When I wrote this, I didn’t know if Lick still existed. Now knowing that it does, I am elated. I feel somewhat embarrassed, though, even after more than 30 years. The teachers I had, many are probably retired, some dead. I was unsure of writing their full names. I have decided, for now at least, only to use their initials. I think there will be more to come. (I hope this encourages you, i31773 to tell us more about Lick today.)
Located on Ocean Avenue, if memory serves, opposite the City College of San Francisco, is Lick-Wilmerding High School, sometimes known as Lick-Wilmerding-Lux, the merged California School of Mechanical Arts and Wilmerding School of Industrial Arts. The Lick School: we just called it Lick.
Quite a name! It was formed when the above schools amalgamated because of, presumably, financial reasons. It was an endowed private school--but with no fees.
Entrance was by competitive examination, and interview.
It was a boys’ school. There had been a girls’ component, it came with the Lux endowment, but it had not continued, again for financial reasons. Serious consideration was being given to reinstating it--and regaining access to the Lux money--when I was there. I don’t know what, if anything, ever came of this thinking.
James Lick was one of the ‘local’ millionaires. (San Francisco had, probably still has, alot of ‘local’ millionaires.) There is--or at least was--a James Lick freeway, and a Lick Observatory. Lick money was important for the school’s existence.
Lick had a particular philosophical approach to education. It believed that the future required not only strong and capable minds, but strong and capable hands as well. What we might derisively call ‘shop’ subjects--Mechanical Drawing, Metal Shop, Welding, Machine Shop, Electric Shop, and of course, Physical Education--were included along with the usual ‘academic’ ones.
What is the value of a ‘great’ mind if it can’t relate to the world? If it can’t replace a light bulb? Starting as a junior (a transfer student from Canada), I only had to take a term of Metal Shop. I remember melting pennies in “Wick” P’s class.
I came to consciousness in San Francisco--is there a song title there?--in large, but not total measure thanks to Lick and its teachers. They were M. L. F., French, J. C., English, C. F. K., American History, W. W. R., Physics, S. C., Mathematics, and R. “Wick” P., Metal Shop.
The 15 year reunion for my class, class of ‘69, would have been 1984. I didn’t know the meaning of that when I started Lick--or the meaning of the buttons reading
“1984 is Coming!” some wore. (I know all about George Orwell now.) But I found both an intellectual home, in the surprising company of W. R. R., and the less virtual,
and more immediate company of the Flexible Scheduling Committee.
I have not forgotten my year at Lick, in San Francisco, and how the universe suddenly opened up all around me. For a somewhat alienated teenager, finding an environment
that encouraged all the things I have become, even if few of them make for financial success--it was the experience of a lifetime.
When I wrote this, it was my most profound hope that Lick continues, over 30 years later, to open the minds of boys and girls to the vertigo and virtue of the world. I am
elated to discover that it DOES!
If there are any everythingians who are current or past students of Lick, or are or were faculty at Lick, I would be very happy to receive email from you.