Monday, March 28, 2011

The Class of 1964 turns 65

I'm not going to spend much time here strolling down memory lane, but do feel it fair to point out that I'm not the only one turning 65 this year. Although there's a little variance, the same thing is happening to all 16 of us who remain of the 18-member Russell High School Class of 1964.

I ran into a classmate, Pam, at HyVee the other day and said I'd try to post some of the photos from what I believe was our 20-year reunion during the fall of 1984 (I think). Or was it 25? They're not very good photos, but we waited until too late in the day to take the group shot, it was arranged a little too hurriedly and none of us were focused on taking photos anyway.

We were (from left) Nancy Allen, Gary Seibert, Pam Johnson, Linda Gartin standing directly in front of Sandy Walker, Gwen Cottingham, Steve Pierce, Barbara Seibert, Donna Edwards standing directly in front of Frank Myers, Carmen Dorsey and Dick Christensen.

Gary Seibert didn't graduate with us, but I believe had been a class member at one time and moved to Chariton to graduate. He was fighting cancer when this photo was taken and died not too long thereafter. Sandy Walker also has died. Our classmate Albert Johnson --- a victim of the great unfairness of life --- died in a car crash less than a year after we graduated. The rest of us still are around in one state of repair or another.

Class members not included in the photo were Larry Arnold, David Winsor, Jeanette Cochran, Sue Price, Mike Cremeens and Carol Dawson. Golly, I hope I've gotten this right.

Classmates Nancy Allen (left) and Gwen Cottingham.

We were an extremely close-knit class, so it's a little surprising that we've not gotten together as a group since this reunion, but the Russell Alumni Association sponsors an all-school reunion every five years anyway for those inclined to reunite, so that's probably part of the explanation.

Even then, even in Iowa, an 18-member high school graduating class was considered small --- but the quality of the education we received was very high and we managed to have a very good time while getting into remarkably little trouble.

The only real trouble we got into as a group, as I recall it, involved the small-town hobby of chasing fire trucks. We were at class play practice one evening when the town siren went off. Everyone automatically ran out of the gymnasium, piled into cars and we chased the trucks to a disappointing false alarm on the edge of the state forest northeast of town. This vanishing act distressed our drama coach, obviously not attuned to small-town life, and so we had to go as a group to his house, apologize and beg him to return.

Classmates Barbara Seibert and Pam Johnson.

Our last major outing together was a week-long class trip by chartered bus to New Orleans. Can you imagine that happening in this day and age?

Later that summer Sue Price and I sang together at Carol Dawson's wedding to Alan Lockridge at Sunnyslope Church of Christ. Sunnyslope is an a cappella Church of Christ, which presented a few challenges, but we managed it --- including a processional. There was an electrical storm during the wedding and the lights went out --- but we had plenty of candles (and no musical instrument reliant upon electricity to operate). So it all worked out --- as did the Dawson-Lockridge marriage.

Our bar tender Carl Werts (class of 1965 I think) and classmate Donna Edwards.

While I was a student at Russell, we were the Bluebirds --- not considered an aggressive enough mascot on playing fields by some. So soon thereafter, Russell teams became the Trojans --- at that time unfortunately the most widely recognized brand of condom and now a computer virus. I liked Bluebirds better.

But that's a moot point  because Russell Community School has vanished, too, fighting on in typical Russell fashion until the bitter end --- when the state stepped in a few years ago and closed it because of declining enrollment and resulting financial difficulties.

I hate that in a way and wish more young people could experience the benefits of small, now considered impractical on nearly every level.


Anonymous said...

Frank, The pictures were from our 25th reunion which would have been 1989. I remember because after attending the reunion, my husband, youngest son and myself went on to Louisiana to visit our oldest son and wife and our first grandchild who was one that fall. I seldom think of being almost 65 (until I look in the mirror) although the fact that I am the proud grandmother of 13 (soon to be 14) grandchildren and the great grandmother of 2 beautiful baby girls should be some indication. My husband, Lee, went home to be with the Lord nearly 4 1/2 years ago following a losing battle with cancer. I keep busy (sometimes more so than I want)and have much to be thankful for. Last year at this time I was part of a mission group that spent 2 weeks in NE Brazil working along side of Alan Pierschbacher, a Chariton, Iowa native, where he ministers at a Bible retreat center in the mountaians southwest of Fortaleza and just 2 days ago I returned from another mission trip to a Bible camp in eastern Montana. This time I was the head cook for the group of 14 plus local folks who stopped by to help with the work we were doing on the camp buildings. I am the "team grandma" and love the role. There is serious talk about a trip to Papua New Guinea in 2012. Not sure if I will volunteer for this outing or not. Thanks for the pictures and the special memories from long ago. I agree, more kids need to have the privilege of being a part of a small town school and community. So thankful that God saw fit to bless me with that experience. Linda

Frank D. Myers said...

Hey Linda --- thanks for clarifying the year. I could not remember. And I was just thinking of Idaho this morning. We're getting ready for the historical society annual meeting, where the program will focus on the Iowa farm crisis of the 1980s as seen through the eyes of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Peterson. Part of that involved digging out of storage a display related to the 1988 haylift to Lucas County and other parts of southern Iowa from the Palouse region of Idaho, something I'd almost forgotten about. It sounds like keeping busy in your case is putting it mildly. Montana I'm ready for, Papua New Guinea, I'm not so sure about. Great to hear from you!