Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fiftieth Class Reunion

It's been a little more than 50 years since I graduated from high school. The event was some time in June of 1961, and it took place in the field house of the high school in Coleraine, Minnesota, the home of the Greenway Raiders. This weekend about 40 of the graduates showed up to have a reunion at the Eagle Ridge Golf Course in Coleraine. In 1961 there was no golf course there, just a rudimentary airport.

It was a much better event than I had feared. Most of the people who showed up knew me, although with some of them I had to first tell them my name. Several were glad to see me and a couple even had stories about things that happened when I was still living there. Maybe I'll tell one or two.

Before the dinner I had a tour around the town looking for landmarks, old ones mostly. This is the sign between Bovey and Coleraine that announces the name of the town you're about to enter.

This is a house in Coleraine's second addition that looks like it has been well maintained and looks somewhat better than we lived there in the 50's and 60's. Yep, 108 Hartley. The kids in front are the newest version of the kids that live there.

In Longyear Park there is an American flag made of painted stones set into the hillside. That was there in 1961 and I think it is in better shape at the moment thanks to the current set of city fathers.

And the Carnegie Public Library, a historic building built in 1910 and still in use. I was there on a Saturday morning and it was closed, but one of my classmates who lives in Coleraine assured me that it's still open during the week. I once performed a magic act in the basement of the library, when I was in my early teens.

The reunion went well and there is much to tell. The really good stories may come out at a later date, but first a few anecdotes. Dennis Hershbach, one of my classmates and now a three time published author, took me aside and thanked me for some math tutoring I did for him in high school when he couldn't get the hang of some concept. Apparently I did a good enough job to get him through the class and awaken in him a love of math. He spent his adult life being a math teacher, and he considered it unfinished business to thank me for a happening that I don't even remember.

Brian Johnson, another life time math teacher - I think in Duluth, welcomed me by complaining that if it wasn't for me he would have had the highest grade in the calculus final. He was still unhappy about it Friday night, although I think he was really just kidding. Who remembers the results of a math class final for 50 years?

Caroline Gilman, a girl from Marble who now lives in Seattle, read me the thing I wrote in her annual (the Blast) in 1961, something to the effect, "You won't remember me in 25 years, so why am I writing in this book, etc, etc" Of course she still remembers me and we had a good chuckle over the quote.

And I'm including the pictures of the 18 members of the class of about 140 who didn't live to make it to the 50th anniversary. Nine men, nine women. A third of the cheerleaders and our homecoming queen. All were missed and were the subjects of much rueful talk.

The reunion itself was a lot of fun. Most of the people are 68 and pretty mellow. Some are very well preserved and a few did not look anything like they did in 1961, even after they said who they were. It was as though they had been stolen by aliens and replaced with an imposter. I make no lists of who was who, but I want it known that I didn't have to tell very many people my name, and I am still able to wear my letter jacket that I wore those years, even after it spent 35 years in an attic cedar closet while I was eating donuts and chocolate chip cookies at work on treat Mondays.


Santini said...

Thanks for the summary. I look forward to hearing more details in the near future.

The house does look better than it did when we lived there -- the concrete front steps are gone, though. A new garage, lots of little changes. Nice to see kids playing out front again, though.

I remember a lot of the names you mentioned, and recognized a bit over half of those who have died. Some just look familiar, others I knew a bit. 68 is older than we think.

Good stories.

Tucson Happenings said...

Jim, thanks for sharing. As a little guy, I have many memories of Coleraine, the main street, the park and lake, the library, the planes landing on the lake, and the railroad tresell across the main drag. Your blog brought many of those memories back. Just to think, my grandfather chose to work as a welder with Oliver mining company and then brought over his family from Bergen, Norway to a little, but very special town called Coleraine. So long ago, but a great memory and quite a legacy for us. From your comments, you obvioudly touched many of your classmates. I'm so glad that you had the opportunity this past weekend to hear from them and their rememberances.

Great blog!