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Pamy's Place: Back In 1966

Pamy Blaine attends her 40th high school class re-union - and is prompted to recall the world as it was in '66.

The class of 1966 have just had their 40th reunion. I was one of the 106 students who graduated that year from Knox County High School.

Every few years, most of us have a high school class reunion. Later, we read in the newspaper something like this:

“The Class of 1966 held their 40th reunion on September 9, 2006, at the Edina Country Club. There were 42 classmates, two teachers, and a total of 71 people present. A catered dinner was served, pictures were taken, and a good time was had by all.”

Although that is what took place, it just seems like so little to say about so very much. Yet, how do you describe an event where you get to see the classmates that you grew up with and haven’t seen for years? How do you cram in a visit with each of them in about three hours?

Our reunion began by riding together on “The Class of 1966” float in the Knox County Corn fest parade. Yes, nineteen of us arrived to ride the float that was pulled by Vance Parrish. (Well, he did use a tractor.) There were joyful greetings, lots of hugs, joking, and “Hey, Richard, where did you get that big red sombrero?”

As we gathered beside the float, someone mentioned that Miss Greenley, our high school principal, lived close by and was sitting in her yard to watch the parade. We took the opportunity to go and visit with her for a moment. Since some of us hadn’t seen her since graduation, we introduced ourselves just in case there was the remote possibility that any of us might have changed in the last forty years. We laughed and had a good time sharing with her some of our memories of high school. Miss Greenley was a good principal and she didn’t miss much as we recalled how we tried but never could seem to get by with anything. (I can’t help but wonder if she is reading this and checking my punctuation.)

Later that evening we all gathered at the Edina Country Club.

We were so happy that two of our teachers, Mrs. Parrish, (Business Education) and Mr. Roberts, (basketball coach) joined us for the evening.

During the program, we were asked to answer some trivia questions about our graduation year. Later, as I thought about 1966, I thought it might best be expressed by what Charles Dickens said in A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.''

When the Class of 1966 was graduating from high school:

* Lyndon B. Johnson was president.

* The average income per year was $6,900.

* A new car would cost around $2,650.

* A postage stamp was five cents.

* The fashion magazines paraded their mini skirts, bell-bottoms, and even paper dresses.

* The average life expectancy was 70.2 years.

* A partial artificial heart was first implanted in a patient.

* Medicare came into existence.

* Congress passed a law that cigarette packages had to carry the warning: “CAUTION, cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.”

* The Academy award for best picture went to The Sound of Music.

* The movie, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly came out and seemed to describe the times in which we lived. There were race riots in the cities, the Viet Nam War was raging, and we were all anxious as our young men were being drafted into what later would be known as America’s longest war. However, when you are just eighteen and graduating from high school, only ”the good” part of that title seemed relevant to us as we crossed the stage and received our diplomas. We were ready to set out on our own, searching for the great American dream.

* As for television, it was the year that Batman and Star Trek made their appearance and it was also the year that The Grinch Stole Christmas. And he's still trying.

* Popular singers were, The Beatles, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Petula Clark, Simon and Garfunkel, and Frank Sinatra.

* The music that year had such conflicting titles that we could form a crazy phrase with them: Monday, Monday, We Can Work It Out, Wild Thing, Somewhere My Love, Cherish, The Sound of Silence.

* SSgt Barry Sadler helped write the hit song The Ballad of The Green Berets, while recuperating from a leg wound suffered during the war in Viet Nam.

* Martina McBride was born and Walt Disney died.

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since the class of 1966 graduated from high school. After forty years, the conversation seemed a little different than at earlier reunions. We heard news of some of our classmates that could not attend the reunion due to health problems and we missed their presence. We found that some of our classmates had been through a lot in the past few years. There had been difficulties, heart attacks, cancer surgeries, and the loss of loved ones. Yet, those classmates were there to share their survival stories with us.

I couldn’t help but think about what a blessing it is to enjoy the company of my classmates when I remember that my father-in-law, who is 89 years old, is the only one left in his graduating class.

Our class will always remember 1966 as the year that ended our high school days but it was also the year of new beginnings as we began our climb toward our goals. Our climb was never meant to necessarily lead us to fortune and fame. Hopefully, we climb so that we can see better than we have ever seen before. We climb to a place where we can view what is really true and valuable. We climb looking forward and upward. We climb looking with the eyes of our hearts toward that broader view that we once set as our motto back in 1966.

“The higher we climb, the broader the view”
(1966 KCHS Class motto)

Somewhere a hill
Blossoms in green and gold
And there are dreams
All that your heart can hold -
(Somewhere, My Love
From the Movie Doctor Zhivago)

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