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The Bus Stop - Part XV of “I Survived Washington Irving JHS”
HOPEFUL DREAMS - THE BUS STOP - The following is part of a series of articles written by Michael Leavitt about his real life experiences at Washington Irving Junior High School in Los Angeles, California from 1974-1976. The events are true and have been documented to help Michael's family better understand the racial tensions he endured during that era. And even amidst the turmoil, good times were plentiful and proof that even when you are given the sourest of lemons you can still make a great lemonade. If you haven't read the previous entries, then I invite you to enjoy them when you have time.
“DAD, WHAT WAS IT REALLY LIKE FOR YOU IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL?”
CHAPTER 15 - THE BUS STOP - HOPEFUL DREAMS
Memories are an interesting phenomenon. I was going through some funeral photographs of a family friend earlier today and my mind started to wander to the hopeful dreams I had as a 9th grader at Washington Irving Jr. High School in NE Los Angeles, California. As a 9th grader, each day I dreamed of catching just the right Rapid Transit District (RTD) bus so that I might get to see a very special young lady, and some days I timed it just right. This blog entry is dedicated to those fantastic, magical, warm and fuzzy feelings felt in the days of our youth when eye contact is made with just the right person at just the right time and they see into our soul.
Catching the right bus was tricky because my 9th grade school day actually started much earlier in the morning. While my fellow schoolmates were shooting for a first class of the day at about 8 AM, I was up much earlier attending a 5 day a week religious seminary class. That's right, I was up every day about 5:30 AM so that I could leave home in the dark and ride my skateboard the opposite direction from school to the Highland Park Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints over near Franklin High School. My fellow Mormon kids in 9th to 12th grades attended the 6:10 AM class and then at 7 AM we all split up and went our different directions to junior high and high school. I was the only one heading to Washington Irving JHS so I rode my skateboard over to York Blvd. and used my monthly RTD bus path headed towards Eagle Rock Blvd. where the transfer would happen to get me nearer to Washington Irving.
It was important to catch just the right bus, so I would never dally when the "Amen" of the closing prayer in seminary was said. I had one daily early morning dream and that was to see her smiling face on the second transfer bus. Typically my first bus would drop me off with about a 7-10 minute wait at the corner of York Blvd and Eagle Rock Blvd. This was awesome because it allowed me time to practice my 360's, Bert slides, and 50-50 end-over's on the sidewalk and driveway area of the strip mall shown in the main blog photo above. And let's be serious, if I did a skateboard move that was really radical, then it might be timed perfectly for the young lady on the bus to see.
THE YOUNG LADY - This blog entry is in no way meant to embarrass the young lady, so I don't need to mention her by name. Those from my junior high school days can e figure it out. Reflecting back I can't figure out why she was even in our school. She lived very close to Eagle Rock Jr. and Sr. High School and it is now odd to me that she travelled so far to go to school. I think she had perfect attendance, which always inspired me to want to be at school everyday. In fact, she always made me want to be my better self.... But why was it so magical and even make me blush a little today?
It was most definitely youthful puppy love. Inside I was extremely shy while doing my best to be cool and composed. I often had to rehearse what my opening phrase was going to be, or else I would totally freeze up inside and more often than not I would get totally flustered and no words would come out. It was a magical youthful time for me as I learned to get along and interact with the opposite sex. I am certain that I way over-thought our every interaction, but I was winging it pretty much on my own. My brother Jimi was seven years older and he was not much help. My Dad never had any discussions with me about how to relate with girls. I had no best male friends of the day, so I was bound and determine to figure it out all by myself. It was trial and error, with a few crashes and burns, but sometimes I was totally successful.
I hope that all who read this have had those moments when they were younger where somebody would look at you and smile causing your heart to flutter. This young lady definitely had that affect upon me. It is purely magical... The shy boy inside me always wanted to look away when she looked my direction and I was always thankful when I was brave enough to keep her in my gaze and our eyes would connect.
Getting on the transfer bus I would have my skateboard under my arm and flash my bus card to the driver while cautiously, yet eagerly looking towards the back of the bus hoping that she was there. I was only successful about 30% of the time, but as the early morning sunrise would come through the windows of the south rear of the bus, she would light up in a similar fashion to Glen Close standing in the bleachers in her white dress and hat in the movie "The Natural." I think the dramatic music was even playing in my soul when the halo of light radiated around her hair and I would see her smile. Did she plan the affect when she chose her seat on the south side of the bus? Was she glad to see me in the morning? Or was this a one sided event and fabricated by my youthful heart? At that age, who was brave enough to even ask? Surely not me. It was so very difficult to be cool in those days.
Yes, the thought of interacting with this young lady was a great motivator for me to go to school each day, and I was blessed to be able to consider this young lady one of my closest friends of the era. To her I want to say thanks. She helped prepare me to want to be the very best person I could become. Her young motivation and praise helped me to want to find my future wife and be worthy of my future wife's love. It is interesting, because I can trace back many of my adult desires to those younger school days at Washington Irving Junior High School in the 1970's interacting my the girls of my junior high.
I hope you have a great day!
What are your memories of puppy love?
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - Michael@TheHomeInspector.com
NOTE: In my junior high school years there were a handful of young ladies that had the incredible pitter-pat puppy love affect upon me. Each was so influential on me as I learned the rights and wrongs of innocent friendships and courtship. I often flash back to the events of the era and just warmly smile as I sit and reflect.
NOTE 2: Washington Irving Junior High School was 7th, 8th, and 9th grades during my 1974-76 tenure. I see that it is now named Washington Irving Middle School and features 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.
NOTE 3: Washington Irving has changed again. The internet shows it is now called the Irving Magnet School and is painted white and vibrant blue and features grades 5th through 8th. LINK