“T-shirts Cutoffs and a Pair of Thongs”
Reflections –July 2005
David Walechinsky wrote a book “Whatever Happened to the Class of 65?” It was published in 1975 and documented various classmate lives since graduation. He followed up with “The Class of 65, Midterm Report” published in 1985.
What really happened to the Reno and Wooster Classes of 65, the vanguard of the baby boom generation?
-Who has life been kind to?
-Where has each classmate’s life journey taken them?
-What successes and disappointments have occurred?
-Who left Reno right after high school?
-Who stayed in the comfort of Reno for all these years?
-Who stayed for a period and then left looking for adventure?
-Who left and came back?
-Who has lived life on their own terms?
-Who is no longer with us?
-How do we measure success?
It seems to me that success is relative to the individual. It also appears to be about where an individual started and how far that individual has progressed.
I guess that we will find the answer to some of these questions here at this reunion.
We entered high school over 42 years ago having spent our Freshman year as BD Bees, Vaughn Eagles, Central Panthers and Traner Vikings. A few came from the cow counties and California. Half the Billinghurst kids went on to be Wooster Colts and half to be Reno Huskies. We listened to songs on our transistor radios like “Poetry in Motion” and “The Image of a Girl”; full of romance, they put a voice to our imaginations, our dreams.
We all seemed to know everyone in both schools. Manogue was the only other high school in Reno at that time.
Our classes were perhaps not the best and brightest, but we went to high school during the best of times. Many of us lived the lives of the characters in the movie “American Graffiti.” We all knew a Kurt, Toad or John Milner. “I get around” characterized our fun activities. All the boys dragged downtown Virginia Street in pursuit of the blonde in the T-bird. I don’t remember anyone catching her. We would cruise downtown, to the Cow Palace, drive-in and then through the Frostop and then back again, all on 25 cents a gallon.
Many of us belonged to “Y Clubs”. The “clubs’ included, Barons, Cossacks, Gents, Pharaohs, Royals, Rogues, Seroyas and others.
One club was unceremoniously kicked out of the Y and letters were written to the parents identifying savage activities such as keggars at Pyramid Lake. All charges were false, of course.
Why were these the best of times?
I think that part of the answer was in the music. The potent combination of the Beatles and the British Invasion, Motown, Folk Rock, Junk Rock, Surf Music and the Beach Boys made these times more than special.
It may also have been the California culture spillover.
The Summer Jim Burgett dances up at the South shore of Lake Tahoe were fantastic! Tahoe was our Surf City. California Girls! Two girls for every boy!
The Beach Boys certainly had an impact on our young lives. All of their music had a positive thread. The evening after JFK went down on the expressway in Dallas and Camelot was destroyed by an assassin’s bullet, Brian Wilson wrote “The warmth of the sun”
Their music was what we related to-The car, the beach, the girlfriend, the boyfriend.
We had a few surfers in our classes.
However, it wasn’t all good times.
JFK was assassinated in our Jr. Year. Reno had a basketball game that night. The team from Oroville was en route on a bus, unaware of the tragedy. The game was played and Willie Molini, Reno’s student body president, lead us in silent prayer.
Our Senior year, the Wooster student body was shocked when the undefeated basketball team was ambushed in the Zone tournament by the Fallon Green Wave who put on a surprise stall for the entire game and knocked the mighty Colts from the tourney.
These were also confused times. Vietnam was escalating; the Civil rights movement was taking shape. There was burning and anger in Watts.
Symbolic of the confusion in 65 “The Eve of Destruction”, a protest song by Barry Maguire hit number one on the charts and was followed by six months later with another number one hit-“The Ballad of the Green Berets” by SSGT Barry Sadler.
We lost four from our classes to Viet Nam-Bob Andrews, Loren Berger, Jamie Clark and Bob Minetto.
I think about them every Veterans Day and have found their names on the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington DC. They will not be forgotten.
After high school we went in lots of different directions. Many of us went off to college. If high school was American Graffiti, perhaps college was Animal House.
We even had our own Bluto. Although not on the three year plan in high school, conspicuously absent from the classroom, he is now a prominent physician and land baron in Eastern Nevada.
Louie, Louie-me gotta go
Sooooooooooo-forty years later:
The little old lady from Pasadena is now the little old lady from North Galena. She is the terror of Oddie Boulevard.
Go Granny Go Granny Go Granny go!
We have all lived lots of different lives. The kids are grown, many of us have grandchildren. We are back to young people going off to war. Some of us are still deciding what we want to do.
The Rolling Stones are still touring, Dick Dale is still playing his surf guitar and Paul McCartney will be 64 next year. At 15 when he wrote “When I’m 64” did he think a half century later he would be receiving “A birthday greeting and a bottle of wine?”
But regardless of the disparate paths taken all we have to do is put on Surf City and we are right back in the endless summer of 1965 in T-shirts, cutoffs, and a pair of thongs.
El Lobo H. Grande