Oak Park got all shined up, but, oh, Whittier is so the same

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By Evan O'Brien

Content Manager

EDITOR'S NOTE: As part of Whittier School's class of 1969 reunion on Saturday, Oct.16, alumni submitted memories and photos to Wednesday Journal. If you are a member of Whittier School's class of 1969 and would like to submit your memories and photos, please email them to evan@oakpark.com.

Oak Park was not hip when we graduated in 1969, so visiting now is a bit of a shock. I still expect it to be the 'Leave It to Beaver' town I grew up in. I can't quite take in the polish it's acquired. Downtown Oak Park has gone from Woolworth's to sushi restaurants. It's a relief to see the Cozy Corner restaurant is still there -- I used to get a cheeseburger and a Coke for under $2.

Whittier School itself doesn't seem much changed though. Three of us walk past the classroom where we went to first grade and it is so much the same that we break out into the "New Shoes" song that the class used to sing each time one of us got a new pair of shoes.

We wonder whether Whittier still has "school ball day" when the janitors threw down the rubber school balls that got stuck on the school roof and whoever was lucky enough to catch one got to keep it. The gym is so unchanged – it even smells the same -- that we all cringe a little, remembering the hideous uniforms we had to wear and the posture exercises we had to do.

At the reunion dinner as we hear from Mr. Sheehan, our principal, and the teachers who joined us for this event, what strikes me is that they all have a wonderful sense of humor, in addition to really caring about what they did as teachers. I always knew I went to school with an unusually nice group of kids. And they have turned into interesting and engaging adults. But now I can see how our teachers and our principal created an environment that was fun and exciting to learn in. I hope the kids at Whittier today are as fortunate in friends and faculty as we were.

Julie Zweigoron

Class of 1969, Whittier School

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