More ‘Letters To The Editor’

 

Stephen Decatur High School Was Much More Than A Structure

Dear Editor:

     Thank you for the great read on the original Stephen Decatur High School. It tugs on our hearts each time an article is written. She was more than a building in grave physical despair. She was a right of passage for many teens as we grew into adulthood. Stepping unsteadily into the monstrous structure as a Freshman was daunting but after four years, we walked out as Seniors armed and ready to take on whatever the future held.

     Despite decay, an excellent education awaited anyone willing to work for it. Winning sports seasons too may have come and gone but the Runnin’ Reds spirit never faded. Previous school boundaries blended North, Central and South areas together to broaden our circle of knowledge and acceptance of ethnicity and economic backgrounds. Over 40 years has passed since 350 graduating seniors received diplomas for the final time in Kintner Gym on June 4, 1975. Although the Civic Center now stands where she once flourished, our memories, along with those of countless other generations, will never be erased.

     Here’s to you SDHS…You served us well. You housed us in our formidable years and contributed to who we’ve each become today. For that, you have forever earned our respect. Well done my friend!

Scott and Kathleen (Cogan) Arnold

Class of 1975 ‘

Whistle Stop’ Article Stirred Many Memories

Dear Paul:

     What a great experience for me to read of Truman’s appearance in Decatur from the back of a train, campaigning for Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1952. It happens that I was there,

     Paul; I was a 22 year old student at Millikin. That speech was one of the most memorable incidents of my life now, as a retired school teacher of history and government. Both Truman and Stevenson are my greatest “political heroes; they both gave me the appearance as, “one of my neighbors”, that “talked my language” which was not really party politics. And, I was in that crowd at the Wabash De-pot! One part I particularly remember so well was, as you said, “Truman didn’t do any of his famous ‘wisecracking’ during his speech, primarily because it was not a wisecracking speech.” This stood out to me as a political science and history major at Millkin. But let me tell you what really happened! During Truman’s great speech a guy standing in a crowd on the roof of the Wabash Depot yelled, “Give ‘em Hell, Harry”, to which Truman interrupted his speech just long enough to yell back, “This is not a ‘Give ‘em Hell, speech”! Those are direct quotes, Paul; I have never forgotten them! I’m 88 years old (older, than you), and I can close my eyes, put myself back at the Wabash Depot in 1952, and see a replay of all of Truman’s speech. I’ll never forget.

     Personally, I had the greatest respect for both Truman and Adlai Stevenson, and still do. Here is why I had such great respect for Adlai Stevenson. When Stevenson ran for governor, the Democratic Governor candidate, was doomed to lose; the “Chicago Democrat bosses” knew they would lose, so they put up Adlai Stevenson for Governor. Why? Adlai Stevenson had a unimpeachable reputation for honesty and being dedicated to the People and the bosses said to win, Republicans would have to “vote against an unimpeachable Democrat candidate”. Stevenson won the election by a huge majority! Everyone was shocked. More people voted, than ever before. The Democratic “Chicago bosses” then wanted to reap the financial awards of Stevenson’s win; Stevenson would not allow it, saying that was “bad government”.

     The bosses never forgave him (or supported him again, as governor or as a Presidential candidate). This made me like him even more. The bosses and news media said Stevenson was a “patsy”. There was a riot in an Illinois prison when Stevenson was Governor, and the inmates held hostages. Stevenson went to the prison, and Stevenson told the prisoners, “We do not want anything to happen to our people who are your hostages, but we are coming into the prison right now and restoring order.” The prisoners gave up!

     Stevenson ran for President twice against Ike Eisenhower and lost. He then ran again Jack Kennedy in the primary and lost. Kennedy made Stevenson Ambassador to the United Nations. Adlei was famous for his answer to the Soviet Union UN representative, who said he would answer to Stevenson “later”. Stevenson replied, “I am prepared to wait until Hell freezes over, for your answer”. I loved good ol’ Adlei! I have always maintained that Adlai Stevenson was the greatest President that America never elected!

     What impressed me most about Truman was his “earthiness” and being a common man like one of us! To me, the sign on his desk reading, “THE BUCK STOPS HERE”, said it all. He used the atomic bomb wisely to end WWII! He himself served in combat in WWI! Later, after Truman was retired and I was teaching high school, I wrote Truman a letter to him and ask for a picture of him, for my classroom; I sent a dollar for costs, with the request, because I read that celebrities had to pay the cost of portraits. And, I received a “autographed” picture, a letter, and a one dollar bill from President Truman; that autographed picture hangs above me as I write this to you,

     Paul. In his letter, the President said, “Here is the picture you ask for and your dollar bill, there is no charge. I hope the picture brings you no harm!” Actually, I am extremely sentimental. I felt the need to tell you this, but I’m kinda shedding a tear or two now that I have. But thanks so much for the article, Paul. I really needed that!

Richard Blankenburg, Ed.D., San Diego, CA

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