EDITOR’S NOTE: Fifty years ago, the Jonathan Alder High School Class of 1964 graduated from high school. The class will be the hosts of the annual Jonathan Alder Alumni Banquet at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 24 at Der Dutchman restaurant. To make reservations, call (614) 873-4052. The following is a little stroll down memory lane for them and all the other Baby Boomers.
Fellow first-year Baby Boomers, take note: We are on the threshold of age. Somehow, the Class of 1964 is about to celebrate its 50th high school graduation anniversary. How this could happen when we are all still so young? I’m not certain. No doubt it has something to do with the time-space continuum. (I knew I should have paid more attention in physics class.) But however long it’s been, we have had quite a ride.
It began in 1946, when the country was trying to adjust to being at peace for the first time in five years. My parents bought a refrigerator at Bob Jackson’s Appliances. They got to bring the shell home, but had to wait several months for the motor, until the company that made it retooled from its wartime production.
Our preschool years were largely spent outside. Having to stay in was a punishment. We also had some bad winters then. I remember my grandfather bringing one of his race horses hitched to a sleigh down Chillicothe Street from the park. There were still actual programs to listen to on the radio — comedies and dramas and kid’s shows. “Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders,” “The Lone Ranger” and my favorite, Roy Rogers. Later on in the 1950s, heaven was getting to sit in the manager’s box at the Ohio State Fair for the Roy Rogers show.
When we were inside, some of us had an amazing box in our living rooms. It was called a television. Do you remember Aunt Fran and the Wishing Well and the happy-good-bye faces? We made a star out of a freckled piece of wood called Howdy Doody. And a bit later there was Captain Kangaroo in the Treasure House with all his friends to entertain us. Oh, yes, and Roy Rogers turned up there, too.
When we started school in 1952, all 12 grades were in the big building on West Main Street. We soon got to move into rooms in the new addition. Remember carrying your chairs down the hall from your old room to the new one? In 1957, the high school kids moved to their new building on U.S. Route 42, but we were too busy with learning cursive writing and trying to spell “Presbyterian” to really miss them. We dealt with mumps and measles and chicken pox (no vaccinations then — you had to be tough), and having tonsils out and getting glasses. During the summer we had to survive without a municipal swimming pool, but we joined 4-H and planted gardens and raised sheep and baked Snickerdoodles. And boy, were we big stuff when we finally got to move upstairs for junior high.
In 1960, we were back at the bottom of the pecking order as freshmen at Alder. Wasn’t it amazing to realize that Miss Barto had taught our parents? We joined FHA and FFA, Hi-Y and Y-Teens. The girls took Home Economics and discovered the joys of the physical education uniform. The boys took vo-ag and shop, and learned to watch their step on the football field if the cows from the other side of the fence had been out. The cheerleaders wore knee-length skirts or slacks, and the juniors decorated the gym for prom. There were no limos or all-night parties.
We learned what P.O.D. stood for, and how to scramble for the two electric typewriters in Mrs. Sayre’s typing class. We took driver’s education class. Why was it always taught by football coaches who spent most of their time encouraging people to run into each other?
Finally, we made it to our senior year. Top of the world, Ma! Quill and Scroll, National Honor Society, best seats in the auditorium. Of course, everything stopped that rainy Friday in November when Miss Myers stepped into the cafeteria study hall and turned up the radio so we could hear the news from Dallas. Who could forget the sight of the flag in front of the school at half mast as the buses pulled away?
It took a while for us and for the country to begin to get back to normal. But in February, there were those four chaps from England who seemed poised to give even Elvis a run for his money in the music world. (We were, for the record, of the Pat Boone, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Elvis era.) And then later in the spring Ford came out with this really cool car they called the Mustang just in time for graduation.
For our class trip, we had lunch at Lincoln Village Lodge and then went to the Ohio Theater to see “It’s a Mad, Mad, World.” For we were wild and crazy guys.
We had all that fun without the benefit of computers, cellphones, Tweeting, apps, remote controls, standardized testing or Velcro. If we wanted to contact a friend, we called them on the telephone — “land lines” is the current term — or even walked to their house. Drugs were what Dr. Karrer or Dr. Ingmire prescribed. Remember those square blue penicillin tablets? There were four channels on the TV — WBNS, WLW, WTVN and WOSU.
So, my fellow members of the Class of 1964, join me in a toast to all the good times and good friends. Raise your glass of Tang and repeat after me: “It’s been a hard day’s night, but when I get around you, I find the things that you do, will make me feel all right.”
Rosemary Anderson is a member of the Jonathan Alder High School Class of 1964.