R. Lee Gamble's "The Magic School Bus" piece (February 2015) became the topic of discussion at our dinner table. Our daughter read the essay and recognized her father's story in Gamble's words.
We also chose to raise our children in the culturally, racially and economically diverse community of Shaker Heights and Cleveland's East Side suburbs — possibly because of the Cleveland schools' busing experience in the late '70s. But there is another "busing" story from that time.
Like Gamble, I was not exposed to a racially integrated school until late in elementary school when the Chicago Public Schools attempted to achieve integration with voluntary busing.
In 1974, I lived in a very ethnically diverse Chicago neighborhood where my school friends spoke Greek, Korean and Japanese at home. But there was not a population of black households. My parents were very excited about the opportunity to send their daughter to a brand-new Chicago public school that offered music, art and academic programs not available in neighborhood elementary schools. Instead of walking to school in the snow and the rain, I would be picked up in front of my house by a school bus.
At the Walt Disney Magnet School, the student population reflected that of Chicago at the time: more than 60 percent black and Hispanic. As a fifth-grade white girl, I was very fortunate to be chosen. My friends had everything in common but the color of our skin and the neighborhoods that we returned to after school. We were all new to the school.
Only in college, when I compared my experience with others whose schools were forcibly desegregated, did I realize I was "bused" too! However, in my experience, the attitude of parents, students and teachers was so completely different from the ugliness experienced by both Ms. Gamble and my husband, who grew up on Cleveland's far West Side and also graduated from Newton D. Baker and John Marshall High School.
As I finished Gamble's essay, tears began to well in my eyes. I realized, like her, by raising my children in Shaker Heights, their concept of school, neighborhood and friendship from their first impression is a richly diverse community. We have provided for our children more opportunity than we had growing up; this is a parent's ultimate goal.
Raise a Glass
The February Cocktails issue is a true beauty, from the cover shot of Society Lounge's Cuyahoga Cocktail to the layout of the "Get in the Spirits" feature.