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(146,530 posts)
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 12:21 PM Apr 2013

An Almost Baby Boomer 50th HS Reunion

Last edited Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:52 PM - Edit history (1)

I liked high school, pretty much. As a member of the Class of 1963, I was born in 1945, a year before the official start of the Baby Boomer generation. Last night, I pulled out my senior year HS yearbook to begin trying to connect names and faces again. In June, we're having the 50th reunion for our Southern California small-town class of just 106.

As I look at the faces of my classmates, all 17 or 18 years old, I remember those hair styles and those clothes, and a little bit of information about most of the people I was looking at. Most of us went through all 12 years of school together. It's been 50 years since we left high school and went on to do whatever we went on to do. A lot has happened in those 50 years. Some of the faces are of people who have died. How many, I'm not sure, but I imagine there will be a list at the reunion and we'll all have a moment of silence for those who have gone where we're all bound to go.

1963. How much things have changed since then. How much water has passed under the bridge between my home town and the town next to it.

The Vietnam War - I remember clearly the day that there was a school assembly held for all of the guys in my class. It was near the beginning of the school year. A man in an Army uniform explained the Selective Service System and told us that we all had to register when we turned 18. Forms were passed out. Vietnam was heating up, little by little, and we'd all be facing that over the next few years. Six of my classmates died there, that I know of.

Technology - Our typing classes used old Underwood manual typewriters. IBM Selectrics were around, but not in high school typing class. Our television sets were still in black and white. I bought my first transistor radio in 1962, and had it taken away by my Junior year history teacher for listening to it in class. In 1964, I was taking FORTRAN programming classes and creating programs on IBM punch cards at college. The PC was far in the future, and wasn't even on our minds. Telephones in my little town didn't even have dials on them yet. We were the last city in California to hear a dial tone.

Politics - JFK was President during my senior year. In my junior year, I participated in a 50-mile walk at his behest. We all pretty much loved him. He was assassinated in my Freshman year at a nearby state college. We were devastated. In the meantime, the Civil Rights movement was creeping into our newspapers, little by little, and we were all worried about this Vietnam thing. We remembered the Korean War, and some of the parents of kids in my class had served there. I had listened to my father talk a little about being a B-17 pilot during WWII. We were concerned about Vietnam in 1963, but not that concerned. We were soon to become very concerned. In California, the John Birch Society was the Tea Party of the day, and Democrats seemed far better to most of us high schoolers.

Sex - We were adolescents, so this was a big deal. In 1963, there was no available birth control pill, and condoms had to be purchased at the pharmacist's counter. It didn't matter, because it was illegal for the pharmacist to sell them to anyone under the age of 21, anyhow, and each package had a label that said, "For the prevention of disease only." Abortion was highly illegal, although there was one doctor in town who was rumored to provide them in some cases. But, we were adolescents, so we were having sex anyhow. Some of us were. More than you'd think. Way more than our parents thought.

Cars - No seatbelts for us. Lousy gas mileage, but we didn't care. Gas was about a quarter a gallon, and a group of kids could always pull enough change out of their pockets to cruise around. Air pollution? That was called smog, and it was in Los Angeles. Skies were clear where I lived. Some lucky kids actually had their own cars. My parents felt that a car would interfere with my studies, so for a graduation present, I got a 1958 Harley-Davidson 165, an under-powered small motorcycle that served nicely to interfere with my studies. My parents were a little naive in that decision.

Jobs - Everyone had jobs in 1963. I delivered milk between 5 AM and 8 AM every day while in High School $1.25/hour. I was rich. I figured that if I could ever earn as much as $10,000 per year, I'd be set for life. Hah!

Dreams - We had those, but they were mostly mundane dreams. Family, education, a career. We were still modeling ourselves after our parents in 1963, and knew no other options yet.

Change - It was coming, but hadn't quite arrived yet. I had started listening to this singer named Bob Dylan in 1963, along with a female singer I had a major crush on - Joan Baez (I met her the next year, very briefly. We didn't hit it off.). They were singing about stuff that wasn't so much a part of my real life at the time, but I was hearing more and more about some of the things in their songs, and it was stuff that I thought needed thinking about. So, I thought about it and listened to more. The next year, I'd travel up to San Francisco on many weekends and hang around North Beach and meet some other people with really interesting ideas.

So, 50 years has gone by. Lots of stuff has happened, and lots of change has arrived. Some of my classmates still live in that small town, and never left. Others took off right after graduation and never came back, except for brief visits. I'm one of the latter group. My sister, a year behind me, stayed, as did my brother, who is five years younger. My parents are still alive, at 88 years of age, but are fading far more quickly than I'd like. I live in Minnesota now, and will fly back there with my wife to go to that 50th reunion. It will be interesting to see who stayed locked into a 1963 state of mind and who embraced the changes that were beginning to emerge. I don't stay in touch, so I'll be looking at my old classmates without knowing much about their past 50 years. It will be interesting.

So, I'm looking at those youthful faces, studying names, and thinking about all of the changes that have occurred. I wonder what I'll find in my old hometown when we all get together after 50 years. Like everything that has happened since then, it will be interesting, I'm certain.

Just to help you visualize: Here are side-by-side photos of me, then and now:

57 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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An Almost Baby Boomer 50th HS Reunion (Original Post) MineralMan Apr 2013 OP
MineralMan.....this was really great. I graduated high school in 1970 livetohike Apr 2013 #1
Thanks. I'm sure I'll write something about it afterwards. MineralMan Apr 2013 #2
I graduated in '66. I'm interested in what he finds also. In_The_Wind Apr 2013 #3
1963 grad here! Lugnut Apr 2013 #4
You're more than welcome. MineralMan Apr 2013 #5
My 50th was in 2009 and it was a bit depressing tularetom Apr 2013 #6
That's a risk. I don't know how many will come to this MineralMan Apr 2013 #7
The cars one is a thought, isn't it? Zax2me Apr 2013 #8
Cars have improved dramatically, and not just in safety. MineralMan Apr 2013 #9
Odometers back then only had 5 digits. adieu Apr 2013 #41
Yes. And the old cars I owned had often turned over once MineralMan Apr 2013 #43
Our 50th is in September. MrYikes Apr 2013 #10
I hope you'll be attending. It's a once in a lifetime event. MineralMan Apr 2013 #11
My 45th is coming up later this year. SteveG Apr 2013 #12
Thanks. You're in the same graduating year as my brother. MineralMan Apr 2013 #13
MineralMan - I'm the same age and class ('68) as your brother. xtraxritical Apr 2013 #48
Actually, I dropped out of college in 1965. MineralMan Apr 2013 #49
Well glad to know ya! xtraxritical Apr 2013 #57
My 45th this year, too frazzled Apr 2013 #18
culottes - oh yeah xtraxritical Apr 2013 #50
We had about 400 in my class SteveG Apr 2013 #56
Hey MM - WinniSkipper Apr 2013 #14
Me in 1963 and Now MineralMan Apr 2013 #19
Awesome WinniSkipper Apr 2013 #26
That was a great idea. I also added them to the OP. MineralMan Apr 2013 #28
Same guy? Maybe...but guy in the left photo looks WAY smarter. FailureToCommunicate Apr 2013 #36
Too soon old; Too late smart. MineralMan Apr 2013 #40
Nah. I've read your stuff here on DU. You're still wicked smaart! FailureToCommunicate Apr 2013 #42
Some would just say wicked, I'm sure. MineralMan Apr 2013 #44
Thanks, MM. I SO enjoyed reading that. I'm 5 years younger than you but it all rang true. CurtEastPoint Apr 2013 #15
Thank you! MineralMan Apr 2013 #45
Dear MM, True Story: I'm in Florida and missed our reunion ('58 NJ). Anyway my friend and her monmouth3 Apr 2013 #16
LOL! MineralMan Apr 2013 #20
Psychology Today has had articles over the years on HS reunions pinboy3niner Apr 2013 #17
Very Funny! That's for old people, though. MineralMan Apr 2013 #21
Wow, what a flood of memories! rustydog Apr 2013 #22
Thanks for sharing your story! MineralMan Apr 2013 #23
At my first HS reunion I was told, "You can't be here--you're dead!" pinboy3niner Apr 2013 #24
The more time that passes, the less some stuff hurts, MineralMan Apr 2013 #25
I'm 10 years younger Maeve Apr 2013 #27
Thanks for your memories! MineralMan Apr 2013 #29
LMSP kicking...n/t littlemissmartypants Apr 2013 #30
Thanks for the kick. MineralMan Apr 2013 #31
... littlemissmartypants Apr 2013 #33
Class of 61 sarge43 Apr 2013 #32
A hell of a ride, indeed. MineralMan Apr 2013 #37
I look forward to your update! Phentex Apr 2013 #34
I'll be sure to post it. MineralMan Apr 2013 #38
I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for writing it. StrongBad Apr 2013 #35
And thank you for reading it! MineralMan Apr 2013 #39
$10,000 a year, that was the number. If I could have earned that I'd have been set for life 1-Old-Man Apr 2013 #46
Well, at the time, it was a good goal. MineralMan Apr 2013 #47
born 46.... first year boomer oldhippydude Apr 2013 #51
Hi, MM. Have a great time, now and after reunion; elleng Apr 2013 #52
Another member of the Class of '63 checking in... Surya Gayatri Apr 2013 #53
I went to my xxqqqzme Apr 2013 #54
Thanks for the stroll through history! smirkymonkey Apr 2013 #55


(22,344 posts)
1. MineralMan.....this was really great. I graduated high school in 1970
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 12:25 PM
Apr 2013

Can't wait to read your review of the reunion. Have a wonderful time .


(146,530 posts)
5. You're more than welcome.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 12:47 PM
Apr 2013

I almost never think about those days. This reunion has prompted me to do that, and I'm glad of it.


(23,664 posts)
6. My 50th was in 2009 and it was a bit depressing
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 12:52 PM
Apr 2013

In that there were only 18 of there out of a class of 86.

About a quarter had died and another 20 or so had were off the radar.

I was probably the one who traveled the farthest to attend and I live about 80 miles away.

Looking back I'm amazed at what we thought was important then.


(146,530 posts)
7. That's a risk. I don't know how many will come to this
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 12:58 PM
Apr 2013

reunion. There's a facebook page for it, but the people organizing the reunion haven't indicated how many have signed up for it. The deadline is supposed to be May 15 for reservations. Maybe we'll know more then.

Quite a few from my class live in the area around that town in California. How many will be flying in, I have no idea. A lot of the parents are dead who still lived in the town, so that may also limit attendance. For me, it's another good reason to fly out there and see my own parents. Any time I visit could be the last time I see them, and that thought is plenty of encouragement. We can't really afford the trip, but we are doing it anyhow, courtesy of Visa. We did find reasonably-priced flights, though.

I'm hoping for a good turnout, but will take what I get.



(2,515 posts)
8. The cars one is a thought, isn't it?
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 12:58 PM
Apr 2013

I remember car accidents in the 60's 70's. No one wore seat belts, the cars were extremely heavy and bodies were just decimated after accidents.
We've come a long way in car safety.


(146,530 posts)
9. Cars have improved dramatically, and not just in safety.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:02 PM
Apr 2013

My father had an auto repair garage. Valve jobs and engine overhauls were common then, and cars with 100,000 miles on them were rare, indeed. Today, most auto engines go at least 200,000 miles without any work at all on their internals. Much higher efficiency, and far better engineering have really improved them.

Air bags are another major improvement. Our cars today are way, way better than those old ones.



(1,009 posts)
41. Odometers back then only had 5 digits.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 02:56 PM
Apr 2013

Going over 100,000 miles would have reset the odometer back to 0000X.

Automobile safety, as I mentioned in the thread about America ignoring the daily death toll from guns, has improved by leaps and bounds, with the auto industry dragged kicking and screaming to put in the safety features.

Until we do the same thing with guns (sorry if I'm thread-jacking), we're going to continue to have the same high level of death from guns.


(146,530 posts)
43. Yes. And the old cars I owned had often turned over once
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:00 PM
Apr 2013

before I bought them.

As for the guns thing, that's another thread.


(720 posts)
10. Our 50th is in September.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:09 PM
Apr 2013

We have a guy that put together an Excel spreadsheet with addresses, emails, live/dead and other stuff. With over 400 grads it is quite a job.
I remember most of what you talked about though striving for sex would have been listed number one. The car I drove cost $25 and was worth not one penny more. I remember pulling into a gas station and asking for a dimes worth. The guy asked "Do you want that in the tank or the carb?"
I also remember how girls would cover my class ring with yarn. and the cohesiveness of the "school spirit". Attendance at school games was huge. I wanna do it again.


(3,109 posts)
12. My 45th is coming up later this year.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:20 PM
Apr 2013

I graduated in '68 and remember pretty clearly all of the things you speak of.


(146,530 posts)
13. Thanks. You're in the same graduating year as my brother.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:22 PM
Apr 2013

Things were pretty much the same for him, except that my parents did let him have a car. They finally figured out that the motorcycle probably wasn't their best idea ever.



(3,576 posts)
48. MineralMan - I'm the same age and class ('68) as your brother.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:16 PM
Apr 2013

I remember everything as you say it was until 1966. It seemed like the world did a 180 in 1966, all of a sudden it was Vietnam war protests all over the country, civil rights riots in the big cities, weed that was never around before was available, lsd too (legal at the time), and of course hair was no longer short and trimmed. It just all went baloooee like some one flipped a switch.

I was raised in the world you described and had the same mundane aspirations. When everything went nuts in the '60s I did not know which way to go and tried to act cool but I made a lot of bad choices because I was not prepared for the "chaos" of the times. In some ways it still affects me. I think because you're older you were more established when the shit hit the fan. You probably made it thru college (affordable) and there were employers wanting to talk to you on graduation day. All that had changed by my day and is much much changed currently. Thanks for the reminiscences.


(146,530 posts)
49. Actually, I dropped out of college in 1965.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:18 PM
Apr 2013

I ended up in the USAF for four years, and came back to finish college afterwards. I have worked for myself since 1974, and haven't held a regular job since then. So, I sort of was on hiatus for a while, and then picked up in the middle of things. I sort of bridged the times.


(18,402 posts)
18. My 45th this year, too
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:43 PM
Apr 2013

Only my high-school experience was pretty different: a class of around 1,000 students ... only one of which (because she was a neighbor as well) I've had any contact with in the past nearly half-century. So I don't even know if I want to go.

I remember everything besides the Selective Service talk, perhaps because I was a girl. I remember not having calculators in school yet (they existed, but were exotic and expensive). We had to use slide rules instead. I remember these endless math problems in chemistry class for which I'd do pages worth of long division by hand. Yup, typewriters, slide rules ... and the beginnings of miniskirts. Females were not allowed to wear pants to school. That remembrance of standing out in the cold in a skirt in the dead of winter bewilders me still.

Maybe you were in my class. Who knows.


(3,109 posts)
56. We had about 400 in my class
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 05:30 PM
Apr 2013

at Mt. Pleasant, in northern DE. I do remember the Selective Service talk. I also remember the Convention in Chicago that summer, I started college that fall and met a number of the protester's who had been there.

The calculator's were very expensive and used an input system called reverse Polish notation to enter the problems. It was a very different era. This is not the future we hoped for.



(363 posts)
14. Hey MM -
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:24 PM
Apr 2013

odd request here. I saw you posted your pic here the other day (otherwise would never ask). Any chance we can get a side by side w/ your HS grad photo?


(146,530 posts)
28. That was a great idea. I also added them to the OP.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 02:28 PM
Apr 2013

Still the same guy, hidden behind the white hair and beard, I think.


(18,856 posts)
15. Thanks, MM. I SO enjoyed reading that. I'm 5 years younger than you but it all rang true.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:35 PM
Apr 2013

Let's hear the followup soon, OK? Have a good visit.


(3,871 posts)
16. Dear MM, True Story: I'm in Florida and missed our reunion ('58 NJ). Anyway my friend and her
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:38 PM
Apr 2013

husband went to the lovely hotel in the small town we lived in. They weren't sure which room it was so she started opening doors and peeking in. "Couldn't be the this one, only old people in there." Of course it was the right room, someone overheard her and she was teased all night. Have a wonderful time...


(53,339 posts)
17. Psychology Today has had articles over the years on HS reunions
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:41 PM
Apr 2013

From what I remember, people go to the initial reunion to impress, then they get more real at later ones. Finally, they end up looking for a roommate for the retirement home.


(9,186 posts)
22. Wow, what a flood of memories!
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 01:58 PM
Apr 2013

The Vietnam War : My draft number was 315 in 1972 (still is, I found the card the other day!) The war was winding down and Nixon had a secret plan.

Technology: We had similar typewriters in class! I still remember the movement and sound of the keys, the ribbon advancing with each stroke of the keys.. Computers were new and ENORMOUS.

Politics: Nixon, nuff said. But my Best Friend and I received awards in HS for raising awareness with our weekly reader board messages..."Tricky Dicky gone to China...rotsa ruck!" needless to say, we were called to the principals office regularly but recognized for raising awareness!

Sex: Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll!

Cars: seat belts (lap belts actually) long gas lines, first car: 63 VW bug

Jobs: Never long without a job: Picked fruit while in school, delivered local news paper (on bicycle), washed dishes, fry cook, went from one job to another after a year or two, searching for my life... I shared rent on an apartment, paid car payments, ate, entertained on 2.75 an hour.

Dreams: in 1972, enlisting to avoid the draft (I know it isn't the Romney way) and failing the physical. I can still say with pride I tried.
at 18 years old? getting laid, having cool 8-track tapes for crusin' the ave on Friday nights...camping, fishing, hunting...living.

Change: Wasn't a word, it was happening. voters rights, women's rights, Watergate and the fallout...

We've come a long way baby.

If you are having some trouble identifying classmates here's a hint

(Last year I attended my 40-year reunion. A couple of very -old classmates and Kept asking each other: Who is that!???)
sit back and watch for a few minutes. watch the eyes, smiles and listen for the laugh...they never change over the years!

Enjoy your reunion!


(53,339 posts)
24. At my first HS reunion I was told, "You can't be here--you're dead!"
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 02:05 PM
Apr 2013

People had read newspaper stories about me being seriously wounded in Vietnam and assumed that I didn't make it.

What was weird to me was that one woman brought with her old articles from the school newspaper to reminisce. She'd been a reporter when I was editor-in-chief. But for me the war had created a huge gulf between HS and the then-present. I avoided her--something I felt badly about later for the way I treated her, but I just wasn't into it like she was.

We reconnected just a couple years ago and I apologized.


(42,451 posts)
27. I'm 10 years younger
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 02:24 PM
Apr 2013

We had IBM typewriters (ooo, modern!) and yeah, I did punch cards in college--we were told that was one of those "jobs of the future". Flash forward to '84 when my eldest was born and Hubby was playing "Star Wars" on his Commodore 64 while waiting for the contractions to get close enough to take me to the hospital (he blew up 15 Death Stars that night, a record he never equaled again) Oh, and we only got three tv stations--out in the country, the PBS signal was too weak to reach.

I remember gas wars, where the stations kept lowering their prices. And they gave out premiums (anyone remember dinosaur shaped soap with a prize in the center?) And Dad bought a new car every two years....

Our high school lost two grads to Vietnam and we planted trees in their memory my senior year.

We'll have our 40th reunion in June.


(28,967 posts)
32. Class of 61
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 02:44 PM
Apr 2013

Thanks for the memories. "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." It's been a hell of a ride


(16,343 posts)
34. I look forward to your update!
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 02:49 PM
Apr 2013

Your transistor radio reminds me I still use my shower radio from 1984. And it works great!


(2,667 posts)
46. $10,000 a year, that was the number. If I could have earned that I'd have been set for life
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:05 PM
Apr 2013

or so I sincerely thought.


(146,530 posts)
47. Well, at the time, it was a good goal.
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:06 PM
Apr 2013

We didn't really understand that times change. Oddly enough, my Social Security payment is just a little more than that now per year. It all goes to pay health insurance for my wife, along with my Medicare supplement.


(2,514 posts)
51. born 46.... first year boomer
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:21 PM
Apr 2013

aside from the typewriters... who could forget the geek status, of the guys that those big slide rules with all those scales... your mention of the cars and the seat belts.. brought back the memory of gong through the windshield of a 57 Chevy, while it was serous enough to knock me out of school, selective service saw no problem....

grew up in southern Idaho, where became very aware of the Birchers... and now they have arrived nationally...

congrats on your life, and thanks for the memories


(133,034 posts)
52. Hi, MM. Have a great time, now and after reunion;
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:27 PM
Apr 2013

had my 50th last September (NYC suburb,) about 100 of class of 300 attended, and we're taking advantage of the big meetup by maintaining attachments. Had a mini-reunion last month, of those who've ended up in Florida.


Surya Gayatri

(15,445 posts)
53. Another member of the Class of '63 checking in...
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:35 PM
Apr 2013

Only just slipped in under the wire, having been born at the end of '45. Had to have a special derogation to start school early. Should really have been in the Class of '64.

Thanks for that thoughtful and nostalgic retrospective, Mineral Man, and enjoy your Class Reunion. I doubt I'll be able to attend mine. The 7,000 mile round trip just isn't feasible right now.


(14,887 posts)
54. I went to my
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:36 PM
Apr 2013

45th 2 years ago. My parents moved acros the country at the beginning of my junior year. So there were people, some I had known since kindergarten, I had not seen since 1965. I'm glad I went. Glad I reconnected (also through facebook). Too many lost to Vietnam though.

One of the stand out moments for me was an old classmate approachng our table and announcing 'Well, I see all the liberals found each other." We all looked @ each other & started laughing. Being in southern Indiana, we had been politely avoiding talking politics. The conversation changed immediately!

Looking forward to your report.



(63,221 posts)
55. Thanks for the stroll through history!
Sun Apr 21, 2013, 03:57 PM
Apr 2013

I enjoyed reading it! I was born when you graduated, but I have always felt like an old soul and I love hearing about times before me.

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