McKinley Goldbug Spirit
Everyone that has ever attended McKinley knows from personal experience the incredible McKinley Goldbug Spirit. It is this wonderful spirit that keeps us all connected. It is that elusive mystique that has maintained friendships for decades after graduation. It is a magical gift that transcends graduating class. It is that quality that makes Goldbugs special.
While we have all experienced this phenomenon, few have tried to explain it. This page endeavors to offer a few personal explanations. If you would like to submit your personal explanation of the McKinley Spirit, please click on the McKinley seal to the right to send us your personal explanation.
Bob Merriman '50

Making the transition from grade school to McKinley High School, helped me grow from being a very shy and scrawny kid, to one that wanted to grow, see the world and sample the world of adventure. My mentor for this experiencing of life, its risks and rewards, was the Camera Club advisor, Mr. Art Pfaff. Mr. Pfaff regaled me with his adventures and that of his friends and students. It was living life to its fullest.

Racing sports cars, hang gliding, rock and mountain climbing, ballooning and, at the age of 71, sky diving. These are all wonderful experiences my parents never dreamed of, but I did them over a lifetime. Sampling of cultures from around the world, these are also the things he encouraged me to do and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting world-renown places and meeting its people. Thank you Mr. Pfaff, you made my life a very full and rich life. My thanks to McKinley, and all my wonderful teachers, who also helped me to grow.

Jo Ann Emery Claywell '59

If someone had told me 48 years after graduation that my McKinley spirit would still be going strong, I would have expressed strong doubts. I had great teachers, I made best friends. In my yearbook I vowed to "never forget all the fun and good times we had," yet did I really think I would still be involved with Goldbugs and McKinley at this stage of my life? No, but here I am, working on an alumni committee to provide financial assistance for current McKinley students, grades 6-8. Yes, they still rub the nose of the McKinley statue for good luck, they still produce winners and champions, and the spirit of the school still remains. That's why there's something special about being able to answer "McKinley" when the question is asked, "Where did you go to high school?"

Janet Westerfield Sandlin '64

I guess the strongest memory that brings out the McKinley Spirit for me, is knowing in those days, no matter what it took, we were going to be at the football game. We made that long walk up Gravois from Jefferson to Roosevelt High School. None of my friends had a car in those days; in fact, I doubt any of us even learned how to drive until after we graduated. So, come Saturday, no matter how cold or wintry the fall day was, if we had a football game at Roosevelt field, we would join the long walk. You would see groups of two, four, six and sometimes even more join in along the way as we made out way to that field. And what a joy it was to be a freshman in 1960 with the greatest football team I ever saw. What did it matter if the game was further away, and so what if we had to take two buses to get there? There was this feeling in us that we had to be there for the team. That was McKinley playing and our McKinley spirit inspired us to get to the game.

Jo Ann Skaggs Johnson '65

Like so many other things in life, to truly appreciate your heritage, you must take the time to be reminded and then reflect. The Centennial open house through the school was one of the best Goldbug Spirit impacts to date. All the smells (those huge rolls at lunch time) and warm and fuzzy memories returned and still linger. I now reside in the Southeast Missouri area, and my children heard all about the "Goldbug Spirit" growing up and my daughter took some of the old cheers and put them together to fit her school spirit. There are many McKinley Alumni around this area and since it is such a small town, it is not out of the question for someone to say to you, "McKinley with Colors Black and Gold, McKinley, our hearts will never grow old, we'll not forget…” with a secret grin, and a continual hum only someone with the Goldbug Spirit can know. The older I become the more the old Goldbug Spirit seems to grow. May God bless our new generation with a little more Goldbug Spirit to carry on in all areas of life.

Jeri Rose McInturff '60

My parents did not have a high school education. I was the first! When I first started McKinley, I was 5'- 4" and 92 lbs. (Boy, have I changed.) I was part of a small class from Clinton-Peabody, and we were a fairly close group. The one thing I'll never forget is how scared I was to attend such a "large" school, with a large population of strangers who seemed much more mature and "cool" than I. However, that fear was quickly eliminated. I was able to participate in many extra curricular activities which helped to build my self-confidence, enabled me to take risks, and shape my character. Because of its devoted teachers, McKinley gave me the education, skills, and the love of learning to become the educator I am today. McKinley has afforded me many fond memories to share with my family. And, most importantly, because of McKinley, I made some wonderful life-long friends with whom I still keep in touch. For me, the Goldbug Spirit was magical and inspirational. How exciting it is to know that the spirit still exists.

Lyle Murphy '47

I suppose it was because our school lacked almost everything that was taken for granted at Roosevelt, Beaumont, Southwest and Cleveland that we developed a kinship of iron. You could only be proud of football teams that practiced on a postage-stamp sized lot a block from the school, or basketball players that dodged giant pillars on a half-court, or wannabe Cards and Brownies who walked to Lemp Park to throw the ball around. You loved kids from Soulard Market with unpronounceable foreign names. Your favorite colors were Black and Gold and Julius Blanke was the thing of which legends were made. How would I prove all of this stuff of yesteryear? It lives in the luncheon attendance to this day!

Spiro Athanas '60

I have three older sisters and two older brothers all of whom went to McKinley. During my elementary school days at Sigel, I walked past McKinley several times a day, and knew that at least one or two of my siblings were in there. I always thought of it as a palace – elegant, solid and imposing. I couldn’t wait to get there. So I guess I had the spirit before I arrived. But what really solidified and personified the spirit of McKinley in me was participation in sports. Our teams were tough, disciplined, talented and, yes, spirited, and we kicked the butts of larger schools such as Beaumont, Cleveland, and our arch rival Roosevelt. We never quit, and that spirit endures.

Betty Plassmeyer '55

The McKinley Spirit has always been so hard to explain to people, including my children, if they hadn't gone to McKinley. You can run into a McKinleyite that you hadn't seen in 20 years, out shopping or walking in the park, or at a wedding reception, and you get that same close feeling you had when you were in school with them. It's like you have seen them just yesterday. We had so many different ethnic backgrounds, and everyone was from lower income families, so we figured everyone lived the same way we did, so we all respected each and everyone's religion and their heritage. And we all know how hard everyone has worked to become successful. We are all proud to be McKinleyite's.

Don George '58

When I think of McKinley Spirit I immediately think of the many friends, classmates, and yes, even teachers, that engendered that spirit. I rarely conjure up visions of the building, classrooms, or hallways, but I still frequently find myself mentally revisiting with old friends. The kind of adult I would eventually become happened at McKinley and with other Goldbugs. None of the university teaching left the impression that for instance Miss Becker did. I enjoyed four years of math with her and my admiration for her grew the whole of that four year period. The real beauty in this connection to the past is the new and rekindling of old friendships. I have made several new friendships; Lou Lewis, Tom Kiske, Spiro Athanas, and Charlie Wallis none of whom I knew all that well while in school. I have no idea why other schools didn’t engender this kind of lasting relationship. All I know is how fortunate I feel to have been part of a gathering of kindred spirits that I did.

Loretta Shults Hermann '63

I think my Goldbug Spirit was influenced by the fact that all my siblings graduated from there. I was the youngest and 12 years behind my closest brother. It gave me a sense of belonging to walk the same halls and have some of the same teachers that my brothers and sisters before me. Being able to walk to school with your friends in the neighborhood also fostered a camraderie amongst your classmates. Many of my friends whom I have remained in contact with over the years even attended the same grade school. That is where my McKinley Spirit comes from.

Debra Mead Chavez '72

The Goldbug Spirit for me is defined by my friends that I connected with at school. Many were friends who attended Sigel grade school with me, and it was comforting to know that most of us were going on to attend McKinley High School. I will never forget the first day of my freshman year, feeling excited yet scared, the sense of relief I felt at the first sight of some of my grade school friends I spotted in the hallway. With them by my side, I knew that high school would be fun! My family and I moved into Roosevelt district going into my junior year, but McKinley and my friends meant so much to me that I worked it out so that I was able to keep attending McKinley all the way to graduation.

Lou Lewis '53

I feel the Goldbug spirit is largely based on a sense of equality amongst all of us from McKinley, due primarily to the general lack of difference in our economic status. We came from generally poor, hard-working families that taught us good values. Most of our parents went through the Depression and instilled in us a true sense of appreciation for everything. There were very few spoiled kids in the school. Since we didn't have much, we learned to appreciate that which we had. That learned appreciation transferred to appreciating the friends we made at McKinley, and it is that deep-felt appreciation that has persisted with those friendships we made at McKinley. As a result, we have made an effort to maintain many of those relationships throughout our lives. Those that attended even slightly more affluent schools did not acquire this appreciation. As the school song goes, "We'll ne'er forget dear friends we've met. Three cheers for the Black and the Gold."

Edward Deckerd '60

McKinley was a neighborhood school where many students were already friends before they got there and it was relatively a small school for being in the city. Everyone was basically from the same neighborhood and had the same type of background; working class families. Most of us were not really poor although some were and they were accepted by the others as just being fellow students. Also none of us really had a lot of material things. Growing up we played ball, hide and seek and other games in the alleys and bare lots so we learned at an early age to settle our disagreements and get along. Also those were the days when you were welcome in any of your friend’s houses and if you got out of line you were punished. It didn't matter whether it was your parents or your friend’s parents and your parents didn't sue someone for correcting you. You just hoped your parents never found out. The same went for the teachers. So all in all, I would say the camaraderie that the Goldbugs have was instilled in them years before they got to McKinley.

Tom Kiske '61

Why do McKinleyites stick together many years after graduation? It's the nose. You know...the distinctly shiny proboscis on the bust of William McKinley in the main entry hall. The one you had to rub every time you passed by. Many schools have traditions, but few are more effective in dispelling pretensions than stroking the nose of a long-dead President. It's kind of hard to think of yourself as better than your fellow students, or take yourself too seriously when you've got a handful of a big ol' schnoz, and a brass schnoz at that. So, McKinleyites spent their time at our alma mater knowing that we're all in the same boat, we're all equals in the eyes of the Lord and the nose of Will McKinley. No prima dona's, few cliques, a spirit of universal acceptance, and a healthy dose of shared fun and humor. Now there's a formula for creating a milieu you want to stay in touch with, McKinley's nose - long may it shine!

Pat Schneider '55

I had always thought it was because we were all pretty much in the same boat. None of us had very much, but we did take care of what we had. We had respect for each other (and that was a lot). I believe most of us came from hard working parents. Our fathers worked hard for their families and our mothers cooked, cleaned and nurtured us with their whole hearts. I really feel sorry for the children of today, they don't know what it is like to come home from school and have mom there waiting or them with something good cooking on the stove.

Jim Gammon '45

I believe it's because we were the smallest, in enrollment, of all St. Louis High Schools. Central and McKinley were the bottom two. As a result we had to work harder to get respect from the other schools. That goes for both athletics and academics. In addition, we had no practice field for football or track. What we had was a corner lot...the northeast corner of Allen & Missouri. Our basketball team had to rent space at Emaus Lutheran School to practice on a real basketball court. For baseball we used Lemp Park, for swimming the YMCA. No, we didn't have the facilities; what we had was pride and we've still got it!

Frank Windegger '53

I think the biggest phenomenon of being a Goldbug was most aptly explained by the drawing of the boundaries for the high school districts back in the '30's. We were the products of a totally ethnic group of hard working parents, and our more affluent friends graced the doors of Cleveland and Roosevelt High Schools. But some of the most pleasant memories of my high school days were kicking their butt in any sport in which we competed with them. In fact it was also great when we could show Beaumont, Soldan, Central, etc. that the melting pot from McKinley could compete for the city championship with small squads and inadequate facilities. What we had were great coaches (Coach Blanke and Coach Buschmann), great teammates, and a hell of a lot of heart.

Earl & Ann Johnson '49
It's true; we were poor in the beginning. Our parents came from all over the world. We were truly the melting pot. Our parents worked hard and instilled in us the pride to succeed. With little resources we competed with the best...and won. Take a look at the Goldbug luncheons; we still have that SPIRIT. We never left that McKinley neighborhood.
Jackie Robinson Maloney '52

Many of us had parents who did not graduate from high school. Only one of my parents did. It was important to them that we not only graduated, but did well. A lot of us - I'm talking about my siblings and I - knew we would not be able to go on to college. Most of us came from larger families and there was barely enough money for clothing and food, let alone money to save for college. I think that meant that we put more into high school and it was more important to us than it is to kids today.

In many cases, going to school was better than having to stay home and watch younger siblings, do washing, ironing, cleaning, etc. And in those cases, high school was even more important! Also, we had pride in what we did; pride in our families, in our school, in each other and in our country.

And, because of neighborhoods being not very expansive and far less transient, entire families of kids went to the same high school. Five of us graduated from McKinley, eight of the Glores, etc. In essence, high school was where we intermingled with our neighbors and extended families. Because of the traits we all had in common (larger families, similar environments, not much money) we really hung out together and talked while sitting on someone's front steps. We formed friendships which we treasured then and which we treasure even more now!

Norma Clarke Sutterer '66

McKinley gave us all one huge family. My father passed away and our house burned to the ground while I was attending McKinley. I can tell you the students and teachers were all very supportive. It was a very stressful year for me and the Goldbugs really came through for me.