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


Hildy Wils

Memories of GHS

---A solid foundation for life was laid down at Germantown High School. I am forever grateful for that.

---Education and discovery of the world around me began at John Story Jenks Elementary School, continued at Roosevelt Junior High School came into sharp focus at GHS.

---Germantown High School...

---It was a place that, to me, seemed so intimidating because of its size. I recall the first orientation meeting in a cavernous auditorium one September day in 1955.

---In retrospect that auditorium was but a tiny chamber in the cocoon of awakening, self discovery, knowledge, skills, understanding, experience, mental and moral development that GHS would provide.

---I did not know that then. Sitting alone and a bit frightened at the prospect of high school, I wondered what the next three years would bring.

---As those years unfolded they provided a fine education, poignant memories, first love, first heartbreak, good friends (with whom I wish I had stayed in touch but, through the miracle of the Internet, I am now corresponding with) and an introduction to journalism.

---I always liked to write. Somewhere stashed in the stacks of memorabilia of the 1940s are yellowed copies of the first "story" I ever wrote. It was published in the John Story Jenks Herald.

---I cannot remember the year, (1946?) nor can I remember the subject but I was published.

---So, at GHS, the seed for a career in writing that was planted in elementary school was about to blossom. Norman Klein's English class was the vehicle. Do I remember the basics of news writing that he taught?


---But I do remember Mr. Klein, sandy haired, coke bottle glasses, always nattily dressed, who, when he was describing the romantic novel insisted that we not equate "romantic" with Elizabeth Taylor. (Why do I remember that?)

---The days were filled with talented teachers who made the mundane exciting, teachers who prepared us so well for the future.

---Hours preceding--and sometimes following--classes were dedicated to orchestra practice and rehearsals for the main event--graduation--and some less remarkable occasions. I will never listen to Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" without recalling that huge GHS auditorium.

---Nor will I ever forget our own June 1957 graduation when we sang, in unison, "When you walk through the storm keep your chin up high and don't be afraid of the the end of the storm is a golden sun..."

---That just about sums up what GHS teachers instilled in me, an admonition that I have always held close to my heart.

Life After GHS

---The lyrics popped into my head many, many times over the years--at Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, for one year, and Penn State for the remaining three years. I received my BA in Liberal Arts with a major in journalism from Penn State in 1961.

---I was a product of the '40s and '50s, and for a 21-year-old in 1961 that often meant college followed by marriage.

---I was no exception. I got married, moved to Connecticut, then Ontario, Canada, back to Connecticut where a daughter and son were born, on to Massachusetts and finally to New Jersey where I have lived for more than 30 years.

---The idea of women in the work place and rearing a family was just beginning to take hold in the early '60s. But it offered a whole new dimension to me.

---I began writing for newspapers just months after graduating from college and getting married. It was a full time career until daughter and son arrived. Then it was crammed into the off hours, when my two little people slept.

---I vividly recall sitting at the typewriter (remember that old instrument?) at our home in Connecticut trying to put a story together while rocking the baby carriage so that number two child would slumber while I wrote.

---From the '60s up until the '90s that's what life consisted of...rearing two dear children and writing.

---The children grew up, married, settled into their own homes (daughter now just down the street and around the corner, and son in Pennsylvania) and began the cycle all over again but interpreting it in their individual ways. Daughter has two girls and a boy. Son has two boys.

---Joy! Joy five times over!

---The empty nest allowed closer attention to my newspaper work--as a reporter and ultimately an editor--until the dailies and weeklies I worked for folded, one after another. Retirement was forced, but only for a while.

---What to do? Garden, of course. Nothing is more therapeutic.

---Finally, three years ago gardening and writing merged and I am doing both when the seasons allow. A former colleague who is now the editor of a local weekly newspaper tapped me to write a gardening column.

---That is what I am up to now.

---As for the career as a medical secretary that the Rividere said I planned to pursue: it was never to be. I barely survived the skinned knees, bumps, stitched up wounds that a mother of two children routinely faces. I have to turn away when the vet gives the cats shots and pedicures.

---Ah, the twists and turns of life are, indeed, mysterious. But GHS was instrumental in my understanding them, interpreting them and conquering them.

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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 09/08/04 gwf