Monday, March 3, 2008

Junior high alumni return for anniversary


When Santa Barbara Junior High School first opened its doors in August 1932 at its Cota Street site, about 400 students enrolled. Seventy-five years later, a group of those students returned to the school to describe their experience at the cherished Santa Barbara landmark.
Seven former students of those early years, the few remaining alumni from the inaugural classes, sat in the school’s Globe Theatre on Monday and recounted fond memories. On the eve of a diamond anniversary celebration planned for this weekend, their remembrances of the school were especially poignant.

“I made friends here that I still have today,” said Vincent Cavallero, a graduate of the 1937 class.
Cavallero described how he used to come to the site of the school before it was built, then a city dump, to search for wheels for his wagon. Years later, he returned to the mechanical field, serving as a captain and master mechanic with the city fire department for 38 years.
“I was always very mechanic-minded,” he said.
Although their memories have undoubtedly faded with time, the group of inaugural alumni seemed to have little trouble conjuring up names of their favorite teachers, their best subjects and what they enjoyed most about going to the junior high.
“The food was outta this world,” said Bob Mullaney, a 1933 graduate. Paying 25 cents for lunch, he said, was well worth it.
He also commended the many classes of students during the past 75 years for taking care of the school, describing it as virtually the same in appearance as when he attended, with the notable exception of the recently refurbished Marjorie Luke Theatre.
Mario Borgatello, the class president in 1933, recalled coming from Montecito Union School, which had about 15 students at the time, to the much larger junior high.
“Of course we had a nice school in Montecito,” he said, “but we didn’t have that many students.”
Even at a young age, the head of Marborg Industries had a distinct business streak. Although he received 20 cents a day from the school for bus fare, he said he usually walked or got a ride from his sisters, pocketing the cash.
A classmate of Borgatello, Angelo Ferrario came to Santa Barbara with his family in 1925. While he did fairly well at woodshop, he admittedly struggled while taking up the violin.
“By the third or fourth lesson, the teacher looked at me and said, Angelo, why don’t you go play basketball,” he said.
Although perhaps not the greatest musician, Ferrario recalled several lines from a school song he used to sing with classmates at athletic games and events.
“Hail Santa Barbara Junior High, proud are our colors flying, with love and hope undying, we raise our colors to the sky, our own glorious junior high,” he sang.
Adeline Taverna Tomborg, another ’33 grad who may have helped Ferrario belt out that tune as a song leader, said sports was always her passion. After graduating from high school, she joined a softball team based at Pershing Park that traveled up and down the coast to compete.
“That’s why my knees are kerplunk,” she said. “I was a catcher.”
One night, her team played on donkeys, she said, hitting the ball, hopping up into the saddle and trying to get the animals to run the bases. Another night, they all dressed up in costumes and took the field.
“We laughed so much at each other, we could hardly play,” she said.
Charlotte Baker Woods, a 1933 graduate and lifelong Santa Barbara resident, said her favorite course was typing. Those skills definitely paid off later in life, when she worked as an auditor and bookkeeper for Sears, Roebuck and Co. Unlike Cavallero, who enjoyed being outside in the fresh air, she said gardening was her least favorite activity at the junior high.
“I couldn’t stand getting my hands dirty,” she said.
Although the group of alumni gathered at the school on Monday for a brief reunion of sorts, they are expected to return for the main celebration on Saturday, when hundreds of guests are expected to enjoy a vintage slide show and historical tours of the campus, among other festivities.

No comments: