My family moved to Rochester, MN, in the summer of 1969, when my father was accepted for a two year residency in anesthesia at the Mayo Clinic. He decided to become an anesthesiologist and leave pediatrics behind after he had a serious disagreement with his uncle, the head of the Defiance Clinic. Although there were offers from families in Defiance to keep me and let me complete my senior year at Defiance High School (which I really wanted to do for many, many reasons, one of which was we were moving into a brand new high school that year), my parents determined that the family would not be split up and all of us kids would go to Rochester.
I was in Germany when the family packed up and moved to Minnesota, so I didn't arrive until August. At that point I had a choice in high schools. I could go to the public high school, Mayo High School, or I could enroll in the Catholic high school, Lourdes, which was in the center of town. Mayo was a new building and probably twice as large as Defiance High School was. I felt very intimidated by the size and by the students attending. In contrast, Lourdes was a quarter of the size--the senior class was less than 150 students. I thought I might have a better chance to meet folks and make some friends in a smaller environment.
Lourdes turned out to be the right choice for me. Despite some adjustments, e.g. to the school uniform and to sex segregated lines in the school cafeteria, the students at Lourdes were kind and I didn't feel soalone after the first few weeks. Sue and Barb became very close friends over the course of the year. Bill Mc introduced me to real Chinese food, which was a revelation because the only Chinese food I had ever eaten prior to that was cans of Chung King at home. And I loved going out with Mike in his Renault Dauphine.
Lourdes High prom 1970
I tried out for and was accepted into Triple Trio, the girl's singing ensemble, and at the end of the year when the school newspaper staff (which had been composed of junior class members) fizzled out, I was delighted to jump in and participate in the last issue. Last but not least, I joined a Junior Achievement group sponsored by the local television station and we produced half hour live television shows. I think we made two or three. The first was a Dick Clark teen dance with a way cool for the time, revolving mirror ball, and the last show was called "Youth in Action," highlighting volunteer work that teens were doing in the Rochester community. I even participated in the Miss Minnesota Junior Executive contest, as the Rochester contestant. This was was the Junior Achievement's version of Miss Minnesota minus the swimsuit and talent competition. I was selected as first runner up, but because they announced the runners up in alphabetical order, mine was the first name called. I still have my trophy, however, which sits proudly out in the garage.
I even went to two proms senior year--at Lourdes and at Mayo. One was on Friday night, the other Saturday night. I recall that at the Mayo prom, I wore my white prom dress but at dinner I spilled some thousand island dressing on it. I thought I had done a good job getting the stain out but when we got to the dance the illumination was almost entirely from black lights, which really brought out the white dress, except where the thousand island dressing had been. I kept my hands glued to my stomach throughout the dance.
Mayo HS prom 1970
My photo made it into the Rochester newspaper when I was named a National Merit semifinalist. I am pictured below with other semifinalists from the two public high schools in Rochester, wearing my Lourdes uniform--a navy pleated jumper, white shirt and navy sweater. Boy did I get tired of that by the end of the school year. In fact, it took decades to voluntarily wear white shirts.
I was such an earnest a young lady in high school that after senior skip day, when we were threatened with losing membership in National Honor Society unless we made up the day we skipped. I made it up after graduation was over!
The combination of moving to Minnesota and receiving the National Merit award was the fork in the road that took me to Macalester College. I am sure that the high school guidance counselor in Defiance would not have heard of Macalester, nor would she have known that the college's principal benefactor, DeWitt Wallace of Reader's Digest, paid the tuition for National Merit winners to attend Macalester.
My senior year was different from what I had imagined growing up. I recall lonely times, wishing I could be back in Defiance, but overall, it was an education in more than just scholastics. Ultimately it worked out just fine, which these days I think is the best outcome one can have. Besides, I loved the Lourdes unofficial drinking song:
Lourdes High Drinking Song
Cheers, cheers for old Lourdes High,
You bring the whiskey, I'll bring the rye.
Send the sophomores out for gin,
And don't let a sober freshman in,
oh no, no,
We never stagger, we never fall,
We sober up on wood alcohol,
While the loyal faculty
Lie drunk on the bar room floor
Ba da da da (repeat ad nauseum)
Go Eagles! I hope the reunion is a great affair. Maybe next time....