Monday, November 16, 2015


Things have certainly changed since the early to mid seventies as far as a cafeteria in a high school is concerned.  I first noticed this when I went back to my old high school, Ruskin, for a community meeting one weekend.  There was a machine in that room that I had never seen when I was attending.  It was a soft drink vending machine.   When I was in school, all the way from kindergarten until I graduated in December of 1974, our choice of drink of milk.  They did give us a choice though.  We could have white or chocolate milk but a Coke for lunch?  Not going to happen.

When my son was in high school and we would have meetings in the cafeteria at Bishop Hogan or O'Hara, vending machines had grown from just one soft drink machine to two or three drink machines, a candy machine, and a few other machines designed to keep the kids healthy and awake for the remainder of the day.

To be fair, there were treats in the morning before school if you got there early enough.  The special education class of Ruskin would sale donuts and coffee every morning.  Not exactly a vending machine but at least it wasn't the no choice that happened at lunch at the school.  There was a group of about six of us who would arrive at school early and have some social time with donuts and coffee before starting another boring day.

There was but one vending machine in the Ruskin cafeteria when I attended that great school.  It was a vending machine of music, otherwise know as a jukebox.  This juke box was, of course, before the days of the compact disc and so it was filled with 45 rpm records.  It was the juke box in the cafeteria that i began to accumulate information concerning the flip side. or "B" side of the hit side that groups released.  It became a hobby of mine to learn, to memorize which songs were on a 45 rpm record.  From this I spread my knowledge of records to include label, label color, group, the writer of a song, the year it was released, the album it was taken from (although there were plenty of singles that were released only as singles not appearing on an album) onto learning the producers and any other kind of knowledge that could be learned about a record or album.  It was an interesting hobby as long as the music was interesting and for me the music ceased to be that interesting around the mid eighties.

There must have been a hundred songs on that juke box but few songs were played on a regular basis.  Everyday at lunch, there seemed to be a play list that was required to be played over the lunch period.  Everyday the same songs seemed to be played and from this playlist a string of songs are embedded in my memory.  When I hear these songs today, a lot of times my mind wanders back to the lunch periods in high school.

I am going to make a list here of the songs that I remember being played constantly during my years at Ruskin.  I am sure that some of my classmates may have other songs that they remember and I would really appreciate it if some of my classmates would send in songs that they remember.    The songs I am going to list are probably the songs I appreciated the most, not necessarily all the songs that were played daily.

Here are the songs that click in my mind as the songs that were played most often (not in any particular order):

Summer Breeze - Seals and Crofts
Without You - Harry Nilsson
Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
Rock and Roll - Led Zeppelin
Garden Party - Rick Nelson
Foot Stompin' Music - Grand Funk Railroad
Closer To Home - Grand Funk Railroad
Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Misty Mountain Hop - Led Zeppelin
Levon - Elton John
Make It With You - Bread
China Grove - The Doobie Brothers
Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones
One - Three Dog Night
Chest Fever - Three Dog Night
Share The Land - The Guess Who
Bus Rider - The Guess Who

Those are the songs that pop into my mind as I think about those lunches at the school.  It doesn't seem like they ever changed the records in the juke box the whole time I was at Ruskin.  Every year the same songs, with the same numbers were there.  It played the songs at a fairly high volume and it seems like the juke box was constantly playing leaving silence behind during each lunch period.

Loved that juke box.  Taught me a lot of music.  In a way it was continuing our education clean through the lunch periods. 

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