Class of 1966 Provides Inspiration For This New Blogger

How does a rookie writer select something to stir alumni interest and promote feedback while easing into his first blog? The inspiration and answer came while attending the Class of 1966’s recent 50th Reunion.

When Foothill opened in 1962, this group became the first freshman class.  I also arrived that same year as a young teacher/coach who would have the honor to coach and teach many of them during their 4-year tenure. At the reunion, I was given a unique opportunity to learn about their lives, careers and cherished high school memories, 50 years later.

All reunions seem to start with photos and name tags followed by the ritual of attempting to identify older classmates. Sometimes loss of vision, hair and added pounds  means the ID process can only be completed by an up close squint at name tags. But, after a few drinks and great dinner, this awkward stage vanishes as these “senior citizens” start their slide into becoming. carefree, fun-loving teenagers once again. They now seem to enjoy sharing their past experiences in life.

Pete Gates, Student Body Vice President, was a glib emcee whose comments produced laughter and fond memories. I then had the opportunity to express my appreciation for the invitation, and relate how special this class was in my teaching and coaching career. There were also somber moments upon viewing the Memory Board of classmates who were no longer with us. Another came when all vets and those who served in Vietnam were asked to stand.  It was a vivid reminder of the devastating effect this war had on this class, and our nation.

I shared a table with former cheerleaders Teri Hudson, Kathy Foster, Peggy Young, Linda Lowe, Susan Petrulas , and Helen of Troy Pam Swearingen. The range of conversation included flashbacks to the rigid, old dress code of no short dresses, shirt tails tucked in and no long hair, and so much more. These flashbacks helped me formulate the three main topics of this blog. It was amusing to watch them all tap away on their iphones while reflecting on the old days when they had to go to the library, open a book and write a report!  But, they all have retained their grace, charm, beauty and dance moves all these many years.  And, while they all live in different towns and states, they still manage to meet every year to enjoy each others company.

Janie Scism, our Block F Queen, came by to visit as did Paula Rosamondo, who was in my first Homeroom class. Another one of the many nice visits was with Senior Class President Ralph Tarr.  Ralph is an attorney now and Dartmouth grad who shared his interesting association with President Ronald Reagan. These are the types of stories we hope to learn and share in the future.

When Carmelo Adame posted the 1965 newspaper article of Foothill’s dramatic 12-9 win over BHS, it attracted a large crowd.  Hearing what a special moment that was for so many was heart-warming for this old coach.  That certainly was the most memorable moment in my coaching career, and is still recalled as one of the greatest games ever played in Kern County history.  Just writing on the accomplishments of those on that 1965 team would make for an interesting future column.

As you can probably tell, the Class of 1966’s 50th Reunion gave me a glimpse into some special memories.  This group had gone through some of the most exciting and turbulent times in history-the Vietnam war, campus unrest and protests, the death of President JFK, civil rights, the drug and hippie culture, Beatlemania etc.-and they persevered through it all to become productive citizens.

As I was making an early exit, there were many nice “thank yous” and “goodbyes”.  My final look back caught a group that was laughing, dancing and enjoying each other’s company as if a time machine had transported them back to 1966. This is the way life should be celebrated and enjoyed.  This whole evening served to remind me how blessed I was to be a teacher and coach for 40 years at Foothill. Hopefully, this class and others will choose to stay in touch and contribute through the blog and on Facebook.

Thanks in advance!