Assistant Principal of Shaker High, and Principal of Shaker Middle School (Byron Junior High). I am convinced that our classmates success is more a reflection of our home-life and parents committment to the importance of a quality education than to the school district.

Most of the credit for my Ph.D goes to my grandparents and parents who always reminded me that in life you can have most everything taken away EXCEPT your education. They lost everything in the German and Poland concentration camps but their education couldn't be taken away.

A good lesson.


12/07/19 03:48 PM #934    


Paige Fields (Hoebel)

There is so much truth and sweet albit difficult memories in all that everyone is posting.  Neil is right - everything but your education can be taken away.  Evie is right that our reunions have been special bringing people we care about close and brining unknown classmates happily into our lives.  Each of us has our memories and we all thought that we walked alone - we now know differently.  What I learned a very long time ago is as we age we feel content and know we lived the best life we could.  Shaker was very competitive, life is very competiive, I have no desire to go back and am curious about the future.  Life - not SHHS prepared me for that.

12/08/19 12:21 AM #935    


Craig Miller

I’ll weigh in on Allen Grigsby, too. His advice to me in school was to be an accountant somewhere as my people skills were lacking and my academic record was rather shaky. I followed my father’s advice instead, and jumped into the Navy to grab a “kiddie cruiser” spot and grow up. Three years of active duty and done for good. That turned out to be a god send as Vietnam hit the proverbial fan. I will carry memories of that appalling waste of lives and fortune to the grave. But enough of that.

My skills in the Navy translated into something my parents never heard of, a computer systems manager. My mother was very direct. “What the Hell is that? It isn’t law. It isn’t medicine. It isn’t business.” (The Big Three). Some people are hard to please. So, I was a geek before the term became fashionable. Something Allen Grigsby would have had to learn.

Fast forward several years in the “burbs” and my wife, daughter and I found ourselves in Mesopotamia, Ohio in an Amish community in an Amish built house with one gorgeous barn. The registered cows outnumbered the registered voters. My daughter, who was eleven at the time, took all this in stride, jumped into 4-H with a passion and dragged home goats, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats and one forlorn gecko. My wife’s love of gardening and herbs only enhanced my daughter’s love of animals and nature. As for me, I was a geek during working hours and a farmer afterwards.

Fast forward again, and I’m retired (and widowed). I’ve given up my geekiness as it is a young person’s game. I don’t need the pressure cooker demands of a computer world.  Meanwhile, my daughter is pursuing her dream in permaculture and finishing her degree in botany in Visby, Sweden. Which also includes a Swedish husband, his daughters, in-laws, and, of course dogs, cats, snakes, lizards and one forlorn gecko. Visiting that gang is a "trip", in every sense of the word.

So, Mr. Grigsby, wherever you are, I’m sorry to have disappointed you. I followed the advice of another counselor, instead. A counselor of the human spirit, Robert Frost.

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

12/08/19 11:45 AM #936    

Joseph G Blake

These comments are all pertinent and beautiful. 

12/08/19 01:34 PM #937    


Evie Fertman (Braman)

Craig Miller, thank you for letting me meet you through your post in this Forum! I didn't know you in high school and again, I feel that I have missed out on someone who is terrific!  Your writing is beautiful, interesting and entertaining and most likely is a reflection on who you are.  I'm loving meeting classmates here on the Forum and at Reunions!  Thanks for adding to the comments.

12/08/19 01:52 PM #938    


Marianne Coplan (Schapiro)

OK--one more contribution to the college counseling discussion: I'm not sure I ever met for college counseling with Miss (Mrs?) Bramer. On the recommendation of my voice teacher, I had spent the summer after my junior year at Indiana University School of Music in the collegiate credit program. After that magical summer--that included singing in the chorus of a grand outdoor production of "Aida,"-- I never even looked at another school, and was accepted early at IU. What's odd is that my older son, (now 35), also did a high school summer program--at Savannah College of Design--and that became HIS first and only choice. My other son ended up in the journalism school at Indiana himself, and loved it too. By the time my boys were ready to apply to colleges, most of their classmates were applying to MANY schools, often with considerable anxiety and stress. My dad (whose Cleveland Scholarship Program helped send thousands of Cleveland kids to college) always said it didn't matter so much where you went to college; what mattered as how well you did wherever you were.

Both my sons chose well: Mike, the older one who went to SCAD, is an-award winning sound designer/editor in LA, and Aaron, my fellow IU grad, is an art director at Leo Burnett advertising in Chicago.

Cheers to all my classmates-Marianne Coplan Schapiro

12/08/19 08:39 PM #939    

Jonathan D Kent

Those of us who are parents know the value of their guidance and expectations as a large factor in subsequent success.  However, I have to say that Neil Glazer's take our formation processes gives a bit too little credit to the role that inspiring and caring teachers played.  I know that my own education would not have been nearly as effective if not for those teachers who really did inspire my work ethic and intellect. In today's climate, I feel it is important to acknowledge the value of such professionals and not relegate them to playing a minor role. What they did was not parenting, it was teaching, and I am glad I experienced it.

12/09/19 11:30 AM #940    


Betsy Dennis (Frank)

Marianne, I couldn't agree more. The college, itself, doesn't matter so much as what you with the education. I have taught mostly first generation college students at regional universities. Many have gone on to great achievements. Such a wonderful discussion!

12/09/19 04:37 PM #941    

Gary D Hermann

A very iinteresting conversation.    I think that there are many different things that influence us.   For immature kids like me, Shaker was a bit overwhelming, but two Shaker teachers, Robert Burnett and Marty Meshenberg, ended up having a huge influence on me and laid the groundwork for my academic success in college and law school  Both spent a lot of time with me outside of class giving me some direction on basic things like note taking, how to study, etc..   On the other hand, it was my mother, not Mr. Grigsby, who pointed me in the direction of a small liberal arts college (Hiram College), which turned out to be a great choice for me.  I was generally an academic screw off until my senior year and, because I had few college options, I had originally planned to attend a state school.  My mother later told me that she steered me towards a small liberal arts college because she had concluded that I would have likely flunked out of a big school and that a small school, with small classes and less bad influences, would likely turn me into a real student.    

As it turned out, Hiram, though fairly easy to be admitted to, was a school with pretty high academic standards---which I later learned was very respected by graduate schools and that no doubt helped me to be admitted to Northwestern University Law School, where I did very well.    It was also an eye-opener for me because most of the students came from very humble roots and had attitudes that people from "elite" neighborhoods and schools did not fully understand or appreciate.   The vast majority of the students either grew up on a farm, had parents who worked as laborers in various factories or mills, or were teachers, and they clearly had attitudes that I neither understood or appreciated.  I will never forget my first week at school when people mocked me because I came from Shaker Heights, assuming I was a spoiled rich kid (I quickly started to say "Cleveland" when people asked me where I came from).  A humbling experience, but it did make me look at people as individuals and not make assumptions about them because of their roots or socio-economic background. 

I also believe that parents today put too much emphasis on the name of the school their children attend and, though some "prestige" schools do open a few doors initially, Marianne's father comment about what you do with your education is what ultimately matters.   I would add one other thing:  the best schools are the ones that make a student interested in continuing to learn.  The World is always changing and those who continue to learn, both inside and outside their chosen field, and even after they retire, have the best chance of a successful and happy life.



12/10/19 03:22 PM #942    


Betsy Dennis (Frank)

Gary, Mr Burnett was one of my favorite teachers. I learned format from him and my students have suffered for that. I am a format nut. LOL, Betsy

12/11/19 06:12 PM #943    

Gary D Hermann

I realize that Mr. Burnett mean a lot to many of his students.  Back in 1972, when I was in Indianapolis to attend branch school for the U.S. Army, I visited him in Boswell, Indiana where he grew up and was living at the time.  He had an office/extra bedroom which was filled with letters from his former students, mostly with names I recognized from my time at Shaker--some school leaders or high achievers, but many others who were like me. 

I think he saw something in me that I did not see and, in hindsight, I think I became one of his personal projects--a low achieving student who had some potential.    I recall the class I was in was filled with mostly National Merit finalists and semi-finalists with the exception of 3 other students and me (we referred to ourselves as the dumb kids).  He often invited me after school to his apartment near Shaker Square (which he did with many others) where he tried to change my view that poetry was "stupid" and of no value (he won: I read poetry to my wife on our wedding night).  It is amazing what a devoted and talented teacher like Mr. Burnett could do to change a life. 

I, for one, think it is great that you have perpetuated Mr. Burnett's format rules.    Some day, your students will realize that you have provided them a special gift.    As a lawyer, I was absolutely amazed at the poor quality of writing that I routinely saw  from young lawyers, especially during the past 20 years and even from graduates of Ivy League and other so-called "elite" schools.  Of course, I drove my own children crazy with Mr. Burnett's writing rules once I discovered (mostly when they were applying to college) that they needed to improve on their writing.  Since then, they have come to realize that being a good writer gives them a great competitive advantage. 

12/12/19 01:28 PM #944    

Joseph G Blake

Ditto to all the comments about Mr Burnett. He still stands out in memory almost every few days because of how he taought me to write a simple sentence, a long standing interest in poetry and in general an appreciation of the written word. We live in an age that uses spellcheck all too readily and may not always appreciate that the changes suggested are also wrong.

12/13/19 09:42 AM #945    


Marianne Coplan (Schapiro)

I stayed in touch with Mr. Burnett via annual holiday notes, until I received notice that he had died. Shortly after I moved to Chicago, he insisted on driving up from his town in Indiana and taking me to lunch at the Art Institute. We had a lovely time. I too have used his rules--and passed many of them on to my boys. And I can still recite some of the poems he had us memorize. Great memories.

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