Tag Archives: #Syacamore

40 to 40, pt. 5: What’s an Aviator?


In the summer of 1987, my parents got transferred to some city called Cincinnati in the middle of the US to which I knew almost nothing about because some guy named, Carl Lindner, bought their company.  All I knew about Cincinnati was WKRP and that Eric Davis was a stud of a center-fielder.  A few days before my frehsman year in high school we moved into a home that was a far cry from the trailor in Levitown.  Large brick house with a pool and satelite dish, our own rooms and bathrooms.  Definitely felt like the hard work of my parents had paid off and they had ‘made’ it in terms of American provisions.  I spent a lot of time in that pool and mastered the art of manipulating that old-school satelite dish. 

I would go to a place called Sycamore High School that had the reputation for being a ‘high-end’ school district with excellent academics.  Apparently they were the Syacamore Aviators and my first question was, “What’s an Aviator”?  Such a strange nickname having not grown up around it.  I was not only the new kid having no connection with these people from middle or elementary school, but I was clearly an east coast punk compared to the Ralph Lauren polo wearing Sycamore crowd.  As well coming from a tiny school to a huge school, It was quite an adjustment, I didn’t understand them and don’t think they understood me.  I was fairly content keeping to myself and I made my observations from a distance. I do remember thinking one upside to being in such a large school was that the multitude of attractive young ladies would make the school days much more bearable and Sycamore was not short in that category.  I had the ‘fade’ haircut with steps shaved into the side of my head, soon I would have to change my ways and figure out how to fit into this preppie crowd.  In the vernacular of ‘The Outsiders’, I wanted to be perceived as a ‘greaser’, but now I was in school full of ‘Socs’.  Time to change.

I made most of my friends through sports teams but for the most part, I stayed on the peripheral of Sycamore High School.  Rarely went to parties or games and kept to myself.  I tended to engage my teachers in dialogue more than my classmates, a trait my eldest daugher has taken on fully.  I think I felt that I was going somewhere, I knew what I wanted and I didn’t need anybody to help get me there.   The popularity thing didn’t interest me, I’d prefer to play my games on the field.  But we certainly had a lot of fun.  Each day I believe the lunch order was the pizza and fries boat, with a side or ranch to dip the fries in.  Nutrition at it’s best.  The fries were of a different planetary substance altogether, the really greasy ones would bounce off the cafeteria floor to at least hip level if you snapped it just right.  Mr. Rudisell was an unbelievably difficutl history teacher and I had no study skills but he was so passionate and talented in his approach.  He made me love history and want to do well in his class, though I couldn’t.  I had to cheat on the final exam just to pass his class and that would have worked fine if I didn’t cheat off of the kid who set the curve. Mr. Rudisell was so ecstatic with my exam grade and congratulated me in the hallway, I felt like such a moron.  Though I didn’t confess, from then on out I decided to take my lumps and just take the grade I earned.

My main group of friends eventually would come from the church youth group that I will address in the next blog.  Sycamore was kind of a neutral experience for me, I have not been back since the last day I left there with the exception of a soccer match last year.  I did attend my 20 year reunion this past year and it was awesome seeing people I had totally forgotten about.  Facebook as well has started new friendships that weren’t that fruitful as teenagers, we share more in common now as adults and parents. 

So what’s an aviator?  I am, for life, class of 91!