Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mama Cass, Forest Park High, Feb. 1960

I'm watching California Dreamin' (The Mamas and the Papas) on Ch. 9 and just had to dig out my Forest Park High School yearbook. Mama Cass is on the Cohen page. I knew her as Ellen. This is what I remember: When she came over to Baltimore from Washington, D.C., I think when we were in the 11th grade, she had been in Sigma Pi Sigma, a high school sorority; now she walks into Upper Park Heights and the girls at Forest Park won't let her join their snotty Baltimore chapter.

The Cohen under Ellen's picture also died young. I think Ellen died first. Marsha was a beauty queen and acrobat and our prom queen. I knew her from 7th grade on. She smiled maybe twice that I can remember (although she made Phi Delta); whereas, Ellen smiled, joked, sang and laughed all she could.

This was the Forest Park High and Baltimore of Barry Levinson's Diner, a much different place for teenage boys than for teenage girls (at least the girls I knew), but not a paradise for any of us.

Ellen Cohen (soon to become Mama Cass) second from top left

....and we all wore pearls.


Peter said...

OMG. This is fascinating. I loved Mama Cass. Her voice was amazing. Did you really know her? California Dreamin' was truly seminal stuff.

Esther Altshul Helfgott said...

Hi Peter

Yea, she was amazing. She was in every school play with her best friends, Sharon and Shelly. After graduation, they all went off to summer stock, then NY. Sharon acted awhile and Shelly, a dancer, I think left for Europe.

I knew Ellen only slightly, probably through Sharon who'd been a good friend of mine since junior high and through another Lower Park Heights neighborhood friend, Barbara. Once we all went out to a drive-in and had non-kosher cheese burgers, which was ok by me, but some of their families kept kosher, and they were ecstatic to be able to be eating away from home.

Though Ellen was in my class year, she wasn't in any of my classes. I believe she was in the commercial tract; whereas, I was in the academic. I remember her as being extremely nice, very pleasant, un-mean.

Unknown said...

This was posted a while ago but my mom has that yearbook and was in classes with Ellen Cohen. She sang duets in school with her too. Cool post!

Esther Altshul Helfgott said...

George, Thanks for writing. Who's your mom? Did she go to Forest PArk?

Unknown said...

Hi Esther, Yes, she is Judith Hoy. She graduated in '60. If I remember correctly, she said there was two different graduating classes in '60 but don't remember which she was in.

Esther said...

Judy Hoy was in everyone of my elementary school classes I think everyone. ps#59. Her mom was our school police woman and tried to say a little girl, also named Esther, from getting hit by a truck. The child died and your grandmom got a broken arm I believe. How is Judy? Please tell her hello for me. Are you on FB?

Unknown said...

Hi again Esther, I'll send you a PM.