Chalk Dust Memories



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David Mezzera (1964)

            On football games days, we followed an activity schedule and finished school 20 minutes earlier than on regular class days. The entire student body would proceed to the gym for a spirit rally, and from there would march en masse down Stanyan Street and directly into Kezar Stadium for the football game. About 85–90 percent of the student body would join in the police-escorted march down to Golden Gate Park to enter the cheering section. The cheerleaders would lead the pack, carrying the SI banner to the game. Block SI’s really worked in the cheering section at football games: Seniors and juniors wore their red and blue jackets to form the block SI and underclassmen would all wear white shirts to provide the background. To me, that was what school spirit was all about.

            Due to the ingenuity and contacts of Fr. Richard Spohn, SJ, SI had its own ruby laser rod in 1964 and was able to display holographic images.

            Rainy day schedule still existed in the early 1960s. The last 20 minutes of the school day, titled Activities Period, would be canceled on a rainy day or before a big game to give us an early start.

            SI's librarian in the 1960s, Br. Len Sullivan, SJ ’44, would not allow students to take textbooks into the Stanyan Street campus first floor library. He would announce that "the library is for library books, not to do homework!" Also, students were not allowed above the basement in the Stanyan Street building until the first bell rang to begin the school day unless going to the library, main office or vice-principal's office.

            Each school year began with a fund raiser, and we sold World's Finest Chocolates. Once, when I rang a doorbell in the Sunset District trying to sell a candy bar “to raise funds for a new field house,” the occupant of the home said that that was the same excuse he used when he was an SI student a number of years prior, and SI still hadn't built the new field house.

            On May 30 and June 1 and 2, 1963, the Stanyan Street gymnasium was transformed into an ice arena, with a portable ice rink brought in and assembled on the floor of the gym and a portable compressor up on the field to run the brine through the pipes and freeze the ice. A hole was punched through the wall of the gym to accommodate the pipes and hoses, which caused all sorts of consternation from SI. A local ice skating school used the venue to put on its yearly ice review mainly for parents of the young skaters. The company cut a deal with SI that year — all profits would benefit the SI building fund, and students were given quotas to sell two ads in the program and to purchase two tickets for the show, with chairs set up around the rink and the bleachers of the gym pulled out for more seating. For each ad sold, students received a raffle ticket for a scooter. Charlie Dullea, who only sold one ad, won the contest. Prior to the event, in order to pique SI student curiosity, a dozen or so teenaged girls performing in the show came to an SI rally in costume and were introduced to the catcalls of the SI students. The idea was to encourage students to buy tickets to see the show. Three SI students ended up skating. I had a solo and did a pair routine with a partner. Also, for each night of the show, the names of two SI students were drawn from a hat and ice skates were placed on their feet as young ladies gave them a quick skating lesson. The whole thing was a setup; Paul Hanley and Phil Woodard were chosen each night and took part in a well-rehearsed skit featuring pratfalls, real and spontaneous. Some of the young women in the show, many years later, sent their children to SI, and one of the skaters later married Ray Calcagno. The June 1964 fund raiser was a concert production held at USF's Memorial Gymnasium featuring Vince Guaraldi, Ronnie Shell, the Gateway Singers and Bola Sete.

Posted by David Mezzera on Wednesday January 4, 2012 at 03:36PM

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