Memory Lane

Do you have any candid photos from our high school years with you and any of our classmates?  We can add your memorabilia here.


The big sign in front of Kiel announced to the world – or that portion of it passing 14th and Market – that the Hazelwood High School graduation would be held at 8 p.m. June 4. Knots of well-dressed people collected on the WPA-Gothic promenade before puffing up the concrete ramps into the labyrinthine vastness of Convention Hall.
Those kids in the yellow gown knew where to go. They lined up in precise order – all 874 of them – in the central portion of the perimeter hall. The relatives didn’t fare so well. Soon they found the gates to the main floor closed with another dozen ramps in front of them leading straight to peanut heaven. But up they went anyhow.
On a signal, the platform guests came out—the Board president, vice president, top administrators, class officers and the graduates on crutches.   Simultaneously, the organist hit a fat C chord, and then into Pomp and Circumstance—old Land of Hope and Glory. And in came the graduates.
Four abreast they came, striding in military fashion, in a hurry to get it over with. Despite the pace, it took seven minutes to fill those chairs. Dale Henselmeier, the class host, announced that Ellen Niehaus would give the invocation, and the audience remained standing as the steady rumble of conversation died away.
Some of the seniors had trouble concentrating on the prayer. One hundred thirty-seven of them had been in the Hazelwood Schools for 13 years. They remembered starting kindergarten in 1955—part of a total of 294 pupils at the end of that year. That was the first year Hazelwood had a kindergarten, and only the second year of the high school. Some of them had attended five or six schools out of the same house, their parents doing their best to cope with the growth of the school district. They saw the rolling farm land converted into acres of houses.
Some of the administrators had trouble concentrating too, as their thoughts flashed back to the days when they were classroom teachers. And the parents remembered when the graduate was splashing strained applesauce all over the tray of his high chair, and the time when they themselves were just as rosy of cheek, walking down a smaller aisle somewhere, hearing another organ pound out the same old tune.
Jackie Tuberville came to the rostrum to deliver her address, “With Eyes to See and Understand.” And then Miss Nancy Owens directed her Hazelwood High School choir through the inspirational “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and the other familiar strains of the Alma Mater. Michael Rudloff gave his address, “Much More Than Money.”
The young Henselmeier introduced the principal Laurence J. Fuqua to acknowledge the honored graduates. Fuqua put on his glasses in preface to reading his remarks when the applause subsided. Trouble was, the applause didn’t subside. It grew. And soon the seniors were on their feet, and the curious expression on Fuqua’s face changed to a broad smile. They gave the man a hard time for three years, and he gave it right back with interest.
Don’t let Mr. Fuqua see you if your haircut is a half-inch too much. He could be tough when he had to be and he had to be often. Few could laugh it off when Fuqua clamped down. Yet, Fuqua like and respected those kids. The standing ovation was their way of letting him know they liked and respected him too. The mutual admiration society was hard at work.
After Fuqua’s observation on the achievements of the class of 1969, Dr. C. O. McDonald, superintendent, addressed the group, handling the English language in a way that let the seniors know they still had a lot to learn.
When Board president Randolph W. Norris took the rostrum they knew their 13-year tenure as Hazelwood students had only minutes to go.
Then, in columns of twos, they lined up in a row at at time before the wooden steps. The harsh lights of the automatic cameras glared on. “Brenda….Kay…Abernathy” intoned on speaker, “George…William…Adams…..Jr. said another, and the students mounted the stage to receive their diplomas from Norris, some from Senator Robert L. Prange, Board vice-president. Few were able to conceal their elation as they moved their tassel to the other side of the mortarboard.
Four-five minutes after Abernathy came “Terrace…Charles…Zipfel,” and it was over. The applause came from the relatives – nearly 6,000 of them. Then the graduates broke into cheers of ecstasy. Ray Stranghoener managed to deliver the benediction, and once again the organ was heard as the graduates stood to file out of the hall. Those in the front rows timidly approached the floral bouquets, then snatched flowers right and left when they saw nobody really cared.
Back in the great hallway they searched anxiously as their parents squirmed into the area. The mothers found their sons and daughters—one by one—and then there were some moments of intense emotion. Who cares about a little strained applesauce at time like this?
Note: There is one error in the story – it took and hour and 45 minutes for all the graduates to walk across the stage – not 45 minutes.