483 MONTHS FROM JUNE 1975 GRADUATION DATE
San Francisco, CA– The 40th reunion of the 1975 South San Francisco High School class was truly a jaunt down memory lane in a number of ways. First off, few people look like they did in high school. One guy whom I photographed for the 1974 yearbook in just his underwear, I didn’t put his face and that snapshot together until late in the evening when I saw the picture on the way out.
MR. PELIGRINO AND MR. ZUEBLER AT THE ELK’S
Twas’ a return to the Elk’s Club, a place I hadn’t been since I was honored by the Northern California Retired Boxers Assn. On that November 2001 evening, my late mother was present and our guest list included South City teachers Mr. Peligrino and Mr. Zuebler. When I took the dais, the first thing I did was ask everybody to, “Please give my mom, Mr. P & Mr. Z a big round of applause.”
PELIGRINO CONVINCED ME I COULD WRITE
Of the near dozen or so awards for my writing, be it a cover story of Essence Magazine or penning for Scotland’s #1 Sunday periodical, the Oakland Trib, the old Examiner, as well as the San Francisco Progress under a pen name while a member of the San Francisco Police Dept., I should have shared the awards and free trips to Japan, Spain, the UK and Hawaii with Anthony Peligrino, because sans Mr. P they would have never happened.
MR. P SAID “WRITE THE STORY” & MR. Z “DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW”
It was Mr. P who told me that I had a “duty” to expose the SSFHS administrator who was reportedly stopped four times and popped twice within 180 days for Drunk Driving. This was the guy chasing people around campus and disciplining them with impunity. The story begins with me being the Editor of The Warrior and we’re having lunch with Mr. Z in his typing class. Obvious to me, Mr. Zuebler didn’t want anything to do with this and probably wished he wasn’t there when I brought in the police reports.
ENDED UP TELLING MRS. WISNEWSKI OF “E WING”
It was one of the few times in my life where I had to keep a secret, and yet write about it. “Tease the story,” leaking out one drip per issue of the school papers. After two months and people asking, the bomb was dropped and this “Mr. Thirsty” ended up being driven to and from work (SSFHS campus) for a while.
WITH ADMINISTRATOR’S FACE ON FIRE, I THOUGHT “NOTHING OF IT”
There were a number of teachers who supported me, Mr. Jacobs for one. But talk about naive, seeing it was all true, I didn’t think for a second there would be “retaliation” from the “Thirsty” administrator or faculty. E wing’s Mrs. Wisnewski who supported me, I confided in her and she told me to talk to Mr. Peligrino.
REMEMBERING MR. COHEN “EXPECTORATING” IN MY FACE
The one teacher that did lash out at me was Science teacher Mr. Cohen. He gave me additional homework, sent me to Mr. Zaro, made my life hell because we both knew I needed the 5 Science credits to graduate in 12 weeks. Cohen got in my face, spitting as he talked and I shoved him away from my seated position which led to him ousting me.
BILL HUNTER “HAUNTED” BY CLASSES AFTER 1975
For better or worse, I got an extra period off and Bill Hunter, a gem of a counselor who was run off campus (harassed for his perceived sexuality) some years after our graduation, set me up with a Science correspondence course, thus my graduation was a guarantee.
“TOP SHELF” HERB & SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
Some things change, some don’t. As the jocks sucked down a cocktail or two, the stoners were well represented at the Elk’s, albeit without the participation of the guy (he was there) who first brought Colombian Red to South City. In closing, the last time I saw Frank Verducci and Paul Bachtold, they were hamming it up for the camera at our graduation dance some 483 months ago. Saturday night, there they were, Frank & Paul together again shooting “gag” photographs wearing funny hats. Just like the mighty Stylistics tune of 1975, “Some Things Never Change.” Not the class of ’75. Truly a great evening!
Note: Mr. Fernandez is an award-winning writer, TV commentator, radio talk show host, former San Francisco Policeman, licensed California Private Investigator and four-time Golden Gloves boxing champion, who also pens feature stories for the R & B band Tower of Power. Comments regarding this submission can be left below.
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1975 SOUTH CITY CLASS REUNITES 483 MONTHS LATER