A Visit Home – August 12, 2017
My tour of Lisle Schools began while I was home visiting during a weekend in August. Saturday morning, I cut through the back yard, as I always did, and started to walk to Schiesher School. I was on Meyer Drive and just a few houses into my walk I glanced to my right to see Mr. McCoy’s house. I continued my walk now on Meadow Lane and I was surprised that in just a few moments I was passing Mrs. Fiore’s house and soon I was at the path. There will be no more skidding your stingray cheater slicks at the bottom of the hills of the gravel paths in Oakview, since the paths to Schiesher are now concrete, but I will still refer to them as paths. The chain-link fence that once restrained a very large dog across the path from Mr. Bartelt’s house has been replaced giving the occupants of the upgraded home their privacy. I crossed Larkspur Lane and as I continued along the path I remembered the beautiful flower gardens that were in the yard to my left. Then there I was on the grounds of Schiesher, where I spent seven years as a student. As memories started flooding my thoughts, it seemed like all the years disappeared. I continued on the path and I was pleased to see a “W” in the window of what was my Fifth Grade classroom. The sign in the window reminded me of the green hand signs that were in the windows of many homes in the neighborhoods of Lisle. I sat on the concrete bench near the entrance to my Kindergarten and looked across the playground where I made so many friends. I also felt my first heartache on that playground. I remember bouncing on the low rail of the bike rack when a kid told me that he didn’t like my mother, the playground supervisor. “If you don't wear your boots, you can't play in the snow.” I remember swinging on the chain-link swings that were at the top of the hill watching my brothers’ little league games. The swings were replaced by the wood fort that overlooked the baseball field. Everyone swung upside down from the low-high monkey bars. Only the older kids would dare to walk on top of the fort made from tree trunks of various heights and only the very brave would walk all the way to the end of the tallest and jump to the ground. I was one of those that carved two sets of initials in a heart on the bare oak tree that was positioned for children to climb. One of my favorite challenges during recess was to climb the concrete fixture that was on the north side of Schiesher by the small gym entrance. I think it was some sort of drainage culvert. All these play structures are only in my memories now. I walked across the parking lot where we all lined up before school and played Red Rover during gym class, and then I crossed Kingston Avenue. I glanced to my left at the space in the sky where the green water tower stood. I continued my walk on the path alongside Wilde Field. I entered the fence and went onto the track and to the memorial rock and flag pole. As I continued to walk the grounds of Lisle Junior High School (Lisle Community High School), I thought about how I was looking forward to October when I would be able to go into the schools of Lisle during the All-Years Reunion weekend.
Wake Up! It’s Time to Go to School! - October 7, 2017
Saturday morning came quickly after the drive from Minnesota, football game at IBC and late night at Evviva! with several classmates from the Class of 1982 and other Lisle Alumni. So not to have to obey a curfew over the weekend, my sister Becky from the Class of 1973 and I chose to stay at the Hyatt and attend the weekend’s events together. I only get one, for the rest of my story she is now Rebecca. We planned on touring Schiesher School and the Lisle Junior High School (Lisle Community High School) and we also wanted to attend the team photos for Coach Nalley at Wilde Field. There was no time to primp and since my sister was waiting in the lobby, I put my wet hair in a ponytail (much like early mornings rushing to catch the bus to Lisle High) and Barbie headed down the elevator.
“School Bell Rings” – Form a Line
As we entered Schiesher School we both ran into classmates. After a little conversation with members from our respective classes, we started our tour with my Kindergarten room which was near the circle driveway entrance. I still remember gathering around on the floor in front of Mrs. Fellendorf for story time and playing house and hoping a boy would want to be my husband for the day. Then down the hall to my First, Second and Third Grade classrooms where I memorized the alphabet backwards and I always held hands with a special boy during movies in social studies. My sister and I went up the stairs, down the hall, past the lunch line and into the small gym. I just can’t explain the bits of memories that rushed into my head; gym class and trying to climb the rope, scooters, rows of lunch tables, the student government parade, tours from the high school musical productions, spaghetti dinners, Christmas Bizarre, Girl Scout meetings, and more. We passed my Fourth and Fifth Grade classrooms and the memory of that day they separated the girls from the boys entered my mind! And then the music room where we all learned to play the recorder and later I learned the flute in the band. I believe the Schiesher Grade School and Schiesher Junior High (my Sixth Grade) were separate buildings and during my time there they constructed a hallway to join them and for a time classes were held in portables out on the school lawn. I don’t know if it was the room, but I was speechless when we entered the Learning Center.
The big gym has not changed, and we were surprised the same bleachers are still there. Again, I was overwhelmed with memories; gym class with the huge beach ball and what I think was a parachute, square dancing, basketball games, assemblies, spelling bees, choir and band concerts. One school assembly we watched Born Free in the gym and I cried and cried for Elsa the Lion. I remember watching my older sisters during a choir concert and my father told me that someday I would sing on that stage. We walked around the gym for a few minutes and then we were at the stairs!
The stairs led up to the Junior High (my Sixth Grade). I remember being very young and being afraid to walk up those stairs, so I just waited at the bottom for my siblings to come down from their lockers. The stairs seemed so much higher when I was a child. They are still scary but now because of my old knees! We walked up the stairs and into the school office and immediately Rebecca pointed to a spot on the floor where she had to kneel in front of Principal McCoy to have her skirt measured, like all the girls it had to be at least four inches from the floor. I don’t remember wearing skirts to junior high or high school unless it was my drill team uniform. Oh, that’s right she was from the generation of miniskirts and bell bottoms. The only time I spent in Principal DiBuono’s office was to run worksheets on the mimeograph machine. Oh, the smell of those damp blue worksheets! We went down my Sixth Grade hall (Junior High) and I only wanted to visit Mrs. Sullivan’s room, because she was the best teacher ever! I stood at the now white board in front of the classroom and got chills. I have such fond memories of Sixth Grade and especially Mrs. Sullivan. I remembered the pain of the day when I put my chair upside down on my desk for the last time knowing I was going to miss her. Out the entrance, down the stairs, into the parking and on to Lisle Junior High School (Lisle Community High School) we went.
Generation C & Generation J – L.C.H.S & L.J.H.S.
I have mixed memories about Lisle Community High School a.k.a. Lisle Junior High School. I have my own memories from attending L.J.H.S. for my Seventh & Eighth Grades and coming back to this building for events as a L.S.H.S. student. I also have memories of being the baby sister of siblings who attended L.C.H.S. So basically, I spent twelve years in Junior High! Today, as usual we went straight into the Commons where our friendships and social status were created so many years ago. I ran into a classmate and during my conversation with her, my sister disappeared. I guess she decided to walk the halls of her High School without me. Detour… I am the youngest of seven and my sister Rebecca had to babysit me. She took me everywhere with her, school functions, football games, the bonfires, snake dances, carnivals in the gym with the stockades, (what was that all about?), I even went on a few of her dates. Oh, and I was there during the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! leap frog contest. So, I guess she didn’t want me hanging around with her today.
Sock Hop to Disco
The blue center curtain in the gym is no longer there. I guess too many students, like me and Stevie Henson, tried to hold onto it as another student flipped the switch. Stevie was so funny, you are missed my friend. Again, many memories; gym class on the trampoline, dodge ball, basketball games and performing in the drill team. Dreams were made, and hearts were broken in that gym. Fort Night! The anticipation of the boys walking around the gym to the music and picking the next girl from the bleachers. Us, girls counting the boys in the line and trying to re-arrange our sitting order to line up with whichever boy we liked that week. And hoping to at least be partnered with a boy that is taller than you! We learned the waltz, the fox trot, the cha-cha-cha, the swing and yes, the Hustle! I must give a shout out for Disco Daryl. I have such fond memories of dancing with him at the Eighth Grade Graduation Dance in June 1978. We were swing dancing and our classmates formed a circle around us and then he broke out into a solo. Love you Daryl Barnes, you brought Joy to this World! I have heard stories about and seen pictures of Sock Hops in the gym, but that is not my story. In the hallway outside the gym right where I remember taking a photo with my parents for my Eighth Grade graduation, I ran into a couple and I believe she said she was from the class of 1959. She said she couldn’t believe the athletic field was named after the janitor, Mr. Wilde. She told me how nice he was and that he really cared about the students. She said when she needed a break he would let her just sit in his room to escape and relax.
Sing and Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
There was no sight of my sister Rebecca, so I continued my tour alone and went down the hall and past the bathrooms. I walked through the wooden bench and display case area and recalled all nine of us stood for a picture outside the auditorium in 1970, when my oldest brother, Russell graduated from L.C.H.S. Then I went into the auditorium, where I spent much of my time. I remember falling asleep in the chairs of the many, long, very long concerts for my older siblings who were in the choir and all played an instrument in the band. When I was older I remember sitting in the chairs scanning the student body hoping to sit near the boy that I liked to pass him a note during the all school assembly. I remember the noise of the mini desktop clanging next to my leg. I continued my tour and walked quietly down the aisle and up the wooden steps and on to the stage. The sound of those wooden steps and my first step on the stage floor in the quiet auditorium! Oh my goodness! It was amazing to be on that stage again. As I walked to center stage I remembered the countless times I had butterflies in my stomach before the dark blue velvet curtains opened; standing on the risers hoping not to faint, sitting in folding chairs with a music stand in front of me, standing behind a podium giving a speech for the student government elections, anticipating my next line in the play and trying not to let the audience hear my nervousness when I delivered it, accepting my Eighth Grade diploma from Mr. McCoy, dancing in the chorus of the high school musicals, performing with the drill team in the high school talent shows, singing solo in the high school talent show, performing in the Chamber Choir. My list of memories of being on that stage goes on and on. I looked at all the empty chairs and sang my solo and danced my routine as Tessie Tura from the 1981 Spring musical Gypsy. I had a very attentive audience. I then took a moment to remember young Amy Lawrence, the town flirt that kissed Tom Sawyer on that stage. Big hugs to you Tyler LeCrone, you are missed. I went to the back wall of the stage and pulled the curtain aside to see if there was a scene painted on the wall and sadly there was not. I then exited stage right and went into the music room.
Every Good Boy Does Fine
What a room! I met and chatted with a brother of one of my classmates and then five ladies walked in from the back hallway. I asked them what class they were from, which coincidentally they were also from my sister’s Class of 1973. I was going to text Rebecca to find out where she was and tell her to come to the music room, but then I heard her talking to someone in the hallway. Oh, the noise in that music room when my sister joined them. The reunion had begun! Then in walked my classmate and during our conversations I found out she also has a sister from the Class of 1973. Of course, Rebecca had to up me on the writings on the chalkboard “The Class of ’82 was here” as she wrote “The Class of 1973 is the best class ever”. I should have used the staff chalk holder!
The Mirror of Dreams
The highlight of my school tour was standing in front of the mirror in the music room. I thought about the many times I looked at myself before going on stage; checking my choir gown, adjusting my band blazer and tie, checking the bow behind my yellow gingham dress as Amy Lawrence in Tom Sawyer, and my pigtails as a town girl in The Music Man, catching a glimpse of my black and white ascot hat in My Fair Lady, and adjusting the very small costume, I guess just the butterfly as Tessie Tura in Gypsy. Then I realized that this mirror had probably been here forever. My siblings would all have done the same before their choir and band concerts, graduation, talent shows and their musicals; Annie Get Your Gun, The Sound of Music, Oliver, and Guys and Dolls. There probably was a Roberts in this room every year from 1966 to 1982
How many wonderful talents of Lisle have looked in this mirror? What did they see? What did they dream? Did they believe? Did their dreams come true? How many young talented students will look in this mirror in the future? Many amazing people have passed through these halls, been in this room, looked in this mirror, and I am extremely grateful to be one of them.
After I met up with my sister I found out I missed her performance of Adelaide from the 1973 Spring musical Guys and Dolls. She too had a very attentive audience. We went down the back hallway and around to peek in the library then headed to the Commons because there was one last and very important place we had to see.
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
During my older sibling’s high school years our mother was the head cook of the school cafeteria. Yes, my mother was the lunch lady and I was her little helper! The kitchen looked exactly how I remembered it. I would arrive early in the morning with my mother and nap or do my worksheets in her office while she got to work on your lunches. My favorite chore was helping her open the huge chocolate pudding cans. I didn’t like when the menu was mystery meat and gravy on mashed potatoes, she brought home the leftovers! I would help my mom or stay in her office until it was time for me to walk to Schiesher. Now it was time for us to run to Wilde Field for the team photos.
On Ye Lions!
I remember Wilde field when there was just a wooden snow fence around the track. I stood on the seats to see the Boy Scouts raise the flag and I thought I was so special to stand with my hand over my heart and sing. The bleachers were wooden and bouncy and open on the ends and were full of dedicated fans week after week with their cowbells. When the very large football team came running from the school their cleats were very loud when they ran in the gravel parking lot. There wasn’t room for the band to sit in the bleachers, so they sat in folding chairs on the black cinder track at the end of the bleachers. My brother Rich played on the football team and all four of my brothers; Russ, Rich, Roy and Randy ran on the track team. Four of the Roberts’ marched in the band. I can remember thinking how cool my sister Beth was in the color guard twirling the rifle and that I wanted to do that someday. I just must take this opportunity to say, John Deffner!
1978 to 1982… I played the flute in the marching band my Freshman year and wore the same wool uniform and 3-foot-tall hat that my siblings wore. I was also in the color guard but by 1978 the rifles were retired, so we only used the flags. I performed with the State Champion Lionettes during halftime my Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.
Back to 1972… My mother, Rebecca, Beth and I helped with the food preparations in the school and carried bins to the white A-Frame snack bar. The best snack was the Affy Tapples and of course on cold rainy days the hot chocolate. I must have been very young because I remember going to the games with Rebecca and sitting on the lower boards of the bleachers where people stood and having my hands and head on the seats like a desk. I remember sitting there and seeing moccasins on the feet in front of me and very long knitted scarfs dangling with pompons on the ends. There often was conversation in the stands about a boy, a classmate of mine who was also at every football game. He was the smallest Quarterback on the field. He was probably only 3-1/2 feet tall and maybe 45lbs, or 50lbs with his shoulder pads and helmet. Yes, Johnny Nalley was right next to Coach Nalley through all those early games and his sister Karla was also on the sidelines in her cheerleading outfit.
October 7, 2017… After a whistle from Coach Nalley, everyone got in position and I took many pictures of Coach Nalley and Coach Jones with their athletes. Coach Nalley spoke his words of wisdom followed by speeches of gratitude from many of his athletes. As I was going down the stairs of the now aluminum bleachers I saw John Nalley on the track and tapped him on the shoulder to say, Hi.
Back to 1972… After the Schiesher school bell rang, Johnny and I walked along the gravel path together and if we went right at Mr. Bartelt’s house we were going to Johnny’s house to play catch in his backyard. Yes, before anyone caught a pass from Number 16 at Wilde Field, I caught several in a backyard in Oakview.
October 7, 2017… Rebecca and I stood in the stands on that sunny October Saturday morning as we did many years ago. Many may remember seeing Becky & Barbie in the stands cheering for the Lisle Lions. Becky was the cool one in hip huggers and braids in her hair and Barbie was the one with caramel on her cheeks. I remember standing next to Becky in the bleachers, holding her hand, looking up at her in awe, not really understanding what was going on around me but knowing, and trusting and believing I wanted to be just like her. I was a born to be a Lion.
Barbara (Barbie) Roberts – Class of 1982, Class President
Randy Roberts – Class of 1980
Roy Roberts – Class of 1978
Beth Roberts – Class of 1974
Rebecca (Becky) Roberts – Class of 1973
Richard Roberts – Class of 1971
Russell Roberts – Class of 1970
Mrs. Jean Roberts – L.C.H.S Head Cook, Schiesher Playground Supervisor
Mr. Russell C. Roberts – District 202 School Board Member
See you at the next All-Years Reunion - TBD
I hope you enjoyed my tour of Schiesher School - Lisle Junior High School and Lisle Community High School - Lisle Junior High School and Wilde Field. Please support the Carlin Nalley Foundation and attend the next All-Years Reunion and go back in time for a weekend and experience those wonderful memories from your time at Lisle Community High School and Lisle Senior High School.