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On September 4, 2010, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

On the Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

A former classmate of mine got my e-mail address from this article and we started corresponding.  We both graduated from the Western Junior High School in 1968. ( the last graduating class before the big fire) He graciously sent me a copy of our graduation picture, you know, the ones that are all rolled up?  I can’t believe we were ever that young.  We thought were so old and mature, but we were really still children. I got several lumps in my throat when I saw the faces of some friends who are no longer with us. But after unearthing a slew of memories, I got to thinking about how the fashions have changed.   First of all, where the hell did those clothes come from? 

Some of mine came from The Truc in Harvard Square.  Most came from Robert Hall, Kresge’s, Zayres and JM Fields. We were a big Anderson Little family. I know for a fact that a few cool  kid’s shirts came from Mickey Finn’s in Davis Square.  My desert boots were purchased at Thom McCann’s.   A lot of us guys wore those beige suede bucks with the pinkish rubber soul and heel. I actually have had a pair of those throughout my entire life. The really cool dudes had black, shiny pointed black boots with a “Cuban heel”.  I think the nickname we had for those kids were “ rats”. We called their boots fence climbers, and they packed a mean kick. Then along came Beatle Boots. The O’Neil brothers had them.  I think you had to go to some store in Central Square to get those babies. Some of us got taps put on down at the cobbler. Remember putting dimes in our penny loafers?  I recall having to beg my parents for almost every piece of cool clothing I got. It was always the complete opposite of what they tried to stick me with.

The hairstyles really changed!  Miss Charlton had this up sweep do that was kind of like a bee hive.  Maybe they called it a bouffant? She was gorgeous. Too bad we were her very first class ever.  We terrorized the poor thing. What an introduction to teaching. I’m amazed she didn’t change careers after that year. Miss Hagerty  not only  had the bee hive “thang” going on , but she drove a blue Mustang with a white convertible top. She was probably the coolest teacher I ever had, plus she was nice to us kids. She taught me all the French I know.  Ooh la la ! The girls wore a variety of hairstyles ranging from page boys to those that flipped at the shoulder. I don’t know the correct name for that style but they all looked great. The smell of Aqua-Net hairspray can still bring me back. There were a lot of those headbands and barrettes in style in 1968. There were a few real knock-outs among the 9th grade girls. These young ladies were in an elite group I call “the untouchables.” They were definitely out of my league.

Some guys had the sideburn thing going on. I was jealous because I hadn’t reached that level of manhood yet. I was still shaving nothing, hoping that something would grow, but I had to wait it out.  Remember that bit of advice? If you keep shaving it will eventually grow? Well t didn’t work for me. There were still a few Fonzie haircuts, (with the DA) but most of the boys had bangs of some sort. A look no doubt that we can thank the Fab Four, for.  The “in” thing seemed to have one eye covered by hair. It was cool to have to keep moving your head in order to see properly. I had that hair jerk move mastered. Long hair was on its way in, and I thought I was Paul Mc Cartney . Styles changed over the next three years when we hit the high school. The bell bottom nudged its way into the mix to do battle with pegged pants. Shoulder length hair grew in popularity accompanied by dungarees. A cool look was a matching dungaree jacket, perhaps with a peace sign patch ironed on someplace. It was a hippie uniform. But you could not wear these clothes to school. We had a very strict dress code. We eventually abolished that when we got to the high school.

I don’t know if it was the era, but as I look at the 1968 graduating class of The Western Junior High School, I see that there were a lot of wise guys. We definitely thought we were cool. And some were. I ‘m not sure I was really ever one of the cool ones. I was one of the trouble makers that’s  for sure. I got into hot water trying to make kids laugh.

Mr. Perno, Mr. Lundy, and Mr. Mackey among many others, were also great teachers, and administrators.  As we entered the cafeteria in an orderly fashion we heard “line over there, line over there.” We also were reminded to button our top button on our shirts. All the teachers up the Western were decent to us kids. Strict, but fair. Thank you all for some great memories.

It’s hard to imagine that it was over 40 years ago.  I always say the same thing when I realize how fast time has gone by. I wish I had saved a lot more dough.


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