Sunday, October 04, 2015

Still the Fun Class, fifty years later

We'll add more photos when Lorlee Bartos, class photographer, gets around to sending them.
Organizer Beverly Roers Korkowski  with
Mary Anne Hibbard Estenson
About 150 of us, which is half of the Alexandria Jefferson Senior High Class of 1965, gathered for a 50-year reunion last night. Our memories were sharp because we all had name tags with our senior pictures on them.
Barbara Kloehn Pyle, who attended a one-room country school and had the same teacher and only one classmate for eight grades before being told to report to town school in a dress, emceed the program at the Alexandria Golf Club. (Yes, that's where Tom Lehman learned to golf, sometimes barefoot.)

Thirty-three classmates have died, a beautiful book and display memorializing them drew admiration in the lobby. A couple dozen veterans, all from the Vietnam era, were called upon to identify themselves and their branch of service -- a highly unusual honor for this formerly overlooked group of men, many drafted against their will to serve in an unpopular war. Being thanked for any military service became fashionable only after the first Iraq war.

Statutes of Limitation on Certain Acts of Hooliganism and Desecration have apparently run out after 50 years, as responsible miscreants willingly admitted to here-to-fore secret deeds. Classmates were finally freed to shake their heads and fingers at naughty boys and girls for everything from toilet paper on statues to granite tombstones in the high school courtyard.

Emcee Barb Kloehn Pyle, with Charley Stark and
your blog host in yet another selfie.
As the emcee ticked off the many achievements and notables of the Class of 1965, she also included our convicted murderer, perhaps to keep us humble.

When Walter Cronkite announced the death of John F. Kennedy, we all heard the news over the same intercom. Barbara was in Mr. Morrison's History Class and she remembered the tears and the sounds of wailing from classrooms down the hall. Mostly she remembers what Mr. Morrison did for her that day and was able to thank him 52 years later when she saw him at the Douglas County Fair:

After about 10 minutes of shock and fear of the unknown, Mr. Morrison stood up and said: "Yes, the president is dead, but Vice President Lyndon Johnson will be sworn in as our new president. You are going to be alright."

Other teachers were lauded as well. We all looked down on Mr. Madson. But that was only because he was short, not because he didn't care. He had insisted on seeing BOTH of Barb's parents when he felt she could do better in biology. He just assumed two parents, she mused, an unusual assumption these days.

Later, as usual, numerous members of the Class of 1965 came over to say what a great teacher Erling Rolfsrud was. They recall his methodical drills in ninth grade English that had served them well over the years, avoiding embarrassment with misplaced modifiers and dangling participles in correspondence, writings and speech during various professional and personal endeavors. Erling's son is left to simply acknowledge the expressions and thank his father's former students for their earnest comments.

Jean Huberty lost her high school yearbook and had somehow acquired a brand new one. She spent the evening getting it autographed. Again. One classmate boldly scrawled: "To the cutest girl in the class!" And why not?

The class has six sets of twins. That's unusual, but even more so, one set has a last name of Kloehn, which is pronounced "clone." There are the usual number of cancer survivors and victims and hip and knee replacements. One hip replacement did not go well, which is unusual, as the patient promptly broke her leg, but gamely attended last night with a cane.

Not satisfied with Barb's official class summary, Tom Ellis rose to give a minority report. Barb had totally omitted mentioning Seegar's, he complained, the worthy basement pool joint just a block from junior high, where a ninth grader could smoke three cigarettes over lunch hour and still get back to class. The "hour" was really only about 22 minutes, so this was an achievement in itself. The enterprising proprietor of the smokey haven, realizing that his noon rush wanted more than mere chips and pop, thoughtfully boiled hot dogs behind the bar, and sold them for 25 cents each. Tom's mother gave him $5 a week for lunch money, so this was enough to cover meals and a pack of cigarettes.

Tom reeled off the names of Seegar's lunch hour regulars as the audience helped along, lest anyone be left from the roll. Sadly, none of the honorees attended last night, but, it was hastily noted, not because of lung cancer.
Mr. and Mrs.  Benson
Fifty years later.

Classmates Mark and Karen Benson were there from Wisconsin, they have already celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. . . which (gasp) occurred well before their 50th high school graduation anniversary. Their marriage appears as rock-steady as ever.

Almost all were born in 1947, the same year the first dynamite blast tore into the South Dakota mountain containing a statue of Crazy Horse. Three generations of the same family have carved the mountain and recently a spokesman said the job would be done by 2047, taking exactly 100 years for its completion. Looking out over the audience, Barb issued a challenge.

"Let's all get together for the dedication!"

By the looks of this robust group of healthy fun-seeking boomers, a lot of them are going to make it.

Attendees included:
Anderson, Brad; Anderson, Doug; Anderson (Roers), Judy; Anderson (Helie), Ruth; Andres (Feda), LaVonne; Bartos, Lorlee; Benson, Mark & Karen (Schjei); Bettin (Zimmel), Marlene; Bey, Russ; Bird (Meyer), Karen; Black (Arendt), Mary Jane; Blanchard, Judy; Braunschweig, Charlie; Carlson (Johnson), Jane; Davis (Seppanen), Judy; Deleski, Jerry; Drexler, Joe; Eastlund, Van; Ellis, Tom; Estenson (Hibbard), Mary Anne; Evans, Linda; Faber, Hank; Faust (Josephs), Kathy; Forster, Peter; Froemming, Steve; Gilbertson (Olson), Bonita; Hagemeister (Schultz), Kathy; Hanson (Widstrom), Paula; Helie, Bob; Hendricks (McCarthy), Diane; 
Herdan, John; Hillemeier (Salt), Jeri Lee; Hilsenhoff (Anderson), Kaleen; Howe, Mike; Hurley (Erickson), Sharon; Johnson, Greg; Kiehne, Tom; Kloehn, James; Kloehn, John; Kochie, Rob; Korkowski (Roers), Bev; Kuhne, Tom; Lagergren (Koubsky), Jeanette; Lanigan, Jerry; Ley, Louie; Linnes (Hartung), Beverly; Lommen (Spellman), Lynne; McPhee (Olson), Marilyn; Miller (Bakke), Cathy; Mithun (Marquette), DiAnn; Navratil (Meyer), Wanda; Nokes, Paul; Obert, Tom; O’Brien (Hoffman), Diane; Olson, Larry; Overly, David; Owens (Collins), Patty; Peterson (Nelson), Dorothy; Peterson, Patricia; Putzka (Pederson), Betty; Pyle (Kloehn), Barbara; Rolfsrud, Stan
Schmidt, Greg; Schroeder (Hanson), Gail; Schulke, Gary; Seltz (Graves, Sue; Serie, Dave; Skadsberg (Sherry), Kathy; Sly (Froemming), Ramona; Stark, Charlie; Steinmetz, Robert; Stramer (Nack), Sherryl; Sundblad (Anderson), Joyce; Thornton, Lonnie; Tobolt (Dokken), Betty; Toenjes, Tom; Trousil (Tvrdik), Bernice; Trousil (Dynda), Marlene; Trushenski (Bartholomew), Sharon; Van Kempen, Ellen; Wachter (Huberty), Jeanne; Wachter (Unger), Nancy; Widstrom (Wadsworth), Terrie; Williams, Darrell.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Stan. It sounds like an intelligent and warm gathering.
I'm glad you got in a visit to your parents' gravesite as well.


Korkowski Kit & Kin said...

You did a truly masterful job on recapping the evening! The night can be relived over and over again just by reading your piece. Thank you!