Edition 2 - Michael Hoffman

posted Mar 3, 2016, 2:04 PM by Sierra Stevens   [ updated Mar 21, 2016, 5:06 AM by Jason Suter ]
By Sierra Stevens

Michael Hoffman graduated from Hanover High School in 1966. He was involved in football, basketball, track, gymnastics club, and more. Michael has 2 children, Mark who lives in Austin, Texas, and Patrick who lives in New York City. Michael still resides in the Hanover. Below is a picture of Michael during his senior year of high school.

What did you do after graduating?

After graduating in 1966, I attended and graduated from WVU in 1970 with a BS in Industrial Management. I returned to Hanover and started a small production machining company with my older brother. The next year, with the help of our father and some other good friends, we started a company called Hanover Lantern. We manufactured exterior decorative lighting fixtures for both residential and commercial application. We were fortunate to grow the business for 37 years when we finally sold it. I am now retired and love just about any outdoor activity including scuba diving, hiking, horseback riding, ATVing, and the like.

What clubs were you involved in?

I was involved in Varsity club, Hi-Y club, which was the high school YMCA club, football, basketball, track and gymnastics club. At that time we had an instructor by the name of Hal Reese, who was a Physical Education teacher. He’d also been a basketball and football coach at one time.  He instructed us in gymnastics and with his help, I was actually a gymnastics instructor during my first year in college. We practiced in the gym.

Photo featuring the football team from 1966. Michael is number 11. His reasoning behind picking this number was because it was the only one that didn’t wrap the whole way around his back.

Photo featuring Michael on the rings.

How did the sports teams do?

Some did very well and some did very poorly. Our track team did poorly, though football and basketball did very well. Neither of them ever lost a game to SWSD until after I graduated in 1966.

Photo featuring a football game. Michael is shown here running with the ball.

What was the curriculum like when you were in school?

Clearly there were no online opportunities nor were there any college classes available that I remember. That would have been helpful. Home Economics and Industrial Arts were required for boys and girls respectively. We had handwriting in grade school with inkwells, that’s how old I am, and typing classes in high school.

How has technology changed since you graduated?

Where do I begin? Of course, we had no computers, cell phones, iPods, iPads, or even earbuds. If we watched a recorded show on a large monitor that was wheeled into the room, that was considered technologically advanced. Typewriters were used in the office in high school, but all papers were handwritten. I don’t recall even the teachers having typewriters. Mimeograph machines were used to duplicate in the school office, but never used by students. I remember in eighth grade, a few of us disrupted a math class and Mr. Jones, our principal, decided that our punishment was to spend an hour each day with him learning to use a slide rule. It’s basically an antiquated means of mathematics. I still have the certificate of completion that was given to us along with the slide rule. That was his way of invigorating our interest in learning. He also said that you can get more out of a student with a kind word and a paddle than just a kind word alone. It was a different time!

Photo of a slide rule.

Where could you be found on Friday nights?

On Friday nights you would find me at the football or basketball games and after the games at the YWCA Canteen, which was a small facility that the YWCA had that was strictly for teenagers. We had a soda bar and pinball machines and ping pong tables. You could also find me at Porky’s Sub Shop, Bupp’s Dairy on Carlisle Street, or one of the teen dance halls.

What were your school dances like?

They were in the gym with the boys lined up on one side and the girls on the other. Some couples came together. I was always amazed at how some of the boys were such good dancers, and then I realized they all had older sisters. Chaperones were teachers who often intervened when PDA exceeded the allowable closeness. There weren’t a lot of school dances that I remember with the exception of the homecoming dance which people came to straight from the game and the prom, where seniors dressed up.

Since cell phones and other social media were not available, how did you communicate with others?

Have you ever tried using two tin cans and a piece of yarn? Really, we talked on the phone, a party line, which was when more than one household shared a telephone line. So you could pick up the telephone and your neighbor could be on talking to someone else. You could listen to their whole conversation if they didn’t know you were on, and if they did they’d tell you to get off! So we had to wait until we could get on the line and because of siblings and parents, our time on the phone was limited. We passed notes in school as well as keeping in touch during the school day.

What were your favorite memories from HHS?

My favorite memories were tied to sports and relationships that we had with classmates and teachers. Those relationships continue today. Probably 25 years after I graduated I went on a hunting trip to Wyoming with one of my old teachers. Unfortunately, only a few teachers still survive and of course we’ve lost a few classmates as well.

Who was your celebrity crush back then?

We had a singing group when I was in school and two of the members were in my class. I guess you could say that I had a celebrity crush on Debby Swisher, a classmate and member of the Pixies Three. Everyone at Hanover High School knew and loved them. They’d sing at some of our assemblies. I still keep in contact with them. They just recorded a new CD actually.

Photo featuring The Pixies Three. Debby Swisher is pictured on the left.

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

I would have taken high school more seriously, Unfortunately for me, I found high school to be more of a social rather than a learning experience. Because of that, I had to work harder to achieve my goals, including my college degree. I encourage everyone to make use of the knowledge and expertise available in high school.  

Is there any advice you’d give the current students of HHS?

Enjoy your brief time in high school. Surround yourself with good people and ambitious friends. You are about to embark on a journey that can be greatly enhanced by great friends and networking. No matter what you do after high school, get on the right track but remember even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

To conclude:

I was the second of three generations of Hoffmans who graduated from Hanover High School. I am proud to be a part of this tradition and wish the very best for the current graduates as well as future ones. My mother was a 1939 graduate and her class has had a reunion every single year since they graduated! She is now 94 years old and looking forward to their 77th high school reunion. I look forward to my 50th class reunion this year. It’s a time to catch up with classmates and laugh about old times.

Photo featuring Michael and his teammates. Michael is pictured in the middle of the front seat with both his arms wrapped around his friends.

I had a great time talking to Michael about his time here at HHS! Thank you to him for coming and allowing me to interview him! There will be monthly interviews with some other members of the class of 1966. If you have any questions you’ll like to ask any of the other alumni or you are a member of the class of 1966 and would like to be interviewed, please leave a comment below!

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