Our family patriarch is Uncle Hal

The middle brother in my Dad’s family, Harold Parke Bergeson, will turn 90 on February 27, 2018. I hadn’t seen Hal for over a year until a couple days ago when my sisters and brother-in-law and I met him for lunch.

I had several questions I wanted him to answer and I started in as soon as we sat down.  The first question was this “What was great-aunt Lily Bergeson’s maiden name?” Hal said, “My answer is the same as the last time you asked me that question: I don’t know!” Ooops. Guess I should take better notes.

The next question involved a photograph of twin teenage girls holding a pair of infant twins. Twins are a big deal on my wife’s side of the family so I’ve been curious about this for months. My grandfather’s photo albums have many pictures of his family visiting another family on their South Dakota farm in the 1940s. I’ve always figured that they’re relatives, but I can’t find any identifying information about them. Hal and his two brothers are in several of the pictures so I was sure that I’d learn who they were now. He stared at the pictures for a long time and then said “I really have no idea who they are.”

Third time’s a charm, right? I recently figured out that Harold and his younger brother Norman went to a different Chicago high school than my father, Robert. My dad went to Carl Schurz High School, but Hal and Norm went to Foreman High School.  So I asked Hal why this split happened in the family. I know that they didn’t move their residence so what gives?

Hal said that, at the time, the boys that he hung out with weren’t exactly the kind of boys “that you’d find in your confirmation class.” He was worried that when he graduated 8th grade and had to go to high school, he’d continue to socialize with this group of fellows and get into trouble. He was concerned about his future. Also, Carl Schurz High School was a mammoth institution with over 4,000 students and he thought that was way too big for his comfort level. Foreman High School didn’t have even half that many students.

He asked his parents to make a special request of the school district for him to go to a different school than the other kids in his neighborhood and the request was granted. Hal was a very athletic boy and he pursued several sports while in school doing well in all of them, particularly football. When Norm saw how much fun Hal was having in high school, he asked his parents to make the same case for him and they did. And that’s why Hal and Norm went to a different high school than their older brother Bob.

FYI: both schools are still operational today in Chicago, although Foreman High School is now named “Foreman College and Career Academy.” It’s still a public high school.

L to R: Paul Behrens, Dan, Martha, Hal, Beth.

Foreman High School Chicago
Foreman High School Chicago
Carl Schurz High School Chicago
Carl Schurz High School Chicago

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