Jerry Gleixner attended classes - from first grade in 1940 until graduation in 1953 - in the same school at 10025 Penn Avenue South, which turns out was the only Bloomington school from 1918 to 1950.
In his youth, “everybody knew everybody,” in Bloomington and in school, Gleixner recalled. The school’s enrollment was only 700 in 1945. There were only 88 students in Gleixner’s graduating class.
During World War II, which ended in 1945, students had family or friends in uniform, making current events and geography real. Gleixner, an only child, eagerly awaited letters from Europe, where his father served in the Army and survived famous battles such as the Battle of the Bulge.
“We had good teachers,” Gleixner recalled. Teachers in that era mostly lectured from the front of the room and relied heavily on the blackboard. If art classes had been offered, Gleixner would have signed up. In high school he liked to draw cartoons cartoon, taught himself calligraphy and created illustrations for the school newspaper and yearbook.
High school for Gleixner was mostly “sports, sports, sports.” He was on the track team and played basketball and football on teams that competed well with other Division B school teams.
Before school, Gleixner ran a paper route that provided money for a string of cars, including an Auburn that more than 20 students could pile into. After school, he was busy with sports, a school singing group, and friends who hung out at the café or drive-in theater. He met his wife Carolynn when she was a car hop at the drive-in.
The worst school “discipline problem” was students dropping water balloon “bombs” from upper story school windows. “Nobody smoked because we were athletes, and there was little alcohol use,” he recalled. Punishment involved writing sentences, such as “I will not throw spitballs,” numerous times or sitting next to the teacher. Bloomington’s one police officer, the constable, was not involved. “The superintendent, Hubert Olson, was stern, but everybody liked him,” Gleixner said.
Art and physical activity continued to play big roles in Gleixner’s life. He served two years in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Colorado, which focused on ski patrol and mountain climbing. Then he had careers as a bowling alley manager, pro bowler and illustrator for the county.
At 83, Gleixner creates greeting cards, works out and plays volleyball regularly at the Kennedy High School Activity Center.