More than 100 members of Hersey’s class of 1973 descended on the school last month and their thoughts turned to a simpler time. When they began as freshmen the school had been open only one year and much of the neighborhoods surrounding it was still farmland.

Dave and Steve Houghton, circa 1966, with their dog, Tessie

For Steve Houghton, a retired teacher and coach in Central Illinois, the chance to revisit his old stomping grounds — including his family’s home — was irresistible. So irresistible, in fact, that he stopped by his former house and rang the bell.

“It was so fun,” says Deb Whisler, who with her husband, Bob, have lived in the home for 21 years on north Douglas Avenue in Arlington Heights. “He had so many great stories.”

Houghton reminisced that his parents had moved into their brand new home in the Arlington North subdivision in 1966. They were on the last street of the development, with the east side of Douglas still an untouched soybean field.

“I used to hit golf balls into that field,” says Houghton, who now lives in Danville. “It was perfect. I could always find my ball.”

He fondly remembers playing outside for hours, riding his bike around the neighborhood and even the historic blizzard of 1967 that shut down school for a week.

Within three years of moving in, Houghton would start at Hersey, which was bursting at the seams with students. During his four years, there were approximately 3,800 students in a building built for a maximum of 2,800. The year after they graduated, Buffalo Grove High School opened, drawing 1,000 students from the former Hersey boundaries.

Steve Houghton still sporting Hersey’s orange and brown colors.

“In looking back at our yearbooks, it was a very young teaching staff,” Houghton says. “Since I ended up being a teacher and a coach, it was very relatable to me.”

Houghton remembers a heightened sense of school spirit, with all of the athletic contests — from wrestling and gymnastics meets to football and basketball games — drawing standing room only crowds.

“Everything at Hersey was a big deal,” he says. “We took a lot of pride in being a Hersey Huskie.”

As an athlete, Houghton qualified for Hersey’s P.E. Leaders’ Program, which grouped him with other student athletes and specifically those interested in teaching. His senior year he was paired with teacher Rick Mann, who would be inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame.

Between his teachers and coaches at Hersey, and his grandfather, Paul Houghton — a hall of fame basketball coach in Southern Illinois — Houghton earned an education degree at Eastern Illinois University and began a 40-year career as a teacher and coach. Over the years he would coach girls’ and women’s volleyball, from middle school and high school teams, to Division 1 at Chicago State University.

Houghton points out some of the original floor joists.

Yet, he still points to his experience at Hersey and those carefree days growing up in Arlington Heights as formative.

“Hersey was a phenomenal place to be, and it still is,” Houghton says after touring the renovated school with his classmates. “I was blown away by the tremendous educational opportunities offered for those kids.”

After driving around his hometown, Houghton saw that many of his old landmarks had vanished, but not his home. It looked much the same, even with a collie in the yard, just as he had when he lived there.

Yes, you can go home again, or as Houghton says simply, “Those were good times.”




Please follow and like us: