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December 20, 1985 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-12-20

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Friday, December 20, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Rena Shrodeck Failer hugs
class vice president Eugene

Central's Family• Ties

Like a family reunion, Central High School grads
of 1955 renew friendships at their 30-year reunion.

Special to The Jewish News

Belonging to a big extended
family, that's what Central High
School alumni from the class of 1955
remember most about their high
school years.
And as if to reacquaint them-
selves with long-lost relatives, about
350 members of that class gathered
recently at Roma's of Bloomfield to
reminisce at their 30-year reunion.
The carnal aderie, the relation-
ships, the magic of by-gone years
were relived as persons from Florida,
Arizona, Missouri, New York and
other states came to meet and greet
long-forgotten classmates.
Somehow the 30 years had been
kind ... the faces were still familiar,
and the name tags with the gradua-
tion photos cleverly on them weren't
too often checked to jog the memory.
Central High in 1955 was in a
predominantly middle class area,
with a high percentage of Jewish
students and smaller groups of
blacks and other non-Jews. Located
in the Linwood-Tuxedo-LaSalle area
of the city, many of the families
were from Europe.
According to June class
president, Gerald Rakotz of Far-
mington Hills, "Central High 1955
was probably the showcase of the
Detroit school system. At that time
Central sent about 90 percent of the
students on to college. In our par-
ticular class about three-fourths of
the female graduates either earned
doctorates or teaching degrees, are
physicians, lawyers, circuit court
judges. The women were totally

emancipated, but they didn't know
High school then was three
years, from tenth grade through
12th. There were two graduating
groups in the 1955 class — the
January and the June — about 540
students in all. Locating them 30
years down the line was an over-
whelming challenge.
Two of the committee involved
in this task were Irwin Rabinowitz
of Southfield, and Myrna (Mosco)
Shapero of West Bloomfield. The
trail led them by telephone and let-
ter to more than 30 states, to
Canada and to Israel. They managed
to find the wherebouts of over 80
percent. Not all could attend the re-
union, but most were delighted to
have been found.
The weekend of the reunion was
a busy one. There was a bus trip
down to Central High School, now
named Detroit Central. One of the
participants, Winifed (Ledger) Rome
of East Lansing, commented," It was
nice to go back, but sad to see how
it's changed. I'd forgotten how ele-
gant the auditorium was, with the
most beautiful wood you ever saw in
your life."
After touring the school, the bus
took a detour through the "old
Saturday evening was the reu-
nion, and there was plenty of emo-
tion all around, as old friends found
each other. Some of the students had
kept contact with their classmates,
but for others it was quite an ex-

perience catching up on the past 30
The class of '55 had been a
group of achievers, and the careers
and professions were diverse, with a
former Michigan legislator, a circuit
court judge, a colonel in the U.S.
army with a position at the Penta-
gon, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and
hosts of other occupations in the roll
call. Several Jewish community fig-
ures were in the class.
A few of the Central High
teachers and counselors came along
to see their students. The question
is: Did you have Sam Milan as your
counselor, or were you in a different
study hall?
No reunion would be complete
without its entertainment committee
kicking up its heels in song and
dance, recalling "those days." This
one was no exception.
On Sunday members of the or-
ganizing committees, and some of
the other people attending the reu-
nion met for lunch at a Birmingham
restaurant. Was it by chance that 55
people showed up?
Thirty years down the line.
What did most remember about Cen-
tral High School? It doesn't seem to
have been the French teacher, or the
difficult math class. According to
Barbara (Holdengraber) Reider of
West Bloomfield, it was "a very busy
time, a lot of togetherness, a lot of
group activity — A.Z.A., B.B.G.,
there was always something going
This sentiment was echoed by

everyone there. The camaraderie,
the relationships, the feeling of
being in a big extended family. It
seemed to have been a magical time.
Only one cloud on that horizon.
Late in their high school years a
stabbing took place, the first in a
Detroit school, as a matter of fact.
It happened after a basketball
game against Mackenzie High
School. A disgruntled Central player
stabbed a teammate in the stomach
with an ice-pick. The victim later re-
covered from the attack.
Several of his fellow basketball
players were afterwards taken
downtown for questioning as police
searched for witnesses. The team
and supporters had been relaxing at
Zukin's soda fountain. Among those
questioned was Jerold Hoskow of
Farmington Hills, and two of the re-
union organizers, Allen Seel of Bir-
mingham, and Robert Schechter of

But that one sour note wasn't
enough to spoil the good memories,
and the feeling Central High School
was somewhere they were proud to
say they had attended.
You get the distinct impression
that in five or ten years from now,
about 30 people will have put a lot
of effort into organizing the class of
'55's next reunion. And who knows,
maybe some of those long lost
friends will have kept up their
newly rekindled relationships. Any-
body willing to keep a record? Class
dismissed! [1]

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