When did you graduate? Have you been back to attend reunions? Our school teachers and classmates were instrumental in shaping our lives. Last week, our class gathered one more time (maybe for the last time). We ate great food, talked, laughed and listened to the music of our time on a special Internet radio show at http://www.WAYBEE.us Regardless of where you went to school this class tribute may take you back in time.
Reunion Tribute to the Class of 1960
Our Chartiers-Houston High School class has gathered to celebrate our graduation way back in 1960. At graduation we numbered 122. Our Charconge yearbook shows an array of aspirations: secretary, military service, college, teacher, airline hostess, or millionaire (6 sought that).
Some of our classmates have left us far too soon. Several others have lost a partner along the way. Those who taught us are also gone but the lessons we learned from them remain a part of us. All of these are with us in spirit on this occasion.
So here we are; the survivors. Our faces, so fresh in 1960, now smile through the wrinkled skin that marks us late in life. Some of us require wheel chairs, walkers or canes. Many others have medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, COPD or even cancer. Yet here we are; still strong enough and determined to finish the race we started so long ago.
We were born (most in 1942) into a world that was fully engaged in World War II. Many of our family members and friends had been called to serve and some lost their lives. We came to know them only through memories shared by our parents and grandparents.
Our earliest childhood years were challenging for our families. We learned to live with rationing of gasoline, coal and some food items. We didn’t have much but we did have all we really needed to survive until the end of the war in 1945. With the war’s end our country got moving and jobs became plentiful.
We survived childhood diseases including measles, mumps, chicken pox, pink eye, whooping cough, endless ear infections and others. Vaccines and effective treatments were rare. There was also a serious polio outbreak. The polio vaccine came in time to save most of us but not all.
During our youth in the fifties we loved roller skating at Willow Beach, Kennywood Park, bowling, swimming at local pools like Canonsburg’s Town Park, playing ping pong, croquet, badminton, volleyball and horse shoes. We rode our bicycles from morning to night.
We listened on our 45 record players to Elvis, Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly. We learned to dance and loved doing it. Movies were inexpensive and featured stars like John Wayne, James Stewart, Martin & Lewis, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. On black and white TV we watched I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Lone Ranger and Twilight Zone.
“See you at Jimmie’s” echoed through school hallways. We loved his fresh cut french fries and playing pin ball for a nickel. Finally, in 1958 we were finally old enough to drive. Having access to a car was regarded as a privilege and not a birthright. Those with cars would drive their friends to the Hitchin’ Post or Eat ‘n Park. We were perpetually hungry.
Our parents expected us to help with the chores at home. Many of us earned spending money by holding jobs mowing lawns, baby sitting, delivering newspapers, etc. In 1960 the nation’s minimum wage was $1.00/ hour. Many were not being paid the minimum but were just happy to have a job.
We came together as high school freshman in 1956 from different elementary schools (Cross Roads, Meadowlands, Midland, Moninger and Houston); a rich mix of personalities, nationalities and religions. The original Chartiers High School building was far too small for our total numbers. A new school addition had to be built quickly. Construction took two years and doubled the capacity of the high school. For our first two years at the newly formed jointure called Chartiers- Houston High School, we attended for only half day a day; afternoons as freshmen and mornings as sophomores. There was lots of goofing off and little time to learn.
Almost before we knew it, our graduation arrived on June 3, 1960. It was time to say so long (but not good-bye) and get on with life. The loyalty and cohesion we had established in those high school years served to keep us together even though apart. Over the years, we have had numerous class reunions. Many of our number stay in touch to this day with visits, phone calls or email.
As we will leave this reunion we will take with us many memories of our youth and our school days. Most of those memories will be good and happy ones but a few others won’t be. Of those times, many say that “life was so simple then.” In some ways that is true while in other ways those times were anything but simple. But we made it!
While in high school, we knew we could count on each other. It is good to know that we still can. We were good people then and we still are. With Buccaneer spirit and pride, we salute ourselves. We are the 1960 graduating class of Chartiers-Houston High School.