Retro Knollwood Cool Kids’ Hangout Daze

The cool kids of Fair Haven’s Knollwood School in 1974
Photo/courtesy of Debra Giffin Schluter

A picture is worth a thousand awkwardly cool moments in memory of a middle school kid.

To a Fair Haven eighth grader of the 1970s, there was nothing cooler than being asked to hang out, before the bell rang, on the side of Knollwood School by the bushes with the clique of the coolest kids.

They likely didn’t even realize that inclusion their circle, or line, or clustered gathering was a coveted right of passage. If you got the nod from your nerd spot or the casual conversation start with one of them, you were golden in the social school rule book. Never mind getting a “Hey, why don’t you come stand with us tomorrow morning?” That was a reason to run home full of glee and try to get the gumption to break the new popularity news to your best buddies who didn’t get the invite.

Usually, the boys and girls had separate spots in which they “hung out” before the start of the school day. In this capture of the 70s moment, they clustered together for a pose. But, make no mistake, they were the cool ones. At least that’s what everyone else thought.

The spot was not only known for the gathering of the cream of the social crop at Knollwood, it was also where some flirting happened. The boys who, cool or not, took all night to get up the nerve to ask a girl to slow dance at those middle school dances, would use the hangout spot as a sort of fix-up nook. You knew if he “like liked” you too when he asked you to meet him or said “I’ll see you” by the bushes the next day.

Then, of course, there was hardly any talking, just knowing glances that maybe the next slow dance would be yours or you’d end up, dare I say, at Lovett’s for a bit of an experimental kid make-out session. Yes, Lovett’s. That was where The Gentry development now stands and extended into what is now Fair Haven Fields.

And, of course, there were some friends who just loved to prank their most vulnerable buds. I was gifted with those little loons — and duped into manning the bushes waiting for a guy who had no clue.

Despite the fact that there was an awful lot of noise and giggling going on in the background, when I got a “mysterious” pre-caller ID or cell phone call that it was “Chip” and he wanted me to meet him early tomorrow by the bushes. I bit, like the naive, desperate zealot for coolness I, and likely quite a few others, was.

I showed. I waited. And the ol’ Chip Godot? Well, blame it on the uncool girls who turned out to be friends for life plus the pranks well into adulthood. Once a Knollwood kid …

There are many more of those stories from that side of the school and the kids from the cool and goofy side of the tracks. They all end up having the same kind of memories of teaching moments back at Knollwood.

Your cool kid teaching moment? Where did you and your friends meet before school? This crew ended up in the RFH Class of ’79. Recognize anyone?

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management