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John FOLEY Foley

Profile Updated: February 19, 2018
Where do you reside?
San Diego, CA USA
Significant Other(s):
Please indicate occupation(s) and personal Interest(s):
If you have children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren, please enter information about them here:
Were your parents living in Downers Grove when you were born?


From what high school did you Graduate?

St. Procopius Academy

What is your favorite memory of attending St. Joseph School?

Learning how the saints were killed

In what grade did you start attending St. Joe's?


What is your least favorite memory of attending St. Joseph School?

Learning how saints were killed

Was it your usual routine to go home for lunch?


What was your usual, most common, way of getting to school?

School Bus A yellow one

Did you have any siblings?


At peak, what was the highest number of siblings attending St. Joe's while you, too, were a student?

Two (Including Me)

During the entire time of your attendance at St. Joe's, in which of these activities and events were you a participant?

Altar Boy Could’t remember the latin
Patrol Boy In 8 th
Football Team Tackle

Can you remember the names of any of the movies we saw in the 2nd floor, beamed-ceiling, great room (before it was converted into two classrooms)?

The song of Bernadette, The Bells of Saint Mary

Did you have a before or after school job while you were a student at St. Joe's?


Please check all the places where you worked and were paid for your services.

Downers Grove News Agency Paper boy

Autobiography/Abbreviated Life Story Provided in 2008 for 50th Reunion


Father Kiley called out our names in alphabetical order. Sister Adrian Marie, our 8th grade teacher and principal, sat next to him at the plain oak table in the front of the class hidden in her black burqa with only her fat fists and bulldog face showing. This would determine the next 50 years we were told. “John Edward Foley!” he called. I meekly went to the desk. “You're going to do another year here if you don't apply yourself,” he said. I couldn't think of anything worse.

I thought of Mike Hall who a year before told our school principal to “go to hell!” The bravest person I would ever know. I didn't have that courage. But they let me out anyway, and I got to go to an all boys, no nun school, St. Procopius.

Sputnik had just gotten the country crazy about how dumb we kids were so we all were tested so some kind of elite would be given special education to match up to the Russian kids. The freshman class was divided into three groups and given teachers and classes according to their scores. I got into the top group but always thought of my self as the dumbest of the smart kids. Fr. Kiley was right, I wasn't applying myself. I drew pictures and read the books I wanted to. Like Churchill said, I didn't want my schooling to interfere with my education.

My best memories were from playing football, 3 years at St. Joseph's and 2 years at Proco. I liked hitting people the most. Quitting football was one of my biggest decisions. I'm not sure it's a regret, because I started doing other things like taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago and dish washing at Walgreen's. I liked learning about people outside of Proco and Downers. Like Paul Simon sings, getting over all the crap I learned in school.

Hoping I'd be an artist in a garret in Paris, I went to Northern Illinois University to study art. I couldn't afford anything else and was jealous of other classmates going to more elite schools.

By the time I was a sophomore, I was loosing interest in art but obsessed with every other subject. I gave up premed and dropped out of my second semester, took my college money and spent it on a trip to Europe without telling my parents. I spent my 19th birthday there. It was 1964 and the Beatles were arriving in New York while I was leaving for London. I had an offer to stay in London and work, but I had to worry about the draft and had to get back for a student deferment. The draft would determine my decisions until I was 26.

I got back to Downers and worked at Shafer Bearing graveyard shift making roller bearings for aircraft. I wasn't good at it and was probably responsible for some crashes. I went back to NIU the next fall semester and continued to go to summer school until I graduated in August 1966.

The civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam dominated my thoughts during this period even though Northern was quite square and behind other schools. I was raised by a Marine drill instructor, so the military was expected to be the next step, but I wanted to know more about who I was supposed to kill. So I enrolled in a lot of Asian history classes. I was also throwing off the chains of religion so I took a lot of European intellectual history and philosophy classes. After graduating with a degree in History, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do. I almost signed up for the Navy to be a pilot and took the physical and flight tests at Great Lakes, but the officers reminded me of fraternity brothers with all their superiority and arrogance. I had quit my college fraternity because I didn't want to wear a ridiculous beanie and kowtow to the “brothers.”

I joined the Peace Corps instead. We underwent training at the U of Arizona in Tucson in credit unions and cooperatives so we could give the people in Venezuela an alternative to communism. I never took a business or Spanish class so I was a fish out of water. I was also very quiet and didn't fit in with those selling the American way of life. But I was introduced to LSD by a person who later would become the editor of the Miami Herald. I wouldn't look at things the same way again, and it was an advanced degree in itself.

As part of the training we were flown to Guadalajara, Mexico. I was given a letter of introduction to take to the school principal in Teuchitlan, a very small fantasy town which I fell in love with. I taught English to the kids. They wanted to learn the Beatles' “Yellow Submarine”. I also fell for Leticia Quintaro who's father owned the local Pepsi distributorship-a very prestigious job. Not every draft board was giving deferments for Peace Corps volunteers and some were pulling volunteers out of the jungles of Venezuela, so I considered staying in Mexico or returning if things got hot. Years later I learned Leticia got married and had about a dozen kids.

I didn't go to Venezuela. I washed out I guess, but I was on to other things and am glad I didn't miss the rest of the 60's by being out in a jungle, although that would have been neat too. I was 24 and prime for the draft. My birthday is in February so every February the draft board in Wheaton would meet to consider me. So I got a draft deferred job teaching at a maximum security boy's reformatory at Sheridan, Illinois. I was safe as long as I kept the job. This job was worth another advanced degree. I worked with Chicago street gangs such as the Blackstone Rangers, Devils Disciples, K Town Cobras. I ran the library and bought books that they read like crazy. Ralph Ellison, Eldridge Cleaver, James Baldwin, and others. I might have gotten them to turn from crime to revolution.

It was an easy job, and we worked school hours 9 to 11, then 1 to 3. Room, board, and laundry provided, and even a personal body guard. So I saved money, bought a guitar and camera and branched out. The only problem was we were in the middle of a com field hours from anywhere, especially girls. I linked up with other co-workers of similar political bent even though the administration was made up of right wing hawks who frowned on our activities. It was now 1967 and things were happening.

A few of us went to Haight Ashbury during the “Summer of Love.” Then in October we did the march on the Pentagon. I was not part of any organized group but took pictures. In 1968 we rented an apartment in Joliet on a hill and could see the city bum after Martin Luther King's killing. By the summer a few friends of mine were working for the Eldridge Cleaver presidential campaign and I moved in with them at 55th and Blackstone in Chicago. During the Democratic Convention, I got whacked by the police in front of the Hilton but got some great photos.

After that summer people went off in different directions. I went to photography school in New York City and then lived with my aunt in DC. There I would visit Phil Verveer and his wife in Georgetown. I got a letter to report for an Army physical and complied but was looking at any other option including Canada. I had already checked out Toronto and Montreal. So February 1969 was coming soon and I tried to get a job in corrections in the DC area to no avail. DC had been set afire during the riots, so in a burnt out lot I saw a police recruiting trailer. In what later seemed like heresy to my “hipper than thou” friends, I signed up for the academy.

In Nixon's Washington, I entered the “belly of the beast.” But things were not so black and white as our generation believed. The police, I learned, were mostly the good guys. Working in Anacostia with a black officer I learned the police provide all the services we white middle class folks get from doctors, marriage counselors, and psychologists. The poor have no one else to depend upon.

I was recommended to be class leader and shout out military orders, but I felt like a spy in the midst of returning Vietnam vets, so I gave the job to a gung-ho cadet who loved it. I learned new admiration for the vets too. My best friend had been a captain commanding 800 men at age 21.

I got my draft deferment because Wheaton thought we needed police, but the moratorium against the war was coming to town November 1969. Five hundred thousand were expected. All us police cadets were to surround the White House to protect Nixon. Greyhound buses were parked bumper to bumper surrounding the White House to prevent a storming. Machine guns were set up on Capitol Hill and tanks were ready on the lawn that was later to have the Vietnam Memorial.

I had to take a stand. It wasn't hard. I quit the police and joined the demonstrators. Years later when both John Erlichman and I were living in Santa Fe and both had sons going to the same camp I learned that he was in the White House looking out when I was looking in. Talk about Forrest Gump!

You were supposed to tell your draft board if you changed jobs or location, but by this time nobody trusted rules. I was free to do what I wanted because by February 1970, I'd be 26 and not draft fodder. Sometimes I regret that avoiding the draft prevented me from doing what I wanted and maybe find an answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” So I never got a “career” and maybe never grew up-or grew up too early considering kids today. (Grumpy old man speaking.)
The 70's brought a seismic shift. Kids either started making bombs or said “screw it” and went to find a different world somewhere else. Some of my friends went to communes and some to Santa Fe which was almost another country then. It was a backwater, not on a road to anywhere. No tourists. No chain restaurants. Mostly Spanish speaking. Long haired gringos were despised, beat up and sometimes killed. Some of the Manson group were hiding here
under different names. Abbie Hoffman and Mark Rudd were starting over here. No one asked anyone's name, and it was year one for everyone.

I loved it because it reminded me of my Mexican town where I taught. I met my first wife here. She was Spanish and San Juan Indian and had a child who was four. I got a job at a photography studio and when there was not enough money, a job as a prison guard. I quickly moved to caseworker, parole officer, planner, hearing officer, then trainer. I was becoming “straight.” My Downers Grove conventionality was taking over. My wife wanted the wild life she left, so we split up about every year between 74 and 78. The last I heard she's living with a biker in Costa Rica.

I was just getting to like bachelor life when I met Kate. She was born in Santa Fe, rare for an Anglo at that time. She was ten years younger than me and still is. We got married in 1980 and had Matt in 1981.

The rest is history. A nine to five life (actually 7 to 6) until I retired. After 14 years with New Mexico Corrections I left and started in 1987 at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I first worked in Employee Relations as an investigator looking into misconduct like sexual harassment, fraud, threats, etc. Working with physicists wasn't much different than with prisoners. People are people. In the last few years at the Lab I worked as an Ombudsman helping people with the situations they would get themselves into. Some issues got national attention.

I retired in 2004 and don't miss work. I now play tennis and golf, garden, and travel. Last year I got to Vietnam on my own terms and saw the places I only read about. This winter we sailed from Argentina to Chile around the Horn. Our son graduated in math from the University of California and stayed out there. He works insuring vineyards and farms and makes enough to drive a fast car, have a view of the ocean, and not have to ask me for money.
Page 4 Of 4My sister wrote a poem about each of us in the family. About me she said, “Jack lives the furthest from home. Even when he lived at home, he was the furthest from home.” True. I never did get a career like I was supposed to, probably because I didn't listen to Father Kiley and apply myself. But I witnessed a lot of stuff, learned a lot, met a lot of interesting people, and did things I wouldn't have done if I applied myself.

School Story or Update Life Story: What's happened since 2008 that you'd like to share.

Not much. These were my glory days.

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A tough guy you didn't want to mess with.

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