Harold “Sam” Samorian

Sam Samorian is a former teacher and coach for the Glenbrook schools, talking about teaching and understanding the general Northbrook area. Sam goes in depth talking about coaching football and how a team was lead to victory, with outstanding leadership. Sam expresses his feel for the area by purchasing a home in Northbrook and then…

Recorded on May 11, 2012. Length: 30 Minutes.


JH: Hello, today is Friday, May 11th, 2012. Good afternoon and welcome to Northbrook Voices, an oral history project sponsored by the Northbrook historical society and the Northbrook public library. My name is Judy Hughes and I’m pleased to welcome Sam Samorian who has lived and worked in Northbrook for 54 years. Welcome Sam. Thank you very much. Tell us why you came to Northbrook in the first place.

SS: Well, because there was a teaching job open and, Dr. Watson and West Bob Annette. Uh, I taught two other places before I taught central Illinois for two years. And then one year at Sycamore and I’d met, Mr. Barnett I believe at a basketball tournament or something like that. And he said, we have some openings here. And there was an opening in biology to start out with. And, so when he got back, I got a call from, he said, well, we fill that, but we’re going to keep your name on file. And, so the next year I got a call, we have an opening in physical education and some coaching. So that was my call to Glenbrook High School at that time.

JH: And you mentioned Dr. Watson. did he, was it a vigorous interview with Dr. Watson?

SS: No, it was very pleasant, very pleasant. A little bit about Dr. Watson. Well, he was, they used to call him tiger. He was the most mild-mannered individuals you’d ever want to meet. He was a terrific educator. he knew how to handle people and he was just a great person. My interview went very well with my thought and well, he ended up hiring me. So, and, well that was 1958.

JH: So you started at Glenbrook High School in 1958 and I noticed you said at Glenbrook High School, you want to explain

SS: Well, because there was no North or South at that particular time, and a South then opened up until the early sixties. And so, that is the reason I say it’s Glenbrook. And so we always referred to it as Glenbrook.

JH: And so the students at Glenbrook came from both Glenview and Northbrook?

SS: Yes. if I remember correctly, we had roughly about 65% of the students come from Glenview and about 35% from Northbrook.

JH: Okay. And did you finish out your teaching career at Glenbrook North?

SS: At Glenbrook North? Yes. I finished my teaching career at Glenbrook North in 1992

JH: Did you teach at south at all during those years? So you stayed at North the entire time.

SS: I had several opportunities to go to South and, I just liked North and the surroundings and I lived in Northbrook and my family grew up here, so.

JH: Okay. Tell me about your family?

SS: Well, when we first came to town, I had met a Walt Chairman at a football clinic at Fenwick, which is a, school and the football clinic cause where you going to learn a more about football and so on. And I did that while I was at Sycamore. And so I had the opportunity to talk with Walt and I said, well, I’m coming to Glenbrook. Well, he said that to his great. So we came into Bay after I’d signed the contract. We came in in, I believe it was early July, late June, early July. And I met with Walt and his wife, pastor, and they lived right over here on Catherine street and they were going to help us find a house and they had two small sons at that time. And so they help us find a place in Northbrook to live.

JH: Where did you move?

SS: We moved, right off of Church street behind that was a Christian Science church at that time. And I believe I take the Anetsbergers on that at one time after we, we rented there for about six months and then there was a home for sale out in Northbrook near Northbrook West. And so we bought the home. We didn’t have any children at that time and I always believed in, if I could financially afford it and enjoyed the community, live in the community that I taught in and that’s why we stayed in Northbrook.

JH: Okay. And, you eventually had children?

SS: Yes, we ended up, we had four boys. Like I tell everyone, how’s the family doing and I say, the boys are all gainfully employed and none of them living at home and they have done very well. My oldest son, Harold, went to Glenbrook North and, he now is a vice president of a company, that works with nonprofit organizations. He lives out in Virginia, Haymarket, Virginia, and lives on the golf course and gets to play golf. his wife, who he met in college. Is a yoga and certified yoga instructor and they have three children. And all those children. two of three of them went to school at Columbia, Missouri. Two of them graduated from the university of Missouri. The oldest boy, is now a, works for a golf company in Aiken, South Carolina. You just took that job, number two son works with an insurance company in Columbia, Missouri. And the only daughter, granddaughter that I have, works in Chicago. She worked for an accounting firm. KPGMG, and number two son Michael was born in Northbrook also. He happened to be a deaf boy, and we don’t know why he was deaf, but attended some schools in Northbrook and Illinois school for the deaf in Jacksonville, Illinois. And then he did some work at, Oakton Community College and Harper. And now he worked for the postal service. He is married and has three boys. He married Ruth Ann Cusick who was also from Northbrook. And, the oldest boy is married and has a small child. And, that is my great granddaughter. And, then a number two son and number three son, Michael’s are, college suits to present time number three, son, Patrick PJ, some orient as he’s called is a teacher at New Trier high school. He runs the debate and speech, programs over there. He’s been there. he’s only been there two years. He spent 16 years at Loyola Academy, but then he, and the opportunity to go New Trier several years ago, he took that. And then, he also teaches at Harvard, for four weeks during the summer, teaches speech and debate at Harvard. And, number four son, Thomas, lives in, lives in Chicago, but he teaches at Deerfield, the Shepherd Junior High in Deerfield. And, he’s been there 20, 20 some years, I believe now, and teaches English and taught Spanish when he was first air because he had a double major. And so that is basically about it. So we have six grandchildren and, one of them happens to be a granddaughter and a lovely Gail. And then, like I say, I gave you the information on the other. So that’s the family.

JH: Snd they all grew up. The boys all grew up here in town. where did the boys go? I know that the one son went to the old high school in Jacksonville for the Deaf. Where did the other kids go to school?

SS: They all went to school here in Northbrook and they all graduated from Glenbrook North. My oldest son, Harold, he goes by Sam also, but, he, was involved in athletics some. And then, He went to, university of Wisconsin at lacrosse. And he got his degree from there. And, he was in, like I said, he was involved in some athletics, a little football, a little basketball. Then, number three son, PJ, Patrick, was a trainer and he put, he helped with training and, he was our Waterboy prior state championship team in 1974. And then, Thomas fourth son also was a trainer and equipment man. Neither one of them were involved in athletics outside of helping, In the training room and so on.

JH: Okay. So let’s talk about Glenbrook and tell me a little bit about what you taught there and your experiences there and if there’s anything that really stands out in your mind about the school or the students.

SS: Well, number one, when I first came there, I, I think we had about 1100 students, if I remember right. And, like I said, there was quite a mixture of individuals that we had and it was a great experience. I taught basically physical education and, so I taught that all of the years that I was there had the opportunity to do some driver education in the summertime and, that helped supplant, your wages, so to speak. And, so I enjoyed that and it was a great experience. My teaching career at, Glenbrook, I really enjoyed it. the vast majority of students were just wonderful kids to work with and they were very supportive in the different things that we did. And of course we were there. I was, I was teaching there before we had a girls coed fidget, physical education with the boys because title nine came in, in the early seventies and so on. And so I really didn’t get to know the young ladies, outside of the cheerleaders and so on until that time. And, then we of course had coed classes. We’re teaching co-ed classes. So you had to adapt your thinking a little bit on certain things that you did. Had some great students, Annie Haning an ice skater and just some great kids that we had there. Donald Meyer producer, uh, Doug Grater, a baseball player and manager, Scott Sanderson, John Hughes, the film man, Frank Galotti who is, in theater down in Chicago and people like that. And they were just great kids. And it was very interesting, the majority of the students that we had, near the end of my teaching career, I think we had something like 98% go on this college. And, that very enlightening to see that many students go on to college and many of them became very, very successful at what they did And so that’s one of the reasons I enjoy teaching there. I was very fortunate in, helping with the, start the, adult evening school program, cliff cap, how helped Helfrich and myself, started the men’s evening school for men’s recreation. And near the end of the course at that time that I was teaching, we would sometimes draw, 70, 80 men at night to come to our men’s recreation class. And that was very enlightening because you got to know the people in the community that way. And so that was good. And then, after, several years there doing that, John BOLI had left and he was director to school and then he asked me if I would be director of the adult evening school. So I did that for quite a number of years. So that’s basically it.

JH: Okay. there’s a couple of things that you’ve talked about that I want to go back and touch on. First is title nine for people who don’t know what title nine is, could you explain it?

SS: Well, basically, it involves females and it titling them, them to all the things that the boys had at that time. For example, college scholarships and so on for athletics and anything involved in that. And so that’s, they tried attempted to make everything equal. So if you had a boys basketball, you have girls basketball, of course we didn’t have girls football, so you supplanted that with something else. And now, the majority of things are equal throughout. You have an equal number of girls athletics as well as boys athletics

JH: you also mentioned the championship football team. Tell us about that.

SS: Well, that was a great experience. I’ll tell you we start out the year and of course, the year before we won the state championship is the first year that they started having over times where you had played in and over overtime. And, then, when I first started coaching, we only had eight football games a year. And then in the late, late seventies, we started [inaudible] early seventies. We started anywhere along as nine games a year. And the overtime first came into effect as I mentioned before in 1973 74, we played in our conference and, we won our conference, which was whether the, one of the criteria for being involved in the state tournament. And then, we were fortunate enough to play at first game. We played against Evanston, which is a powerhouse from the word go. And he coached by Marnee Lucier was an outstanding coach.

And in the meantime, I forgot to mention that a wall chairman who was the first head football coach at Glenbrook had gone to Glenbrook South. And then when he came back from Glenbrook South in the early seventies, he became part of my staff originally I was part of his staff. And then when he came back, he was part of my staff. He coached a offensive line did an outstanding job for us. And it was great to have a person like him coach, Chuck Hanson help with the defense. And, Darrell Gordon, who was a counselor, also help with the defensive backs. As I said before, we played, Evanston in the first game and it came down to an extra point. At the end of the ball game. We were leading seven to six when they, we were leading seven and nothing. And then it came seven, six, they scored a touchdown. They went for two points and a little young man by the name right. He came up and, tackled a big back by the name of Rosansky for the last, which preserved the game. So we won the game seven to six. Our next game was against East Leyden. And the gentleman who was coaching East Leyden was a fellow by the name of Jack Leafs, would also talk with me at Glenbrook North before he became the football coach at East Leyden. we played down at, their field in, Franklin park and, we ended up beating him 13 to nothing and near the end of the ball game, he came into the white flag up there. He said, that’s it. You won the ballgame. Our next game was against Willowbrook and of course they were undefeated also. They had some huge ballplayers. I mean, you talked about big, they were big and we were not big. we were not, we had a pretty good speed for a team and but we had some very intelligent boys and we set up a few new thing for them and we went unbalanced several times in the offensive line and put our backs to one side and we did quite a bit of traffic on their interior linemen and, we won that ballgame rather handily. Then, after that we got to, find out that we had to play East St. Louis. And Gordon Ditech had played East St. Louis in the semifinals. And, so I had talk with Tom Winetki who was the football coach at, had Gordon tech at that time. And he said, man, he says, they’re loaded. They got speed, they got everything that you need. And, so we weren’t able to get any films of anything, but just, we just talked back and forth and a little bit, he got some idea. And, so when we, got to normal, I won one of my pregame talks. I, we said we always had a moment of silence before each ballgame. And, I said to the individuals who were, playing, I said, number one, I said, don’t pray to win. Just pray that you can do the best job you possibly can do. You’re going to enjoy the game. Hopefully no one will get hurt. And that, that is about it. And each level, each individual had some little thing that they put in their mind to do. And of course I, before the ball game, during that little talk, I would always turn the lights off and people say, why’d you turn the lights off? I said, well, if the lights are off, they can’t see anything. Right? But they can hear. And so I take all the modalities way except the hearing. And so we put that up and then, I made several comments about, whenever they’d gotten an easy touchdown before, it kind of opened the flood Gates, so to speak. And I said, someplace along the line, they’re going to get an easy touchdown. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen. And sure enough, we’d gone ahead and, in the ballgame. And, in the second quarter we fumbled a ball on her own. Six yard line. Guy says, Hey, coach said you’re going to get an easy one. So they got the easy touchdown and, and that was bought yet. And, someplace along the line, you know, I said, you got to play the game. Remember want to keep the wind at our back as much as we can. We played a ball control game, I wouldn’t say they had great athletes, but, three of them played in the pros. Kellen Winslow was an all pro at San Diego and then, two of the other boys played, two, one had played at, let’s see, I think he played down in Texas someplace. Another one played someplace, but three played in the pros. Nine of their athletes got major college scholarships. none of our boys yet. hello. Our claim to fame of Jack Moeller did get some help at Stanford. He played at Sanford several years. He was our middle linebacker and, and right in, and the thing I was most proud of or that team was that there were, out of the 18 starters, we had four young men go both ways. And out of the 18 starters, there was only one boy in lower half of the class academically. So we had three boys go to Harvard. One was a captain at Harbor. So you know, the caliber of individuals. So if we said something and two days later we said something else, that’s not what you said the other day, coach. So it was there, a very enjoyable, bunch of young men to coach. And, as you probably know when we’ve got a supposedly a telegram and I showed it to Taylor Bellville under sports writers and I showed it an interview I had several years ago and there was an, telegram from mayor Daley that we read at halftime. take the old West point going when the rough get going, the tough get going. And so we got going and we won the ballgame. And over time, and of course that was the first year, the state playoffs. And of course that’s the greatest memory you can have. It was the first year we won an overtime and we beat, highly regarded St. Louis team.

JH: Has Glenbrook had any other state championship football teams?

SS: No, they have not. they’ve had several when the conference and get in the playoffs and, several times, their coaches have asked me to come out and say a word or two and, I’ll always come out and say a word or two show my championship ring and this is what you’re going for right now. And, it was a great experience. And like I say, it was the first one. the, community I would say, or the school basically is, has changed a little bit in that we have canal Glenbrook South who a little bit, a little bit larger school than what we were. And, but, uh, I think our coaches do an outstanding job. along with the football. I might mention several other things and this is patting myself on the back, I would say a little bit as a player coach and official, I have been involved in the state high school playoffs in four different sports. And people said, Oh my goodness, what did you do? I said, well, I, when I was in high school, I went to Rockford East high school and we took second in the state, my senior year in high school. And, I felt that was pretty good for a 16 year old senior in high school playing in the state basketball tournament. The other thing about that was that I had worked for a year and got a college scholarship to play at a Drake university and I came back and worked out with the team a little bit and my high school coach has, you know, you’re still eligible to play high school about coming back and play high school. Because I was, I was a 16 year old seniors. I mentioned before then. We were fortunate enough, I was fortunate enough to, help, Bob Watt, with our state championship baseball team in 1966. I was his assistant when we won the state baseball championship. Some great kids. We had off that team. And, I still keep in contact with several of them. And, then, of course we won the state football championship in 74. And, I became a wrestling official in the late fifties. And people said, how do you do that? You didn’t have a background in wrestling? I said, no, but, I said they needed officials. So in 1959, I, got my wrestling card officials card and, I, officiated three basketball games and was asked to officiate 15 wrestling matches. So that was the start of my wrestling career. And, through then I was one of the first 10 certified wrestling officials, which is the highest rating you can get as an official. And, so then after that I officiated up until 1950.Excuse me, 1995. And, I have officiated 21 state final wrestling matches. I also did some college wrestling matches. I officiate the first 10 middlemen wrestling tournament, which is a college wrestling tournament at Northwestern. And I still help out there, at debt. And then, in 1995, as I said, that was my last year of officiating. And, people say, how do you remember that? So well, I said, well, that was a year before I got my Medicare card, so it’s a little harder to get down on the mat. I said it wasn’t too hard getting down on a mat, but getting back up. And so that was, that’s my, basically my athletic career also.

JH: Well, we’re coming near the end of a 30 minutes. I wanted to ask you, when the kids won the state football championship, what was your, what was the welcome here back, back in Northbrook?

SS: Well, we couldn’t believe we had dinner down there right after the game because it was an afternoon game. We played at the Illinois state university, which I happened to have my bachelor’s degree from. But uh, we got back, we talked a little bit about on the bus, what was going name, you know, and we got to the toll way over here and all of a sudden we hear the sirens going and everything like that. So we got an escort back to the school and the gym was just filled with people. And it was just, it was just so amazing when we walked in. And everybody was there cheering. And I can still remember one of the parents of a young man that I had had earlier play football for us, came up to me and he says, coach, here’s something for you. And I said, what is it? He said, just wait, wait until after this and you can open it up. And it was a, from a Greek individual, George generis, his father Gus. And it was a bottle of ouzo. And I said, I don’t know. I’ve never had, Ouzo he used to, well, just drink it very carefully. And that was, and that, and the, the assembly and everything like that was great. And so, and, so we reached a play off several other times that when I was coaching.

JH: Well, this has been a fascinating interview. Thank you.t hank you so very much for participating in Northbrook voices. Your memories of life in Northbrook will add a unique and personal perspective about the history of Northbrook. Thank you.