Opened in 1864 - the oldest public high school in the state of Indiana.

In 1898 Shortridge established the first daily high school newspaper in the country.

In 1957 TIME magazine listed Shortridge as one of the top 38 high schools in the USA.

The late esteemed writer Kurt Vonnegut, a Shortridge graduate, said of his alma mater:

"It's my dream of America with great public schools. I thought we should be the envy of the world with our public schools. And I went to such a public school. So I knew that such a school was possible. Shortridge High School in Indianapolis produced not only me, but Madelyn Pugh*, the head writer on the I love Lucy show. And, my God, we had a daily paper, we had a debating team, had a fencing team. We had a chorus, a jazz band, a serious orchestra. And all this with a Great Depression going on. And I wanted everybody to have such a school."

From Kurt Vonnegut's biography: It was at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis that Vonnegut gained his first writing experience. During his last two years there he wrote for and was one of the editors of the Shortridge Daily Echo, which was the first high school daily newspaper in the country. At this young age Vonnegut learned to write for a wide audience that would give him immediate feedback, rather than just writing for an audience of one in the form of a teacher.

 

*Madelyn Pugh at Shortridge was also editor of the Shortridge Daily Echo; she went on to Hollywood to become the creator and chief writer of Lucille Ball's world-famous television comedy series I Love Lucy, and has published her memoirs Laughing with Lucy.

Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance look through the Shortridge High School yearbook on the I Love Lucy show.

 

One of Tom Boyd's English teachers at Shortridge was Marguerite Young. Unbeknownst to her students, she had spent the summer of 1946 writing at Yaddo, the prestigious artists' community, where she became friends with fellow Yaddo writers Carson McCullers and Truman Capote. She had had three books published before she achieved international acclaim when her mammoth epic novel, Miss Mackintosh, My Darling was published in 1965. It is on record as surpassing the King James Bible for being the longest book in the English language (1, 198 pages, now published in two volumes) and took her 20 years to write, much of which time she continued teaching at Shortridge. She explained her remarkable achievement, saying: "I would teach from nine to four, sleep an hour, and write from six until midnight, night after night." Some critics hailed Miss Mackintosh, My Darling as a literary milestone - "a masterful, exhilarating work of art, a saga of America, a classic". (One critic noted that the author looked like W.H. Auden and wrote like James Joyce). Kurt Vonnegut, who had also been a pupil in her English classes, labelled her a genius. She died in Indianapolis in 1995 at the age of 87.

(left to right) Marguerite Young 1945, photographed by Jacqueline Bouvier (Kennedy Onassis), Marguerite at Yaddo with Truman Capote 1946, her magnum opus, and Marguerite at its publication in 1965

 

Tom's Shortridge classmate Dan Wakefield described the academic excellence and unique social ambience of the school in the 1950s in his novel Going All The Way (published in 1970 with a forward by Kurt Vonnegut, and made into a film starring Ben Affleck in 1997). He returned to Indianapolis in 2013 and edited a volume of Kurt Vonnegut's letters.

 

Several of Tom's other classmates have also achieved particular distinction in various fields:

Dick Albershardt won university gymnastic championships in 1952, 1955 and 1956 and was the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) individual champion gymnast in 1956. After Indiana University, he devised a comedy trampoline act (using the stage name Dick Albers) which was featured on the famous Ed Sullivan TV show and performed all over the world, including the London Paladium. During the Viet Nam war he toured combat zones with Bob Hope entertaining US troops. He has published his memoirs in a book called Someday You're Not Coming Down.

 

Patricia Towers (née Pat Locke), active in dramatics at Shortridge and the Indianapolis Civic Theatre, became one of New York's most distinguished literary editors. She was married to the late Robert Towers, novelist, critic and professor of Creative Writing at Columbia University, and she began her editing career at TIME Magazine. She became an editor for The New York Times Book Review and a founding editor of Vanity Fair when it was launched in 1983, and was a senior editor for Elle and Mirabella magazines. She was finally Features Director for Oprah Winfrey's magazine O (circulation 2.7 million copies) from 2002 until her retirement in 2009. She is also Vice-Chairman of Yaddo, the famous writer's colony where the aforementioned Marguerite Young spent the summer of 1946. In May, 2012 Yaddo held a special tribute dinner to honor Patricia Towers, calling her "the woman many writers, agents and publishers refer to as the finest editor they have ever worked with."

(centre) Tom with classmate Pat Locke in the musical comedy CHALET while at Shortridge, 1949, and 61 years later, Tom and Pat in England, April 2010

 

 

Jim Peed, another of Tom's Shortridge contemporaries, became one of the most renowned furniture designers in America with his award-winning company, Jim Peed Associates Inc., in Hickory, North Carolina. His designs are widely produced and sold all over the USA.

Some of the original furniture designs by Jim Peed, which sell for many thousands of dollars

 

 

Easley Blackwood Jr, son of the bridge whiz known to card players all over the world for his famous Blackwood 4-5 no-trump convention, was a musical prodigy while at Shortridge, making appearances as piano soloist with the Indianapois Symphony from the age of 14. He went on to study composition with Olivier Messiaen, Paul Hindemith, and Nadia Boulanger, and became internationally known as an avant garde composer as well as a distinguished concert pianist specialising in contemporary music. For 40 years he was professor of music at Chicago University, and still teaches there as Professor emeritus. He has made many recordings as a performer and his compositions have been widely recorded by major orchestras and soloists. He is also author of a scholarly work The Structure of Recognizable Diatonic Tunings, published in 1986.

 

 

 Senator Richard Lugar, yet another of Tom's classmates, was perhaps the most prominent Shortridge alumni of his time - a former Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who for some years was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and became the most senior Republican in the U.S. Senate until the rise of the so-called teaparty Republicans in Indiana who politically assassinated him for being, from their standpoint, too liberal. In 2006 TIME magazine named him one of the 10 best Senators in the USA. He is author of several political books including Letters to the Next President.

Indiana Senator Richard Lugar with Barack Obama in Russia, and Lugar's appropriately titled book

 

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