The F was constructed after the faculty refused to authorize its construction. The plan was to make an F that resembled the F on the class ring. We saw a void where the Ben Franklin statute had stood and we filled that void on our campus. The statute was moved indoors during the fall of our senior year because it was vandalized. It was being spray-painted. I always thought rival football opponents had been the culprits. However, after reading Randy’s historical account, it could have been race related. I do remember Ms. Barkemeyer in an emotional scolding, saying something about the perpetrators running roughshod over the sentiments of ……….(something meaning respectable people)
Tom Fincher and I (and perhaps others- I do recall Pat Overson helping get the grass to put under the F during the presentation ceremony after graduation) requisitioned the materials, made the form out of cardboard, some rebar and coat hangers on a plywood template. The F was manufactured in Tom’s backyard in Lakewood North. Tom recalls making two prototypes. One became part of the levee at the 17th Street Canal, near where the Katrina breach occurred. The other has survived 50 years.
After the party at Skip Shipman’s house, a group of us went to install the F in the circle in the front yard of the school. Picture the axe man chopping on the grass sods to fit the circle, prior to giving the F its initial resting place. The night watchman pictured some wrongdoing and called the NOPD. The police were nice and had burgers with us at the new burger place on the corner. They thought it was a great idea. That shows you the difference in outlook of certain people. The next day, Ms. Barkemeyer announced that graduation would be withheld unless the perpetrators of the F installation fessed up, and we folded. Ms. Barkemeyer was frequently wrong, but never in doubt.
The F remained in its spot on Carrollton Avenue for about thirty years. The year that Ben Franklin moved to Leon C. Simon, the F mysteriously disappeared. The principal was disappointed because he had planned to move it to the new school location. A few years after the F disappeared, I was walking along Exposition Blvd about a block from my house, when I saw the F propped up against a fence being thrown out in the trash. I asked my neighbor and she said that her son, a recent graduate of Franklin had taken the F just before the school moved and that it had been in the lower level of their house (New Orleans basement) for a few years until she decided to throw it out.
I was elated to find it. I repaired it and the Class of 64 officially represented it to the school at our next reunion (1994). It has been at the school since then, but had fallen into disrepair after Katrina. On October 24, 2014 we will present the F to the school for the third time.
Victor Farrugia, Class of 1964
[Editor's note: The photo of Victor guarding the F was damaged by Katrina. Despite the damage, I was unwilling to profane the image by editing its color balance. It is presented here as-is, in all its ethereal glory.]