Woodward High School


Tales of the '50s from Both Sides

© 2021, Chuck Klein, Karla Stannard


Though these historically and technically correct stories are fiction, the names used for the characters are all graduates of Cincinnati’s Woodward High School - classes of 1959, 1960 and 1961. These three years, as experienced by teen-agers, have become the defining period of America’s last and greatest period of Perceived Innocence – the tranquil time after WW2 and before Viet Nam, the boomer generation of drugs, open promiscuity and everything else that befell society. In addition to three books set at Woodward, the era has been immortalized by the TV series Happy Days and major motion pictures such as: American Graffiti, The Buddy Holly Story, La Bamba and Peggy Sue Got Married. All, except the latter, were from the boys' view. Perceived Innocence captures both sides.



Karla Goodpasture Stannard

Glory Days
Glory days, days spent
In a wondering haze
First bell, final bell
Now’s no time to tell…

Of first loves
And passions rising.
Dreams of moonlit dances,
Those very special glances.
Is he looking at me?
Oh, can it be?
Yes, we’re strollin’

And stompin’
Swingin’ and swayin’
Feeling the rhythms
Of Jerry Lee and Johnny B
Of youth transforming
Music’s leading to
Forbidden places,
Our bodies warming
Loving his embraces.

Yes, we’re trying to be
But it’s so hard to be Good
These are our story days
Dare we tell If only we could.

Is he the one?
He’s ringing my bell.
He’s so appealing.
With just a touch,
What am I feeling?

Don’t stop.
My senses are reeling.
My resistance Is melting away.
I’m so afraid of the price we’ll pay
For being young and in love
On this, our glorious day.


Chapter 1


Karla Goodpasture Stannard


"Did you find it? Were you able to hide it among your books? Is it your moms? Tell me!"

"Oh, for goodness sakes, Karla, calm down. Yes, it was in mom's underwear drawer."

"Do you think she'll miss it?"

"No, I'll put it back before she gets home from work."

"Is it as bad as everyone says? Did you read the good stuff?"

"Yes. Let's go hide in the restroom so I can show you." As we left our side-by-side lockers Peggy exposed the cover of PEYTON PLACE. Once crammed into one stall, we turned to one of the most scandalous passages: "Is it up Rod?" She panted, undulating her body under his. "Is it up good and hard?"

"Crimanitly, it's worse than you said. Look here a little further on, she's telling him to give it to Allison. Do you think we can find a copy of our own to read? I know you can't keep this one out of the underwear drawer for long."

"I'm planning to go straight home so I can put it back."

"Do you think anyone we know acts like that?"

"I suppose if someone got mad enough and wanted revenge, it might happen."

"I can't think of any of our classmates who would be that bold. Sure, guys try something, but it is our job to hold the line."

"Holding the line's not so easy. Selena was right to be mad. It must have been awful for her. Why is it if a guy scores, he's cool; but a girl falls for a line, she's easy...no longer wife material. Life's not fair."

"You're right, and we better not forget it."


Chapter 2


Chuck Klein


Those of us Weaned on rock & roll;
Have had it melded to our very soul.

"Well...why don't you just go over and ask her out, man?" Randy chided.

"Ah, man. What if she puts me down? How 'bout if you ask her friend Vonne to ask her if she'd go out with me," Sandy pleaded to his buddy, Stert - so called 'cuz many people had a hard time pronouncing his last name, Stertmeyer.

"Come-on, you chicken! The worst that'll happen is you'll end up the laughing stock of Woodward High," Randy rubbed it in.

"She sure is some good-looking chick," Sandy quietly dreamed out loud while sucking on the last of a Coke. "Some buddy you are."

Friday night, after the game, Frisch's was packed. Sandy was lucky and had found an "A-Bomb" stool, the red Naugahyde-topped, chrome pedestal type of bar stools that resembled the mushrooming bomb. Randy, standing next to his fellow sophomore and jostling for position with the throngs of other kids, knocked loudly on the Formica counter top to attract the notice of the overburdened waitress. The knock caught Karla Sue's attention causing her to look directly at Sandy. Instinctively, and before he had time to flush, he gave a quick smile then half turned to his pal with a look of contempt.

Karla Sue, seated in one of the red and white high-back booths, returned his ice breaker with shy down-casting of her soft blue eyes.

One of the football players, a large one, took another's letter sweater and began an impromptu game of keep-away. The white wool garment, emblazoned with a huge blue "W" on each pocket, was passed from student to student amid boisterous shouts of the gridiron players. Sandy waited for the noise to subside before inserting a dime into the counter top jukebox for Bobby Freeman's, Do You Wanna Dance. Rehearsing what he was going to say while inspecting the pleats on his school slacks, Sandy brushed his crew-cut with the palm of his hand and forced himself to start for the booth.


"Hey, Chuck, I just came from inside and that Karla Sue chick is in there. She's in a booth over by the kitchen door," Jimmy advised, sliding into the passenger seat of the mildly customized '51 Chevy convertible.

"Yeah? So, tell me, Cohen, who's she with?" I asked, opening the door carefully so as not to knock the curb-service tray that perched atop the partially raised window.

"She's not with anybody - just a bunch of girls. Before you go chasin' after that sweet young thing would you mind turning on the head lamps so as I can get a Coke or somethin'?"

Now standing outside the car, I had to reach through the open cozy wing to flip the custom light switch illuminating the chrome-plated, half-shielded and Frenched head lights. "Turn 'em off when the car-hop comes - batteries ain't cheap."

"I dig ya, man," Jimmy said, slipping behind the wheel.

I was a Junior at Woodward and had only briefly met the diminutive pony-tailed Karla Sue at an open house the previous week when a few of my fellow car club members, the Knights, had crashed the party hoping to meet new chicks. She was wearing saddle shoes, a pink angora sweater and a heavy, dark, rust colored skirt, that stopped just above her white ankle socks. She wasn't what you'd call built, but she had bright red lips and great big light blue eyes that were always looking up from a downcast slightly cocked head. She had been dancing with two other girls and I just stepped between them, took her hand, spun her once, and as Jerry Lee Lewis's, Great Balls Of Fire, blasted from the speaker system, danced her into a corner.

To the Chantels', Maybe, she told him, as they slow danced, she was 15, lived in Hartwell, her mom was picking her up and she liked cool cars. I really wanted to go out with her not only because she was pretty in a cute sort of way, but she was, well, cool.

Before they parted, I told her to be at Mt. Vernon Frisch's on Friday night. I didn't ask her, I told her knowing it was best to establish who was in control. I had heard the car club's president expound on the importance of always keeping chicks in line and wanted to try out an older man's wisdom. She didn't say anything to my demand - but she didn't say she wouldn't be there. All she did was lower her head, tilt it a little, and look up at me with those huge eyes and a piston melting smile.

With the comb from the back pocket of my jeans, I smoothed my hair while walking toward the restaurant. A fellow rodder called a "hey man" from his '58 Bonny Tri-Power, wanting to know if I was taking a date to the strip Sunday, and did I want to double. I waved, but pretended I didn't hear not wishing to let it be known, I didn't have a date … yet.

Before entering the restaurant, I lit a fresh Camel from the pack in the pocket of my club jacket. Some of the guys always kept their fags rolled up in their t-shirt sleeves, but I thought that was uncool, especially when trying to make it with a chick. In the reflection in the plate glass front windows, I could see my rod. It had taken all of my money from an after-school job and most of my time but it was worth it if chicks dug it. I had installed lowering blocks on the rear, nosed and decked the hood and trunk, Frenched the head and tail lights, removed the outside door handles and rigged solenoids under the front fender to operate the doors. The car was still in primer but I had drawn the outlines for the flame job I was planning to do after another pay-day or two. The interior was rolled and pleated, black corduroy with pink accent panels. Someday I was going to chop the top and slip an Olds Rocket "88" under the hood.

Inside the rowdy burger joint, the harry-high-schoolers crowded me into Sandy as both boys, oblivious to each other's intentions, headed in the same direction. Sandy arrived ahead of his competition, but Karla Sue recognized me first with an, I'm-glad-to-see-you-smile, and a bat-of-the-eye-lashes

With Bobby Freeman pleading on the loud speakers, Sandy, trying to act cool by shaking his shoulders and squinting his eyes to mimic the crooner, whispered, "Well, do ya?"

Karla Sue, giggled, looked to her girlfriends for support then to me for an instant before taking another sip on her Cherry Coke, and saying, as if she didn't know; "Do I what?"

Sandy, still mocking the vocalist of the jukebox, began to feel a little silly, but nonetheless, mouthed the word, "dance" - ready to bop on out of there if she ignored him.

"Dance? Here?" The pert blonde asked looking up from those robin's egg blues.

Straightening up and folding his arms in order to flex his biceps, Sandy continued, "Well, if you want to, Miss Goodpasture. But I was really hoping I might take you to the Phi Ep sock hop tomorrow night and dance with you there."

Suddenly realizing that this songster, this imposter, was trying to cut my time, I half shouted. "Hey Karla Sue, come outside a minute, I want to talk to ya."

Another sip of the virgin Coke, a few giggles and glances to compatriots, and Karla Sue, keeping her head down, looked up out of the corner of her eye at me, "Please, I'm having a Coke with my friends. Why don't you come back later ... Chuck."

Ruffled at being rebuked, I sized up the kid standing next to me with a look of disdain. Though the guy was a little beefier, he was about the same height. I shoved him, but not too hard, saying, "Stay away from my girl, pal. Beat it."

Sandy, with two years of gym team competition under his belt, felt his muscles harden. Though he had never been in a fight he was reasonably sure of himself. Without looking at his attacker he intoned, "Watch who you're shovin', PAL." The word pal was spit out with emphasis but not too much acid as he really didn't want to fight.

I, also not actually looking for a fistfight, looked to Karla Sue saying, "I'll be in my rod. So, whenever you're finished with your Coke come on out. But I can't wait forever, baby." He leaned closer to Sandy, surprised to get a whiff of Sportsman D-Bar, the same deodorant he used - "I meant what I said, pal."

Sandy balled his fists and turned to face this threat as I pivoted toward the door. The girls giggled. The closer I got to the door the more Sandy's chest puffed up. Finally, confident the threat had passed, he resumed his attention for the favor of the perky teenager.

Miss Karla Sue Goodpasture, feigning indifference to the dangerous conditions that had almost been brought to a head on her account, huddled with her booth mates giggling and talking in whispers.

Confidence, overloading his normally bashful demeanor, allowed Sandy to again ask, and in a louder voice, "Excuse me. Could I take you to the hop tomorrow night? I'd really like to ... Karla Sue?" The last sentence was said a little softer.

"Oh yes, I'd love to go. But I'd like to know who I'm going with. I've seen you at school but I don't know your name. Are you in the fraternity?" she asked, sweet as cream.

With visions of ecstasy flashing through his mind and adrenaline surging through his body Sandy stammered, "I'm sorry, I'm, I'm Sandy. Sandy Schwartz and yes, I'm in Phi Ep - well I'm not actually in the fraternity yet, but I am going to rush Phi Ep. If you give me your phone number, I'll call you tomorrow morning and let you know what time I'll pick you up."

Wow! He could hardly believe it. He had stolen the best- lookin' chick in the place right from under the nose of a car-club-jacket-wearin' hot-rodder. His girl my eye! Nevertheless, Sandy, not wishing to push his luck, hopped into his stock '53 Chevy and cut out.

Angry at the way things turned out and mystified as to what a chick like Karla Sue could possibly see in that other cat, I sulked for a few minutes ... until the young lady with the pony tail and the shy blue eyes settled into the rolled and pleated, black corduroy with pink accent panels.

We builders of hot-rod cars,
With twin carbs and dual exhaust,
Know true, true love better,
Than all others on which it is lost.


Chapter 3


Karla Goodpasture Stannard


"Did that just happen? A Phi Ep asked me to his sock hop Friday night. Those guys don't give us the time of day. He must like me; he asked me on a date."

Peggy Arthur and her crew were hanging out with me at Frisch's. Peggy asked, "Did you say, 'Yes?'"

"Yeah, but what can I wear; I don't want to look like a frump. Those rich girls look like they could model for Teen Magazine."

"Don't worry. You'll be fine. Just wear your full skirt with crinolines and your pink angora sweater. The skirt will look really pretty as it flares out during fast dances."

"Will your folks even let you go to a frat dance? A Jewish fraternity?

"My folks let me babysit for the Wolfe's. I'm sure they won't care. They thought it was funny when I told them the Wolfe's wished me Merry Christmas on New Year's Eve. After all, Woodward teaches us, 'Many are the paths to one God.' I'm going."

Sandy had a car so we didn't double date. We went straight to Phi Ep after he met the folks.

"Sandy, that band is rockin' tonight."

"Come on, they're playing our song."

"Well, do-ya do-ya do-ya do-ya
Wanna dance
Well, do ya wanna dance and-a hold my hand
Squeeze and tell me I'm your lover man
Oh bab-ay-ay, do you wanna dance"

"Yes indeed, I live to dance."

The next day Peggy demanded, "Give me every detail. Do you like Sandy? Are you going out again?"
"Oh, Sandy's a great dancer. The dance was amazing."

"So, you're going to see him again, right?"

"Wrong. The dancing was great. But, after the dance the wrestling match in the car spoiled everything. He was a jerk. I think he only took me out because he thought he'd make it to home plate in one date. I told him what he could do with those roving, octopus hands and to take me home... right now."

"Oh, Karla, I'm so sorry. He always seemed okay in class."

"My date with a dreamboat sank at the second pier. How about going to the races with me next Saturday? Maybe hot rods will be more fun than dreamboats."


Chapter 4


Karla Goodpasture Stannard


"Peggy, are you up for something different to do this Saturday afternoon?"

"What do you have in mind?"

"Let's go to the races."

"All of a sudden you're a race fan?" "Well, I am a fan...of Chuck Klein. He's friends with greasers, goys, and Frat guys. He seems to like everybody. Maybe he will like me, the real me."

"He is kind of cute. You know, it’s The Strip, not the races. Chuck’s for sure not a jockey. Pay attention, he has a hot rod not a stock car. You’ll have to get with it if you are interested in Chuck. You’re gonna have to learn about street rods; I heard he can really take a corner. I saw you talking to him at Frisch's the other day. Did he ask you out?"

"Not exactly, but I thought if we saw him at the races, he might."

"Since you put it that way, sure I'll pick you up at noon."

It's race day, and the skies are clear. The track has its own special flavor...the smell of gasoline, dust a flying, the rods a revving. Cool dudes, shades, and leather...it's race day; and the drivers have no fear.

"Gee, I wish Chuck was in first, but second is still pretty grand. I bet he is one happy man."

"Let's go say, 'Hi,' and see what's up."

"You go. I'll stay here and talk to Randy. You get with the plan."

I went down to the pits. "Hi, Chuck."

"Say, I didn't think you'd make it. I'm really glad you came. Did you see me? I pulled trophy."

"Yes, that was so exciting. I'm loving the sound of the engines. Now I know why little boys go 'varoom, varoom.' It's the sound of big boys, and they're just practicing for the day they can varoom, varoom for real."

"Want to go for a Coke after the races? I can give you a ride."

"Let me go tell Peggy. I'll see you in a bit.

"I'm back. I was right! Chuck asked me out for a Coke after the race. You don't have to wait; he'll take me home."

"Call me later to give me the scoop."


Sunday afternoon I had to tell my best friend all about the date.

"Chuck took me for a Coke and then to see the city lights. Eden Park has the best views. Cincinnati has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Mainly, we just sat in the car and talked."

"I bet he tried to kiss you."

"Maybe. He told me in great detail all about building his rod. Bless his heart, if he only knew how little I understood. It didn't matter though; I just liked the sound of his voice."

"Do you even know where the gas cap is?"

"I'm not that dumb about cars. Yes, I know where the gas cap is and that it can be on either side of the car. Chuck is so nice. He listened when I told him how incredible it is to have a baby sister in the house. I bet he’ll bring Tammy a toy when he comes to see me. Smart guys figure out right away the best way to make points with me is to be good to my baby sis."

"You do know that he's Jewish?"

"Sure, but I don't see that as a problem. We are only dating in high school--not getting married for goodness sake. We won’t have to be deciding how to raise kids.”

“Peg, he sang to me. I loved it. He sang Buddy Holly, ‘Pretty, pretty Karla Sue.’ I sure hope he calls. Maybe we better hang up; he might be trying to call now." 


CIRCA 1957

Chuck Klein

Yeah, we were there in the beginning
singing, dancing and spinning,
driving, racing and winning.
To make those days our own,
to make our mark, to set us apart,
then suddenly we were grown.

In the beginning was Elvis and Smokey
the Everly's, Richie and Fats.
Four-on-the-floor or three-on-the-tree
and Darling Come Softly To Me.
The Drifters, The Platters,
Diana and the girls,
who sang the songs of our soul.
Pony tails and fender skirts
and Baby Let The Good Times Roll.

Ricky Nelson and Jackie Wilson,
Little Richard and Jerry Lee,
Hootenannies and Short Fat Fannie
and Oh, Oh Tragedy.
The Stroll and The Stomp and
At the Hop, Twistin' the Night Away,
South Philly and Bo Diddley,
rock and roll was here to stay.

Do you remember Good Golly Miss Molly,
Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly,
Big Bopper and Ben E. King
and Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.
Three-twos and spinner caps,
drive-ins and glass packs,
James Dean and Yakety-Yak
and a screamin' tenor sax.

In the beginning those times were ours
the words, the music, the clothes and the cars,
hot rods and puppy love
and guardian angels up above.
There's not been a time as
close to heaven.......as CIRCA 1957.


About the writers:

Chuck Klein, WHS, 1960, is the author of Circa 1957, the first coming-of-age novel set at Woodward.

Karla Goodpasture Stannard, WHS 1961, is the author of RECIPES and MEMORIES From the LILAC BUSH PLAYHOUSE Food for Body and Soul, 1996 (out of print)


The Woodward-set books:

Circa 1957, 2nd Edition, Coming-of-age: Girls, Cars and Rock & Roll, Chuck Klein

ONE MORE DANCE BEFORE I DIE, An American Love Story, Robert Risch (WHS 59)

THE CHROME PLATED YEARS, Almost True Stories of Growing up in a Magical Time, Randy Stertmeyer (WHS 60)