In Memory

Caroline Merbitz (Kolberg)

Caroline Merbitz (Kolberg)

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03/06/15 07:24 AM #3    

Annette VanVeen (Gippe)

Our mothers were both French war brides and their obstetrician introduced them.  So, Caroline and I grew up like cousins. When we were little, we spent lots of time together on the weekends with our parents. Our mothers chatting away in french and we played for hours. When school started, I lived in Jeffrey Manor and she in South Shore, so our visits were mostly on holidays. We saw a lot of eachother in High School but did not really hang out.  She was very quiet and me....well you all know me. She was very happily married and, I believe had a child. She had been diabetic since childhood and was quite fragile.  My parents moved to Arizona her parents to South Holland so the holiday get togethers ended. I learned of her death when I read her husband's obituary and it mentioned that she had pre-deceased him.  I know that she loved her 25 years at Fields and i would always make it a point to go and give her a hug whenever I was in the store. I remember those very young days well.

03/06/15 11:42 AM #4    

Nancy Apel (Jones)

Paul,thank you for your said exactly what I meant about some people.i always felt sad for the classmates that were on the edge.i knew what it was like being on the outside looking in.when I moved to Chicago in the middle of 8th grade it was very difficult to leave all of my childhood friends behind .i missed them and not having any friends or being invited to anyone's house after school or to bar mitzvah parties.i do want to thank marlene Novick(a lifelong friend),norm Gordon,and barbara garmisa who went out of their way to be kind and friendly to meant a lot to me.i looked forward to starting fresh in high school and I loved south shore.i had a great time and made many new friends.i am still friends with a few people from childhood in cincinnati,Ohio

I am looking forward to seeing you and everyone else at the reunion.i just read that some people want to have activities for the week-end.i think that would be great to spend some extra time together since it is 50 years.

03/29/15 03:25 PM #5    

Peggy Brunner (Thurman)

I rode the bus to school with Caroline, she was very shy. I could sense that she did not feel comfortable so I tried to make her laugh, it was difficult. I hope those that took the time to interact with her made a difference in her life. "Kids" can and were cruel because they just didn't know any better. I hope to see our classmates not just fifty years older but fifty years mature? We are all just here for a visit and we do not know when that visit is going to be over....Peggy Brunner Thurman

03/30/15 11:23 PM #6    

Mark Podolner

Nancy, Paul, Annette and Peggy - 

I thought all of your comments about Caroline were very thoughtful and moving. I don't remember Caroline but I think I understand some of the feelings of people who are very shy and feel ostracized by the community they are in. South Shore was unbdoubtedly a stimulating and highly enjoyable social and academic environment for most of us but I think it's worth reflecting on the fact that our high school was very socially stratified and it was not easy for some who didn't readily fit into one of the established groupings. Should we have reached out more to Caroline and others like her? Undoubtedly but many of us were awkward developing teenagers, ourselves, in many ways (that weren't always apparent) and it was difficult sometimes to help others who were profoundly withdrawn. Are we any better, any more senstive now than we were then? That would be a good question to ask ourselves. Though I sometimes considered myself the champion of the underdog I have to admit, when I'm honest with myself, that I haven't done enough to help those who were and are struggling far more than me for social acceptance.  

03/31/15 11:59 AM #7    

Gary Matthews

To everyone;

This ongoing remembrance about Caroline has been a honest and heartfelt discussion about how difficult teenage years can be and how cruelly some kids are treated.  Even if the teasing was not meant to be delivered with malice, the recipient's felt belittled and marginalized.  Not to dig up bad memories but we had a few classmates who were brutally treated; basically tormented.  Good thing that, back in the day, there was no such thing as facebook.  

I attended school with Caroline from 4th grade through high school but never knew her well.  We were both on the quiet side and never really connected.  As I recall, "hi, how are you?" was about the extent of our communication.

Marc, you are dead-on with your reflection of the social stratification of South Shore High School and the difficulty assimilating into the "established groups".  Some of us had a small circle of friends which helped make the high school experience tolerable; unfortunately, others toiled relatively alone.  I also have to believe that the vast majority of people eventually mature, becoming more sensitive to other's feelings.  I truly hope that Caroline, and other classmates who shared similar experiences, found happiness throughout heir subsequent years.

Peace to all.




03/31/15 09:10 PM #8    

Mark Podolner

Gary - 
You, too, have contributed much wisdom and feeling to this discussion in rembrance of Caroline and understanding of the discomfort that shy, alienated and troubled kids may be experiencing. And I, too, remember kids who were "tortured" because they were perceived as abnormal somehow in the group mindset that often exists in grammar school and high school. But I also think you allude to something significant which is that  high school isn't always a "bowl of cherries" for everyone and yet they can go on to find themselves and some kind of satisfying social grouping at another stage of their life. I hope that's what happened with Caroline and the other kids I'm thinking about.  Mark 

04/01/15 08:34 AM #9    

Susan Moise (Herman)

Just reading all of these comments on Caroline. I really didn't know Caroline, but knew others that were also in  that quiet, silent and probably lonely place in high school.  You all have succinently stated how difficult a time gammer and high school could be for so many kids.  As youngsters most of us wanted to "fit in" accepted, at least by a few people.  I was fortunate and had a reasonable circle of friends that I could laugh with, walk to/from school with, go to movies and to Mitchell's for ice cream with. Not all were as fortunate.

In today's news are reading about Indiana's new law that many think will encourage discrimination against gays/lesbians. And we read so much about cyber bullying. So much has not changed.

I think it's incumbent upon us all to teach our grandchildren tolerance and kindness.  A smile and hello or some positive comment can go such a long way in a person's life when that negative comment can hurt forever.

Thanks to you all for such an enlightened conversation. And may Caroline and all our other deceased classmates rest in peace knowing they did make an impact.

04/02/15 03:44 PM #10    

Nancy Apel (Jones)

hi Annette,mark,gary,peggy,Paul,and Susan,







I wanted to start this conversation many years ago.we never had a place to write our rememberance  about lost classmates.i also felt that most people in our class would not know or remember Caroline.i felt so bad when Caroline told me about how our classmates treated her and I didn't know how to respond to her remark but smile at her.i know I never hurt her or ignored her and I hope she felt safe in telling this to me because I would understand.this was my chance to represent Caroline and others like her so that they would be remembered and be shown respect and care by others in our class.after attending several of our reunions there are still people who still act the same would be nice if these guilty people would read this blog and not be snobs and condenscending to classmates.they have never had a reason to be snobs or condescending.i have always been amused by their behavior.they don't care about anyone but themselves.they are in their own small a whole we have wonderful people in our class who i have enjoyed knowing all of these years.i had a wonderful time in high school and made great friends.I am happy that all of you responded so well to my initial blog.i hope more of our classmates read it and there are further discussions and understanding.maybe some of the people who were on the outside looking in will  feel comfortable about themselves to come to this special reunion.I am looking forward to seeing all of you this summer.i am sending you all a message.nancy apel jones


04/02/15 08:39 PM #11    

Mark Podolner

Susan - 

I appreciate your expansion of the issues raised by the difficulties Caroline had in being accepted at school. We're obviously doing this too late to help Caroline but I think we have to constantly think about our own tendencies to ignore those who don't easily fit in to whatever group we're part of. I also appreciate your connection of such social rejection to other situations in which people who don't fit into the mainstream are penalized in some ways. And I do agree that we should teach tolerance and there are, in fact tolerance curriculums that are used in the schools. However, we have to consider the realities of human nature and regrettably cruelty, dominance and exclusion of others is part of who we are. So in some situations we have to help our children learn to handle the social and emotional injuries they are likely to experience in life rather than expecting such injuries not to occur. 

04/02/15 08:47 PM #12    

Mark Podolner

Nancy - 

What a sensitive and wonderful thing you have done here with your post and you can see how deeply it affected a number of us. You expand the issue of the way Caroline felt she was treated to consider the very strong possibility that a number of other people feel similarly about their high school experience and not wantt to come to any reunion that might just stir up exactly the same feelings one had in high school. I'm guessing that the very idea of a high school reunion is as painful to some as it is exciting to others. I'm really not sure that we can do much about that at this stage but we can certainly encourage anyone we know who may feel reluctant to attend for very understandable reasons. Thanks again for your thoughtfulness. 

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