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Remembering Burlington High School days 1958-1959

Paul was born in Milwaukee and grew up in the city and on a farm in southeastern Wisconsin. He attended Burlington High School 1958-1962.

Remembering Burlington High School Days 1958-1959

Burlington High School circa 1959

Burlington High School circa 1959

I attended Burlington High School in southeastern Wisconsin from September 1958 until June 1962.

As early as my freshman year, I had decided that I wanted to attend college. Consequently, I enrolled in a college-prep track of study with an emphasis on math, science, and foreign language courses.

I studied very hard because I desired to be valedictorian of my graduating class and win a scholarship.

Since I lived on a farm and did not have a car, football was my only major extracurricular activity. Socially, I had few friends and didn't attend student activities in town after class.

In this article, I first explain my family background and why I attended Burlington High School (BHS) Next, I remember school life during my freshman year. I recall all of my classes, teachers, and some significant classmates and friends. Finally, I reminisce about meaningful school activities during my first year.

Family Background and Reasons for Attending BHS

Author with mother, two sisters, and brother on front lawn of farmhouse.  Taken in August 1958.

Author with mother, two sisters, and brother on front lawn of farmhouse. Taken in August 1958.

I graduated from Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Waterford in June 1958. Before graduation, I had been accepted into the incoming freshman class of Marquette University High School in Milwaukee. My parents, however, were poor farmers and could not afford to pay the tuition and boarding expenses for me at Marquette. I remember dad asking Saint Thomas Aquinas for financial support but it could not help me.

Consequently, I had to attend a free public high school. Since our farm was just inside the Burlington school district, I had to attend BHS instead of Waterford High.

Mom and dad were very poor at that time. Even with a full-time outside job at Allis Chalmers in West Allis, dad could barely pay the mortgage and farming expenses. I had three younger sisters and one younger brother during my high school years so mom could not work outside.

Dad never had time to take me to Burlington to socialize with classmates. I never had free time either because I helped with barn chores every day until 7:00 or 7:30 in the evening.

Author as Freshman Student 1958-1959

Author as Freshman student

Author as Freshman student

My Freshman School Day

It took a while for me to adjust to high school because it was much different than grade school.

Instead of being in one classroom with 25 classmates and having one teacher all day, I suddenly was in a much bigger school with hundreds of students. I had to go to five different classrooms and a gym every day. Each class had a different teacher and I kept my books in a wall locker in the school basement when I wasn't using them for classes.

A school bus came to our farm and picked me up around 7:15 every morning. Following a 30-minute ride stopping in Honey Creek and Honey Lake to pick up other students, the bus arrived at BHS around 7:45.

At 8:00, we had to report to our homeroom to hear school announcements over the public intercom and receive instruction from our homeroom teacher. Then it was time to start our first-period class.

After the last period of the day at 3:30, I boarded one of the buses parked in front of the school for a ride back home.

My Freshman Classes and Teachers

Miss Quam was my first-period Citizenship teacher. Her class was held on the first floor of the school building. I still remember her lessons about consumer advertising and the stock market.

After the 50-55 minute first period, I went to Mr. Geiken's Beginning Algebra class which was directly across from Miss Quam's classroom. Algebra turned out to be my favorite class.

Next, I had a Physical Education P.E. Gym class in the school basement. The varsity football coach Mr. Braunschweig was my teacher.

Following Gym class, it was time for lunch held in the basement school cafeteria. Eating a hot meal was a welcome change from carrying a lunch to school. Lunch usually lasted about 15 minutes. The remainder of my 50-55-minute lunch hour was spent in the basement corridors outside of the gym, Industrial Arts, and Home Economics classroom. Many students hung out there because there was a jukebox and dancing was allowed.

At approximately 12:30, the bell rang for the beginning of fourth-period classes. After making my way up to the second floor, I entered Mrs. Faust's class for Latin I. This was my second favorite class. I stayed on the second floor for Mrs. Worby's English class. The sixth and final class period of the day found me in a big study hall also on the second floor. There had to have been at least 60 students from all four years of high school in that study hall. No one misbehaved because the vice-principal Mr. Treichel watched all students. By 3:30, the class day was over.

Two Freshman Class Teachers 1958-1959

Mr. Braunschweig bottom left and Mrs. Faust bottom right

Mr. Braunschweig bottom left and Mrs. Faust bottom right

Unforgettable Classmates

I remember Joan A from Civics class because she was a cute blonde.

Also, I can not forget Brian M who later played on the football team with me. Mr. Geiken once misspelled his name Brian as Brain on the board.

Hunter B in my Latin class was also hard to miss. He was about 6'6" and once carried a fake hypodermic needle into Latin class.

Other classmates were Bonnie F a junior and Dorothy L and Tim B freshmen from Honey Creek who rode the bus with me.

An Unforgettable Friend

My one and only friend was Fred W a freshman. Fred lived in English Settlement and once invited me to his home where we watched his homemade 35 mm projector movies on the wall in his room. When I received the sacrament of Confirmation in the spring of 1959, Fred was my sponsor.

Significant Freshman Year Activities and Events

In my freshman year, I participated in five significant activities and events. They included:

  1. Freshman football
  2. Freshman Initiation
  3. A state math test
  4. A Foreign Language Club trip to Milwaukee
  5. A one-day baseball tryout

Freshman Football

I joined the junior varsity football team because Mr. Braunschweig the varsity football coach said I was big and should be playing football.

My first day of practice was an activity I will always remember. It was amazing to put on hip pads, rib pads, thigh pads, and shoulder pads before stepping into pants and pulling a jersey over the shoulder pads. After practice, I was so sore that I could hardly walk.

I only practiced for a few days because I had no ride home after we finished practice at 5:30.

Freshman Initiation

Freshman initiation had long been a tradition at BHS. Our initiation was held on one Friday in October 1958.

We had to pay our dues to the members of the senior class by dressing up as Popeye the Sailorman for boys and Olive Oil for the girls. During the day we had to sing, 'I'm Popeye the Sailorman, toot–toot, the seniors are best above all the rest, I'm Popeye the Sailorman," when stopped by seniors. We also had to obey their commands by doing such things as carrying their books or kneeling on the floor.

In the evening, we all became formal high school members at our initiation ceremony in the school gym. What I still remember is seeing Robin R jumping through a hula hoop that was rolling on the floor.

Freshman Initiation Fall 1958

Freshman Initiation

Freshman Initiation

3. State Math Test

Beginning Algebra was my favorite subject because Mr. Geiken was an excellent teacher and my favorite teacher. My dad also helped me by showing me how to do application word problems when I had them for homework. After solving some of these problems on the board in class, Mr. Geiken thought I had the talent to take a state math test intended for junior and senior math students. After the test, I remember Mr. Geiken remarking that I did better on the test than some juniors.

Mr. Geiken

Mr. Geiken is top left.

Mr. Geiken is top left.

4. A Foreign Language Club Trip to Milwaukee

I joined the Foreign Language Club because I loved Latin and had an interest in foreign languages. In the winter of 1959, our small club made a trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum. Looking at ancient Egyptian mummies and hieroglyphics was very exciting.

Foreign Language Club in Freshman Year

Author as a member of Foreign Language Club

Author as a member of Foreign Language Club

5. A One-day Baseball Try-out

Finally, I will always remember a one-day freshman baseball try-out in April 1959. I have loved playing baseball ever since the age of seven or eight. In the summers of 1957 and 1958, I played on the Honey Creek village baseball team.

In the spring of 1959, I convinced dad to let me try out for freshman baseball. Although my preferred position was catcher, I was put in center field during my first practice. Getting off to a good start, I dropped a fly ball that was hit my way. I then came to bat and John H was pitching. After taking three balls, I struck out swinging on the next three pitches.

I was disappointed in myself and never went to another practice. Dad was probably happy because he didn't have to pick me up after practice and I could help him with the spring planting of oats and corn.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Paul Richard Kuehn