Germantown High School * Philadelphia, PA. * Class of 1957


Iris Madley

Memories of GHS

---I have to confess that my memories of Germantown are more like brief flashbacks rather than sustained recollections. I see snatches of activities like practicing for our performance of "Rodeo" in early morning ballet club (how did I ever end up there?--my friends were doing it)-- studying for history tests by composing and reciting the little rhymes we made up as study aids, especially the one about Attila the Hun, struggling into stupid blue gym suits, going to Bear Mountain, and the undercurrent of competitiveness as we struggled to make honor society or achieve other academic goals. Dr. Wagnerís history class remains vivid in my mind: he epitomized everything a good teacher should be: enthusiastic, knowledgeable, demanding, and concerned about his students. Surely, my decision to major in history took root in his class.

---For me, GHS is really the memories of things I did with friends. Playing first violin in the orchestra was a really important part of my high school life and I remember the camaraderie of working together and learning so much. I still laugh about going to Atlantic City for Marlene Oscarís 16th birthday party and being chased by a phalanx of pigeons. Linda Kosmin and I spent a lot of time batting tennis balls across a cracked cement court, which probably accounts for my unorthodox backhand, but it was fun. I also remember hanging out at Miriam Brodyís house where we continually debated and dissected the agonizing questions that consumed us about who we were and what we wanted to do. Because I left Philadelphia immediately after college, I didnít keep up with many high school friends, but Judith Lefkowitz (Hamburger) and I both ended up in the Washington area. We became reunited and Judith and I became perhaps closer friends than we were in high school and I still mourn her death from cancer last year. We, along with Miriam, talked about this reunion and she helped to convince me I should attend.

---My husband and I have differing memories about high school. He remembers his experience as a happy time, one in which he and his friends had a grand time. My recollections are more mixed: I recall good friends, fun and achievements, but also tension, competitiveness, and unhappiness. Certainly, Germantown High played a vital role in forming my character as an adult and I will be forever grateful for the first-rate education I received and for the intellectual curiosity my teachers encouraged.

Life After Germantown High

---Standing in front of a display case of Philadelphia cream cheese in a Monoprix in Paris, my past and present came together again. Whatever I was dreaming about on graduation day from GHS (the only distinct memory I have of that day is not particularly pleasant) I surely couldnít have imagined the life Iím now part of. Iím certain that Miss Dilg, our French teacher, could not have pictured her (far) less than adept student blithely explaining in French why she needed to exchange a pillow case in BHV, a famous Right bank department store. Frankly, neither could I three years ago, but my husband, Irv, and I now spend five months each year in Paris, where he works at the International Herald Tribune each summer, and I play tennis in Luxembourg Gardens.

---We got married while undergraduates at Temple University and two weeks after I graduated, we left Philly foreveróalthough our move to Trenton wasnít exactly a sign of the world we would eventually come to know. After several years and numerous East Coast sites, we landed on Long Island where Irv was an editor at Newsday. Our first daughter, Michele, was born in Trenton and our second daughter, Ellen, was born on Long Island. I returned to work as a social worker (my caseload consisted of unwed mothers from L to Z). Irv joined the New York Times, where he remained for 34 years, until he took early retirement in 2001. I returned to school at SUNY Stony Brook where I earned an MA in French History and passed the orals for my Ph.D. but never wrote my dissertation (ABD, as we say in the trade). When Irv was transferred to the Washington Bureau of the New York Times in 1980, the family moved to Washington.,

---I became director of Membership and Communication for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), where I stayed for 19 years until I also took early retirement in 2001. I enjoyed my work tremendously, which consisted of defending academic freedom and recruiting members for the AAUP on college and university campuses across the country, but giving it up for a new life in Paris wasnít a hard call for me. Over the years, we had traveled to Europe often, and I knew I could survive very well on cuisse de canard.

---We bought an apartment in the 4th arrondissment, one of the oldest parts of Paris. The first Mansard roof ever built is within walking distance of our place, as is Notre Dame. We love Paris but donít plan to move there all year round. Our older daughter now lives in Washington after ten years on the West Coast and our younger daughter, her husband and three children live in nearby Norfolk, Virginia, and we donít want to be separated from any of them longer than five or six months.

---As I write this, we are preparing to leave for France. There is a lot to look forward toófriends, great food, great museums, and the French Open. But this year, I have something else to look forward toóthe day after we return, we drive up to Valley Forge and I get to see friends from 47 years ago. I canít wait.

Click Here To Return To Home Page

Special Thanks to Lois Addison for Scanning Yearbook Photos &
Special Thanks to Katherina Kripl Bonner for sending Lois Her Copy of the June 1957 Yearbook
& to George Palmer for sending Lois His Copy of the January 1957 Yearbook.

This Page Updated 09/10/04 gwf