Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Columbia’s ‘U-High’ family set to share school memories

A small display ad in the Tribune recently showed a tiny photo with a caption that asked, "Do you recognize this building?" The picture was dim, and I didn’t recognize it.

I did recognize something about "U-High." My brother Jim Meyers and I went to University High School - U-High. And it certainly wasn’t the square brown building where we attended University Elementary School in the 1920s.

Both of these were University of Missouri-Columbia laboratory schools for the training and fine-tuning of future teachers. There have been no laboratory schools for 10 or 12 years! No wonder that this kind of get-together just happens about every four years.

The tiny photo was of the school building where our children attended University Laboratory School. All of the three buildings were on the corner of Sixth Street and Conley Avenue.

I read the rest of the ad: "The Fourth U-High School-Wide Reunion" will be held Sunday at Nickel Shelter at Cosmo Park "for all former students, faculty, administrators, employees and their families."

It’s not easy to explain what endeared these buildings to so many of us. When I mentioned U-High to a friend recently while at lunch, a stranger rushed over to say, "I went to U-High, too." She was several years younger than I, but that made no difference - we’re family.

Kids in other schools called us guinea pigs and said our teachers were just practicing on us. Practicing? Our history teacher was Elmer Ellis; later he taught my university class in money, credit and banking, and when he became university president, he greeted us U-High students by our first names. H.Y. Moffett taught seventh-grade English from a nationally acclaimed text, "Junior Highways to English," written by the same H.Y. Moffett.

I sent a short note when he was ill, and he replied with a poem that filled a page in our student-made annual, "The Tiger Claw."

How did we make those books? Art students submitted their work and took the photos; physics class developed and printed the film; others trimmed and mounted them on cheap, rough paper.

Student art, stories, poetry, articles, captions and names were mimeographed on that paper. I don’t know how the covers were printed, but we punched holes and laced pages and covers together. Those annuals are treasures because we made them - and we bought them for $5.

Classes were small. I graduated from U-High in 1932 in a class of fewer than 30, which was about average. We all fit into some niche. I once sang "A Boar’s Head Bear I" while carrying a real boar’s head on a tray! Extracurricular activities included chorus and our school orchestra with from six to eight people and no two instruments the same.

Most students followed the lab’s silk worms year after year. We fed them mulberry leaves and watched them spin cocoons; finally we unwound their silk thread.

My brother Jim took physics and chemistry and recalls a 5-foot black snake in the laboratory; it harmed no one.

Coach Peters taught his students how to make a crystal radio and provided the crystals; Jim bought earphones, and I recall our Dad’s excitement when he suddenly heard music in those earphones - from station KDKA in Pittsburgh.

Many ears will perk up Sunday, and many memories will return when someone mentions Carolyn Hartwig, Mrs. Bardlemeier, Charles Butler, Ralph Watkins, Eleanor Taylor, Edna Wood, Mary Jesse, Merea Williams, Elizabeth Burrell and others. Many of them taught two generations - or more - of this devoted family.

Guinea pigs? So be it! We’re family.


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