Remember the former Manistee High School building

Manistee – Although the former Manistee High School building no longer stands, the memories made within those now demolished walls live on among the alumni and staff who spent time there.

The news attorney has invited people to share some of their favorite memories of being made in the 1927 building.

Charles Olenichak, who graduated in 1957, has fond memories of students rolling balls in the classroom corridors while teachers Charles Hough and Ken Rutherford struggled mightily to restore order.

“It wasn’t that bad, but the teachers were crazy,” Oleniczak said in an interview with News Advocate. “…they were running and…just as the teacher was going to get the ball, suddenly there was a ball going the other way.”
Oleniczak once tried to show Hug some mercy by turning the ball over to him, but there was a lot more to it than that.

Charles Hough
Charles Hough

Photo sent/Charles Olenicak

“(Hough) shook my hand…and said, ‘Now be quiet and get out of it,’ so I just stood there, but another ball was still coming,” Oleniczak said.
Oleniczak wasn’t the only student fond of a well-meaning prank.
“I taped the back stairs so aggressively…with scotch tape in 7th grade one time everyone struggled to walk up and down,” Jodi Fiske said in a Facebook post. “Nobody ever knew it was me, but they locked everything but the middle drawer that day thanks really to you.”
In an interview with News Advocate, John Birchbacher, class of 1963, recalled teacher Hazel Erdmann fostering his love of science—once he managed to transition from home economics to enter her class.
“I had a flag below (on the second floor), which was actually sewing. You’ll always find a lot of pins around,” said Birchbacher. “… I was disappointed that Mrs. Erdmann had some very interesting ways of doing things, and one day in the month was a science fun day when you could do all sorts of experiments.”
Moving on to Erdmann’s class, Birchbacher was free to experiment to his heart’s content – for better or for worse.
“There were three times experiments to set fire to glycerin, water and other materials, and they had to evacuate this part of the building,” he said.
As a student, Birchbacher was one of the students Erdmann chose to accompany her to a teachers’ convention in Grand Rapids.
“Her subject was the gifted child, and she chose four eighth graders to be there,” said Birschbacher. “There I was, Steve Yankee, Ken Callen and Eric Hansen.”
Before experimenting at the conference, Birschbacher, Yankee, Kalin, and Hansen gathered in Erdmann’s classroom for a newspaper photo.

In this 1959 snapshot from Manistee News Advocate, Eric Hansen (left), Steve Yankee, Ken Callen, and John Birschbacher show some experimentation in the former Manistee High School building.
In this 1959 snapshot from Manistee News Advocate, Eric Hansen (left), Steve Yankee, Ken Callen, and John Birschbacher show some experimentation in the former Manistee High School building.

Photo sent/John Birchbacher

“We were excused from attending whatever classes we were in,” Birschbacher said. “She was running a class of sorts but she put this (science) material on and the photographer came and took the picture.”
Some looked back on the friendships they made while attending class in the 1927 building.
“I met my best friend there in 2001 during the eighth grade cheer exams,” Miranda Jo Minton said in a Facebook comment. “I didn’t make a good first impression, but we’ve been close friends ever since—more than 20 years.”
Breanna J. Chycinski said in a Facebook comment that she enjoyed her time in the old high school building.
“So many memories there,” she said. “Fake rock in the hall, dodge in the gym, watch Mr. (Hank) Cobb’s snake eat the road, buy a new pencil from the pen machine – the list goes on.”

Not all memories are cherished, and Judy Ratz recalled hearing about a national tragedy while attending school.
“I was changing ranks when it was announced that President (John) Kennedy had been shot,” she said.
Amanda Benedict was in the building when, nearly 40 years later, another tragedy struck.
“I was in class on the third floor when 9/11 happened,” she said.
Some remembered wearing blue and gold and representing their school in athletic competitions.
“I’ll never forget playing football for MHS FC,” said Rick Willoughby. “Our coach, Art Haig, gave me my nickname: Duke.” “The coach was only at MHS for one year. I think another year under coach Art Haege and the MHS team would have won our division and would have gone far into the playoffs.”
Ryan Tiefenthal considered playing basketball in a gymnasium that many visiting players found to be a difficult place to be.
“In eighth grade basketball, we beat Ludington by six at that gym – ‘The Dungeon,’ as our opponents called it,” he said. “We lost to Ludington by 34 earlier in the year, so I’m confident we’ll outplay it on home soil.” It had some effect.”
Nancy Wade Himminski can still recite the words of wisdom imparted by the esteemed teacher.
“I remember Mr. Anderson always saying, ‘Stay celibate and your pockets will ring,'” she said.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: