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GHS School Days: 1962-63, Part 10 The Port Washington student exchange trip



In March, 1963, our class sponsors and Mr. Walton selected 33 students who wanted to participate in a student exchange program with Port Washington, Wisconsin.

It was a program that had caught on across the country where senior students could travel to, stay in the homes of students, and attend classes in the host city.

It was an honor to be selected. Port Washington was similar in size to Greenville, was located on Lake Michigan, had been the site of a Native American Village when Europeans arrived and was a bustling commercial port and fishing hub.

On a Friday, 29 GHS students boarded The Crescent, one of L & N’s two daily trains, bound for Chicago where they would change to a Milwaukee bound train to be picked up by a bus to transport them on to Port Washington.

Four of us, Eddie Newton, Ronny Owen, Dave Whetstone and I were playing on the basketball team that was involved in state playoffs.

We lost the Friday game and were on the train Saturday afternoon on our way to Port Washington.

Coach Allen chuckled a little bit and asked if we had thrown the game to get on with the trip. It’s not like Eddie, Dave and I could have had anything to do with the outcome. Coach laughed.

We boarded late in Greenville and had an overnight trip. Not one of us had been on a train for such a long trip and we were excited.

At the outset, the discussion centered around the basketball game but eventually we settled into “riding the train” and viewing the scenery.

Somewhere along the way, a tall and lanky young man, hearing our basketball talk, sat down with us.

He was from another south Alabama town and he was going to visit one of the Chicago baseball teams.

He shared a scrapbook of his impressive accomplishments. Later, we made a few attempts to find his name in the box scores of one of the Chicago teams but we were unsuccessful.

Eddie must have been really excited because during the night he called out three times that we had just crossed the Ohio River.

After the third time, Ronnie said to him in his most authoritative voice, “Newton, according to you, we have crossed the Ohio River three times. Go to sleep” and he did.

In the morning, as our train moved slowly through south Chicago, we were amazed to see the shabby mid-rise apartment houses with tenants hanging out clothes or simply smoking on the outside steps.

It was so inconsistent with our lives in Greenville but that was one reason for the trip.

The Chicago train station was cavernous, huge with multiple tracks for trains to drive in to the station.

We had a layover; we took care of our luggage and hit the streets.  It was mid-March in Chicago and the wind was unmerciful.

As we crossed over the Chicago River on one of the stone bridges, I was sure we would be blown into the river.

It was a short walk on purpose but we saw some of downtown Chicago. Back in the Chicago train station cavern, we caught our train and headed for Milwaukee.

As we again moved slowly through western Chicago, we passed the Great Lakes Naval Station covered in snow.

Bennett McBride, a 1960 GHS graduate, joined the Navy and was assigned to Great Lakes.  I cannot imagine basic Naval training in that snow.

Coming Up:  Port Washington, Wisconsin

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