Recollections from the 1960s
on June 15, 2016
Class of 1969
I transcended all three final eras of the Lab School, graduating in the Class of 1969. I grew up with ISTC, entered SCHS and graduated from NUHS. In deciding to write down the following memories and recollections, I decided to list them numerically, rather than try to put them into a narrative form. They are not in any particular order of importance. Hopefully, at least some of them will resonate with whoever peruses these comments, and will bring back memories, hopefully pleasant memories!
1) Our Class of 1969 is very fortunate to have had as its class President, Joe Griffith, who has remained in Cedar Falls and continues to step up to the plate for each Class Anniversary Reunion. Former classmate and now Joe’s spouse, Melanie Holmes, has also played a large part in keeping our class active over the years.
2) I have lived in Cedar Rapids since 1993 with my wife Ann. Our son Tucker earned his business/finance degree at Creighton University where he playing soccer. After working several years following graduation, he is now in a joint MBA/Law School program at the University of Iowa and lives in Iowa City. Our daughter Allie graduated from the University of Iowa this spring of 2016 and has recently started a job near downtown Chicago.
3) Our class size has diminished over the years. Mary Delafield, Claudia Kinder, Kyle Jesse, Patty Lott and Bert Schoeman have died. Other classmates unbeknownst to me may also have passed away.
4) I was one of a number of classmates who attended the Lab School K to 12th grade. There was always something comforting in going to the same complex all of those years, simply moving down the hall and then around the corner as one progressed from grade school to junior high and then into high school.
5) As the oldest of we three Sindlinger children who all attended the Lab School K to 12, I did not have the benefit of an older sibling to extend my circle of acquaintances. Accordingly, my field of vision, so to speak, extended only 3 years beyond my class such that I felt I knew the members of the classes of 68, 67 and 66 at least by name, but I knew few individuals in earlier classes. Interestingly, those associations only went down 1 year and I felt that I similarly knew the members of the Class of 1970 but not that many of the students younger than that, except for those that were friends of my brother Matt and my sister Anne.
6) My brother Matt, Class of 1974, died of brain cancer in 2002 at age 47, leaving his wife Lisa and two children who continue to live in Portland, Oregon. My understanding is that he was not the only member of that class to die of cancer and that there was a “cluster” effect present. My sister Anne (Sindlinger) Lehmkuhl (Class of 1973) lives in Bloomington, Illinois with her spouse Neale and also has two children.
7) I was only 3 years old when my parents, Bill and Jo Sindlinger, moved our family from a farm south of Waterloo in Orange Township to 1209 West 23rd Street, across from Bartlett Hall, where I lived through the 8th grade. Classmate Jane Halbach and her family moved into that 23rd Street house after my family moved to West 18th Street. That site is now part of an entire block parking lot, with the 1209 West 23rd Street house where I grew up having been physically relocated a block north to West 22nd Street.
8) Living across from the college was great as a young boy. I have especially fond memories of riding my bicycle through and around the campus over the summer time. The campus was nearly deserted during the evenings, and next door neighbor and classmate Buzz (Paul) Gohman and I would go out after dinner and ride around the campus for what seemed like hours.
9) As I was always interested in sports, I started attending ISTC athletic events when I was 10 or 11. There was a knothole section with stands off the end zone for football games at O.R. Latham Stadium where it cost only a buck for a seat. I remember most vividly the evening games. My parents thought nothing of my walking several blocks alone to O.R. Latham Stadium to meet up with friends and attend the games. Quite different times now.
10) Often the Sunday mornings after home football games I would return to the stadium before the cleanup crews arrived to walk the stands and look for money. Usually I could find enough dropped change to pay for admittance to the next game. One time I found a $5 bill – I was thrilled.
11) The ISTC West Gym basketball games were also fun, especially on cold winter nights. It would really get warm in the gym by the time those games finished.
12) I don’t recall at what age I was permitted to ride my bicycle to school but I was quite young when my Mom finally let me do so. From my home on West 23rd Street it was a partial block west to Campus Street, and after crossing over Campus Street it was three blocks down hill to the school. That was an intimidating hill for a young boy going down it, and a real challenge to bike all the way back up without having to stop. We rode the sidewalks rather than the streets, as there was little foot traffic along that route.
13) Walter Gohman and his family lived to one side of my West 23rd Street home, and Dr. Leland Wilson and his family lived on the other side, on the corner of West 23rd Street and Merner Street. Dr. Wilson had several girls that were all quite a bit older than I was. Mary Sue (Wilson) Coleman (Class of 1961), who used to baby sit for my brother, sister and myself, went on to become the President of the University of Iowa, and from there moved on to become the President of the University of Michigan. When I introduced myself to Mary Sue years later when she was leading Iowa, she greeted me by name and could not have been more gracious. She spoke so highly of her Lab School days and experiences. One of many Lab School graduates who were high achievers and went on to do impressive things with their lives.
14) I remember as a young boy how exciting it was when the “crick” south of the school would rise and sometimes nearly overflow Campus Street. I would pass over it going to and from school.
15) Most days I either came home for lunch or was provided a sack lunch by my Mom, so eating “hot lunch” in the cafeteria was a real treat when I was permitted to do so. I remember the cherry cobbler which I still like to this day, as well as the institutional canned corn that was another favorite of mine.
16) On special occasions, I would be given a quarter to go to the bakery across the alley from the dry cleaners on 23rd Street west of its intersection with College Street. It was down 23rd Street from Berg Drug, Iowa Sports Supply and Prior’s. Nickel rolls and pastries were a special treat in our household.
17) I spent many an hour on the grade school playground, both before school and at recess, as well as in the evenings, on the weekends, and during the summer. It was close enough to where I lived that I went there often. I especially liked going early to school so I could play on the equipment. I enjoyed the recess games of pom pom pull away, dodge ball and soccer baseball. I fail to understand why some of those games are now considered inappropriate and outlawed in some school systems.
18) I have no idea why the large concrete culvert was included in playground equipment but that was an integral part of the playground for many years.
19) It was great to have friends that lived in the country who rode school buses to and from school. Going home with classmate Kreg Leymaster on the bus to overnight on his family farm was a real adventure that I loved. While I had lived on a similar farm before my parents moved into Cedar Falls before I started school, I only have vague recollections of those years. Accordingly, Kreg’s lifestyle on the farm was way different from my lifestyle in town. Helping him with chores was fun and interesting for me although I imagine for him and his brothers Ron and Rusty they were drudgery.
20) I don’t recall there being any discussion as to whether or not school would be held due to inclement weather. We simply went to school, unless it has snowed so heavily that no one was getting out of their homes.
21) One of the landmark events of my time was the assassination of President Kennedy in November of 1963. I don’t recall whether a formal announcement was made (it probably was) or if word just spread. In any event, school just shut down – teachers stopped teaching classes and I went home.
22) A number of the Lab School faculty had their Doctorate Degrees. As a result, we were taught by and exposed to an extremely highly educated and qualified staff. While with the student teacher program those primary teachers typically only taught for the first portion of each 9 week session, their influence on the curriculum and their classes was present through the year. I went on to college and found myself being taught by graduate assistants and other less qualified and experienced faculty. It was not until my senior year in college that I got back to the caliber of teachers that I had taken for granted at the Lab School.
23) As I recall, each of the four 9 week sessions each school year usually broke down such that the teacher handled class for the first 3 weeks, the second three weeks transitioned to the student teachers, and the last 3 weeks were handled primarily by the student teachers. Each class typically had at least one student teacher and often more, so I was exposed to and went through several hundred students teachers during my K-12 years at the Lab School. As a result, we developed a good feeling for the student teachers. Most were alright, a few we really liked but some we didn’t like at all for various reasons. We had a way of making life difficult for those that fell into the latter category.
24) I remember specifically a calculus course that I took as a senior, taught by Lynn Schwandt. He was into rudimentary computers and spent a good portion of the class teaching us Fortran programing skills. As a result, we didn’t cover a lot of calculus. Upon entering college, my advisor looked at my high school transcript, and seeing that I had done well in a “calculus” course, he slotted me into an higher math course. I was in completely over my head and in spite of getting assistance from the professor, as well as paying for a private tutor, my test scores plummeted over the course of the semester. I was down in the 30% range when the professor graciously backdated my withdrawal application so I could drop the course without receiving a failing grade. It was little consolation that I could actually assist my physics major roommate with his Fortran homework assignments!
25) I also remember a literature class assignment where several of us (i.e. – myself, Chip Mahon and Dale Ford) were to write a joint poem. We messed around for the first two class periods and part of the third before realizing that we needed to come up with something to turn in. So we wrote a joint poem, each of us providing a word at a time. It went something like: “A” “MAN” “WENT” “TO” “THE” “RIVER” – we came up with two stanzas as I remember, made it rhyme and turned it in. The teacher thought it was great and it ended up being published in the school literary pamphlet. I remember showing it to my father who read it, read it a second time, and looked at my rather quizzically. I told him that the teacher thought it was great and we had gotten an “A”. He shook his head and didn’t say a word. I actually agreed with him – expecting three young teenage boys to jointly author a poem was a problematic assignment, to say the least.
26) I took Driver’s Education one summer and still vividly remember the first actual driving session. Mike Lynott and I were assigned to drive together. Mike was a good friend of mine so we both went in together to see Dr. Mazula. He was at his desk, reading either a newspaper or magazine, scarcely looked up and tossed us the keys to the Driver’s Ed car and said: “Keep it in the parking lot and don’t hit anything”. So Mike and I went out on our own to learn how to drive, at least I was learning as I had little experience up to that point. The car had a “three on the tree” and must have had a heavy duty transmission from all the abuse it took. Anyway, I learned to drive on a standard transmission, which has stood me in good stead over the years.
27) After I had my full license at 16, like all young drivers I wanted to drive. I kept bugging my parents (actually my Mom as she was the one around all the time) to let me drive to an away basketball game. She finally let me drive to a game at Grundy Center but I had to take both my younger sister and brother and no one else. An adroit parental move. So I drove the three of us to the game but left part way through the 4th quarter of the varsity game in order to get ahead of traffic. Some of you will recall that not too far out of Grundy Center their was (and still is) a long curve. I thought that I was meticulously obeying the speed limit, not realizing it had dropped through the curve. I was pulled over by a local Grundy County Sheriff who was waiting for post game traffic and while the officer was questioning me and writing out a ticket (actually just a warning ticket) on the side of the road, I think the entire SCHS group attending the game passed us by on their way home. One of the more embarrassing episodes of my life.
28) Over the years, I always took pride in having been first chair viola in what I considered to be the best high school orchestra in the state. I didn’t tell people that Mr. Welsh went by a seniority system, and as the only viola player in my class, I was first chair by default. Most, if not all, of the players behind me were better than I was but they were all underclassmen.
29) I always felt honored to have earned a varsity letter in sports while still under the SCHS regime so that my letter jacket had SCHS on it rather than NUHS. I was envious of those contemporaries of mine who inherited ISTC letter jackets from older brothers.
30) I got that jacket as a freshman just in time to wear it to the 1966 District Basketball game where SCHS defeated cross town rival Cedar Falls 61 to 44. A lot of Panther pride evident that evening watching John Martin, Dick Bergstrom and Phil Przychodzin lead the Little Panthers to victory. That was one of the highlights of my high school career even though I was just watching the game from the stands.
31) To show what a small world it is, some 30 years later I was skiing with my wife Ann and our two children Tucker and Allie in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and found myself riding up the gondola with Dick Bergstrom and his wife Sue. I wouldn’t have recognized him had my wife Ann not asked him about the Creston High School windbreaker he was wearing. Another of those Lab School high achievers – a 33 year coaching and teaching career mostly at Creston High School, Iowa Football Coaches Hall of Fame, etc. Dick had gone out of his way to encourage me when I was an insecure high school freshman athlete and once even gave me a ride home after track practice. I never properly thanked him for that support. Now I have.
32) Even these many years later, I continue to cross paths with other Lab School students. A few years ago a colleague and friend was diagnosed with cancer. Rita fought the good fight but ended up succumbing to that dreaded disease. Her Cedar Rapids oncologist who she thought so highly of was Dr. Martin Wiesenfeld, who I met very briefly during one of my hospital visits. I am confident that he did not recognize or remember me but I remembered Marty Wiesenfeld who lived on Campus Street, and who graduated in 1965. Another high achiever who went through the Lab School.
33) As I participated in varsity athletics as a freshman, I got to associate with more upper classmen than was typical for most freshmen. That was an exciting, at times scary, and always interesting and broadening experience. I recall being treated well even though the Letterman’s Club initiation activities were intimidating. By current standards that initiation would be considered hazing or bullying but at the time it was a coveted rite of passage. Coach Aldrich was always present to make certain any overly enthusiastic lettermen were reigned in. I was fortunate to have neighbor Lynn Willadsen and Bob Brammer (older brother of good friend and classmate Ron Brammer) looking out for me so I wasn’t treated too harshly.
34) One of the most memorable moments of my entire life was when I quit football. Having not played before, I went out my junior year. After the first week of practices going into the Labor Day Weekend, I decided football was not for me. I went in to see Coach Aldrich the next school day and told him that I was quitting. As an aside, he was the most intimidating person I had encountered up to that stage of my life. Going in alone to see him was one of the most difficult things I have done in my life. He could have come down on me and scarred me for life, rather he said something to the effect: “The coaches have been talking about you and while you are doing well, it is obvious that your heart is not in it. Thank you for coming in to talk it over. Turn in your gear and get ready for your next sport.” What a true educator and molder of young men he was. While there always remained a bit of the intimidation factor, Coach Aldrich became one of my favorite teachers. I always enjoyed seeing him in the years following graduation.
35) To this day, I have not been able to determine if “potlicker” as used by Coach Aldrich was an obscenity or not. I have tentatively come to the conclusion that it was not, rather a descriptive word, almost a term of endearment.
36) I was very surprised to see from the Lab School year books on line that up until at least 1963 the Senior Class took up to an 8 day Senior Trip to places such as Washington D.C. and Chicago. Too bad that got phased out before my time. All that we got was a several day Junior High trip to Ingawanis Boys Scout Camp.
37) I did not appreciate it at the time but looking back I realize all of the tremendous programs and facilities/equipment that the lab school provided to its student body:
Swimming pool - (Dr. Bud Happ)
Field House – Indoor Track (John Aldrich and Floyd Anderson)
Tennis – Lloyd Stokstad
Safety Education (Dr. Pete Mazula)
Audio Vision Department (Dr. Ken Paulson)
Choir – (Les Hale)
Orchestra – (James Welch)
Band – (Dr. Alfred Moon and Dr. Wayne Aurand)
Theater – (Ken Butzier)
Foreign Language Programs – (Rosa Findley)
Literature/Public Speaking – (Dr. Howard Vander Beek)
Industrial Arts – (Frank Hartell and Russell Hansen)
Latin – (Dr. Marguerite Struble)
Science – (Ruth Mahon, Walt Gohman, Don Finsand)
Math – (Don Wiederanders, Joe Holfeld, Lynn Schwandt, John Tarr)
Social Studies – (Leland Hott and Ferd Reichmann)
Business – (Dr. Joe Przychodzin)
Library – (Miss Joan Englund)
38) I also did not fully appreciate it at the time but I was very fortunate to go to school with a number of friends and classmates whose parents were on the Lab School staff. What a great environment to have grown up in.
Kirk Happ, Ferol and Beth Conklin – Dr. Bud Happ
Debbie, John and Steve Aldrich – John Aldrich
Arden, Richard, Mary and Paul Stokstad – Lloyd Stokstad
Pete, Kandi and Guy Mazula – Dr. Pete Mazula
Cindy, Peg and Robin Paulson – Dr. Ken Paulson
Kathleen and Steve Moon – Dr. Alfred Moon
Libby, Robert and David Aurand – Dr. Wayne Aurand
David, Doug and Stuart Butzier – Ken Butzier
Jon and Bob Vander Beek – Dr. Vander Beek
Ellen and Paul (Chip) Mahon – Ruth Mahon
Mike and Paul (Buzz) Gohman – Walt Gohman
Linda and Greg Hott – Leland Hott
Phil and Joe Przychodzin - Dr. Joe Przychodzin
39) My class started taking Spanish in the 3rd or 4th grade as I recall. I was one of less than a dozen students that stuck with it through high school. While it certainly didn’t come easy to me and I was only a mediocre speaker by the time I graduated, I had a solid background in the language. At college I continued taking Spanish courses as I was comfortable in them and got better grades. As a result, I ended up doing a junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain which was a life changing event in several respects. That was directly attributable to my Lab School background and training.
40) Where else could one have gone to school and had the opportunity to participate in:
Sports year round (i.e. – football, basketball/swimming, track/tennis, and baseball)
Band and pep band, orchestra and chamber orchestra, choir and madrigal choir
Student Council and Model UN
Various other clubs and activities (i.e. – chess club, etc.)
We had the facilities, programs and faculty of a college/university, which is in effect what the Lab School was. What a privilege and honor it is to have attended such an institution.