In 1960 when I graduated from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Balcones Heights, I was thrilled to learn I had been accepted to attend Central Catholic High School downtown San Antonio. That was the good news or so I thought.
Unfortunately I received the bad news that rocked my world just two weeks before school. I was devastated to lean that my family would be moving to some foreign country called Massachusetts. Springfield, Massachusetts to be exact!
Needless to say I had never heard of Springfield, Massachusetts much less wanted to move there and disrupt my teen years and totally ruin my life since all my male classmates for four years from St. Gregory’s, were accepted.
Of course my female classmates would assuredly attend Providence High School as well. Just one big happy family. Granted I may have sounded a bit over dramatic at the time, but the pain and anguish has never left me.
Needless to say I was not a happy teenager. My world, as I saw it, was ruined and in disarray. The world was coming to an end. For my 14 year old self, it was Armageddon and the Apocalypse combined.
Ironically, I did not return to San Antonio until 1972 after a tour of sunny Viet Nam and Germany. On arrival I was hired as an English teacher at Krueger Middle School in the Northeast ISD. With 26 years of teaching under my belt over the years, I honed my skills from Northeast, Edgewood, SAISD and Harlandale that held me in good stead. Along the journey I met numerous Central Catholic graduates who I should have known back in the sixties.
Since I have been back, I have re-united with some of those graduates. First one who comes to mind is former San Antonio Mayor and former HUD Secretary, Henry Cisneros. I have written about him for La Prensa as a local icon. In 1980 when he ran as the first Hispanic Mayor of San Antonio, my government class at La Memorial and I stuffed envelopes and block walked for him in his bid for Mayor.
Another well-known Central Catholic alumni is former Congressman Charlie Gonzalez who was pulled out his senior year by his father the late Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez to attend another high school. I have written about him as well. In fact we both ran for his father’s seat when he retired. We know how that turned out although he supported me in my successful bid for Pct.2 JP.
Then there is the nationally famous Sonny Melendrez who is now a motivational speaker and also frequent stand-up comedian. I have been told by many from Central Catholic he was a funny guy even as a high school student. I have covered numerous events where he served as the master of ceremonies and motivational guest speaker with a little comedy mixed in. Over the years Sonny has made us laugh and also bring us to tears in a good way.
Then there is Oscar Zaldivar, my long-time buddy who became the first Hispanic President of the San Antonio Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1980-81 at the same time Henry Cisneros became the first Hispanic Mayor of San Antonio. I was privileged to follow Oscar as President. For a year Oscar was also my roommate.
With this year being Central Catholic High School’s 54th class reunion, the students who should have been my classmates raised over 25-thousand dollars for the school which was matched by one member of the class.
Had my father not uprooted us and unceremoniously whisked us away to that foreign land of Massachusetts, I would have been a part of the recent reunion of many of my almost classmates.