Ray 1954 - 1957
June 25, 1939
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Ray Age 15 - 18

My High School years attending Catalina H.S.

During my years of growing up, Tucson, was booming in population due to the growing number of WWII Baby Boomers.  New schools needed to be built and my High School along with a number of other High Schools in Tucson were under construction.

At the time I was attending Jr High we had the 7th, 8th and ninth grades all in one school.  That school was called Catalina Jr. High School.

Since I was a ninth grader when I started High School, I never had the chance to be a High School Freshman.

I lived in the North East end of Tucson and the only High School I could attend was old Tucson High which was down town Tucson.  During those years we had a split shift so we could share the school facilities.  For half the year we started class at 6 AM in the morning and finished at 12 noon.  The next half we started at noon and finished in the dark at 6 PM.

Contributed by Margie Wagner Fangmeier '58 

It became apparent in 1953 that Tucson's population had grown significantly after WWII and the city was in need of more than one high school. So the Tucson Public School's governing board voted to build two new high schools. One was to be named Pueblo High School with Elbert Brooks as its principal, and the other to be named Catalina High School with Rollin T. Gridley as its principal. 

In the fall of 1954, a total of 6.800 high school students attended Tucson High School. It was the largest high school in the nation. All students were Tucson High Badgers. Most students living north of 6th Avenue attended classes in the morning session while most students living south of 6th Avenue attended classes in the afternoon. The following year, the sessions were reversed. 

Beginning the fall of 1955, the north students became officially Catalina High School students. The south students became Pueblo High students. Those students living within the boundaries of Tucson High remained Tucson High students. In April 1956, Pueblo High School students moved to their new facility near Sentinel Peak (A Mountain). 

After another semester at Tucson High, the doors of the newly constructed, but not totally completed, campus opened to its first student body on January 17, 1957. Catalina High School finally had a home of its own. The very first senior class graduated May 31, 1957.

In our 1957 Catalina High School year book 'The Torch', the following was written by our Principal, R.T. Gridley:
Out of the Desert We Grew

      The students who entered the new Catalina High School plant in January 1957 will long remember the excitement, confusion, pride and awe that was felt during the first week of occupation.  The structure was completed and ready for classes by January 21,  The building contains seventy-nine class rooms, including one library, a unique circular auditorium, one of the largest gymnasiums in Arizona, a girl's gymnasium which is separate from the main gym, cafeteria, and a complete wing of administration offices, just to mention a few of the outstanding area of the plant.

      To quote R.T. Gridley, principal of C.H.S.: "The beautiful buildings were constructed for the pupils -- they were considered first.  There is no 'gingerbread'; every foot of space is utilized." Perhaps this statement will serve equally well in portraying the student's reactions toward the $2,933,314.88 structure.  With the passing of every day, the student body becomes more aware of the luxurious, but functional design of the buildings.  A ramp extending from the first to the second floor of the main classroom wing makes it less breathtaking to climb the height, the school-wide PA system saves much time and walking for administrators and students; there is chute on the outside of the library to make it easier for the students to return books ... for all this we are thankful.

      Catalina High School has begun to unfold after two years of planning, designing and construction, and we hope that each year will find it growing more successful in everything it plans and represents.

Some comments classmate 
Burt Schneider remembers 
overhearing in 1957.

(1) "I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, its going to be impossible to buy a weeks groceries for $20.00."

(2) "Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long when $5,000 will only buy a used one."

(3) "If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous."

(4) "Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?"

(5) "If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store."

(6) "When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage,"

(7) "Kids today are impossible. Those ducktail hair cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls,"

(8) "I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying damn in "Gone With The Wind", it seems every new movie has either hell or damn in it."

(9) "I read the other day where some scientists thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas."

(10) "Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday that they will be making more than the President."

(11) "I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now"

(12) "It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet."

(13) "It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire  someone to watch their kids so they can both work."

(15) "I'm just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business."

(16) "Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. . . I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to Congress."

(17) "The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on."

(18) "I guess taking a vacation is out of the question now days. It costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel."

(19) "No one can afford to be sick any more, $35.00 a day in the hospital is too rich for my blood

We will always thank the owners of Ronstadt's Hardware Store in Downtown Tucson for their best Gift to the world

Next chapter in my life: Ray 1958-1961  back to Ray's Family Tree.