Rocker Billy Squier helps Wellesley High turn out the lights

Wellesley High School, Wellesley, MA, Built in 1938

Wellesley High School, Wellesley, MA, Built in 1938

When I heard that my beloved Alma Mater was coming down, I was distraught, but this time not really for historic preservation reasons. Although the school was built in 1938, and is technically “Art Deco”, there are undoubtedly more beautiful examples of that style around. It’s a solid, no-nonsense brick building, and certainly serviceable as a high school. [I guess I should add that by West Coast standards, it’s pretty fabulous, and “very New England”.]

But that school gets me on an emotional level that few buildings do, solely from all the amazing memories attached to the place. For example, on “Senior Skip Day”, when I threw a water balloon into a classroom, and it whizzed past the teacher’s head and went straight out an open window, not exploding on anything! In fact, the teacher didn’t even know it happened. But all the students saw it and completely broke out laughing.

Or, the time that someone switched the gas hoses with the water hoses in science class. That was a thrill! Or the time we shellacked Mr. Scafati’s chalk. What a hoot! He wrote on the board, but nothing happened! [These were simpler times, to be sure…]

Apparently quite a few other people felt the same way I did, and Jeanie Goddard, a retired Wellesley High English teacher, decided to put together a “last hurrah” celebration for everyone.

Now as luck would have it, on my last visit to Wellesley, in June, some friends and I decided to take our own little trip down memory lane ~ and thank God we did. Walking through that high school was like a trip back in time. Virtually nothing had changed, except us.

From “The Swellesley Report“, November 27, 2011

Billy Squier

Billy Squier

“Rock singer and guitarist Billy Squier, a 1968 graduate of Wellesley High School, helped the school “turn out the lights” Saturday night, playing old hits like “In the Dark” and “Everybody Wants You” before a packed house at the WHS auditorium. Tickets to the event sold out quickly after The Swellesley Report noted on Nov. 4 that Squier would be appearing and local press tripped over each other in recent weeks to interview the singer.

Squier appeared by himself on stage, first sharing a few stories about his days in Wellesley, including a run in with the law (“an off campus incident”) that nearly put the kibosh on a school play he was starring in.”

My friend Ellen Dixon and I used to walk home from school, right by Billy’s house. This was our “brush with fame”, although we didn’t know it at the time.

[From] Turn Out the Lights, a week long celebration of “the old” Wellesley Senior High School, began on November 20th with a presentation in the Wakelin Room at the Wellesley Free Library.

“We wanted to acknowledge what wonderful things happened in this building for 73 years,” said organizer Jeanie Goddard, a retired Wellesley High English teacher, “and all the terrific alumni who have studied there and gone on to glorious adventures, and just this sense of place that we all have. All the haunts have been shared by generations of Wellesley High students.”

The library presentation included a video depicting the architectural history of the school, which was built in 1938. Other events include a panel discussion on US foreign policy with distinguished alumni in the school’s auditorium.

On the 22nd, there was a special acknowledgement of former football players, cheerleaders, band members and twirlers during the traditional Thanksgiving game against Needham High, which started at 10 a.m. Thursday at Hunnewell Field; a dance featuring “music through the decades’’ in the school’s cafeteria on Friday evening; and an open house and yard sale at the school Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. that included old uniforms, locker fronts, pompoms, and banners for sale.

For photos and details on the celebration, visit

Palo Alto Obon Festival A Smashing Success

Obon Festival Program, 2006

Obon Festival Program, 2006

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA: Well, another super weekend has passed us by, complete with spontaneous events. After finding out about the Japanese Obon Festival in Palo Alto, I rounded up my friends Yan-Ting and Natalie, and we met at the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple.

Festivals are those rare times when you’re allowed to eat a little junk food, so that’s where we started. After a brief repast of soba noodles, kappa maki, and teriyaki beef, we headed to the Koto Performance (Japanese Harps). It was eerily beautiful, and definitely set the mood. Outside, there was a wonderful bonsai table, where people were fashioning bonsais while you watched. We also found some gorgeous bamboo, but it wasn’t for sale, unfortunately!

Girls in traditional kimonos at the Obon Festival, Palo Alto, CA

Girls in traditional kimonos

There were spectacular flower arrangements inside the temple, as well as artwork. Probably the most fun was people watching. Apparently everyone broke out their Japanese T-shirts for the event, because we saw plenty!

At 5:30 The San Jose Taiko Group performed (Japanese Drums) on the central stage, outside. What a bunch of energy! If you ever get the chance, see this group. They are superb. Later, everyone snuck off and donned their kimonos, then returned to do a group dance finale. I have never seen such a great concentration of color in one small area. The kids were the best part of the festival. They were having a blast in their traditional garb, and not only did they look adorable, they were quite adept at following all the dance moves.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.