Fifty years later, memories are still there

First Posted: 8/11/2014

Seventy members of Dallas High School Class of 1964 and their guests filled the Irem Country Club on Aug. 9, enjoying the opportunity to share their evening and their lives with fellow alumni, some of who, they had not seen for decades.

Lee Philo travelled from Anchorage, Alaska to join his fellow classmates in celebrating their 50th anniversary reunion. He had not seen most of his fellow alumni since the 10th anniversary – 40 years ago.

“This has been wonderful and amazing,” said Philo, “I especially enjoyed Friday night’s ‘ice breaker’ held at the Checkerboard Inn.

Many attendees joined Philo in lauding the reunion committee which had arranged the weekend, including Friday’s ice breaker and a tour of their alma mater on Saturday morning, with superintendent Frank Galicki serving as tour guide.

“Mr. Galicki was astounded and delighted so many members of our class returned and gathered for the reunion,” said Roger Griffith, alumni and emcee of the event.

Alumni Tess Cushner and husband Bill Hunt were impressed both with the quality of the high school and the willingness of the superintendent to take time to share a bit about both its history and future plans.

Griffith, addressing members of his class, said he was taken with the diversity of vocations chosen by his classmates, and also their commitment to public service.

“Despite busy lives and family responsibilities,” said Griffith, “many alumni have continued to volunteer their time and energy to worthy causes, even into their retirement.”

Griffith also noted historical changes which have influenced the Back Mountain, leading attendees through a presentation which looked back on Hurricane Agnes of 1972, which resulted in an influx of residents to the Back Mountain area.

He noted the construction of the Cross Valley Expressway which made Dallas more accessible to residents throughout the Wyoming Valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Members of the class shared other historical realities which deepened their bond as a class. Autumn of their senior year brought the assassination of President Kennedy and the subsequent administration of President Johnson.

The year also brought a deepening involvement of the country in the Vietnam conflict. Of those attending, 34 were U.S. military veterans, with 13 having served in Vietnam.

On a lighter note, attendees remember listening to the music of the Beatles, often to the dismay of their parents.

Alumni Frank Wada and Pat Gorda Wada looked back on a more personal history, as one of four couples of the class who later married and raised families.

“We didn’t date in high school,” said a smiling Pat Wada “He asked me to dance once and I turned him down.”

After graduation, the couple dated and then married. They are looking forward celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary on Aug. 27. The couple has three children and five grandchildren.

Robert and Charlyn Allen also met in high school and began dating shortly after graduation. The couple’s wedding reception was held at the Irem Country Club, making the reunion especially meaningful to them. The Allens have two children and four grandchildren.

“This reunion has been my favorite,” said Charlyn Allen. “It seems it’s been a time to simply relax, enjoy old friends and have a great deal of fun.”

Richard Gumbravich was especially excited to gather with members of the original ‘Star Fires,’ a band he organized with Griffith during junior high school. Several other members of the band were among reunion attendees, with many taking time to view a display depicting the band much younger, with slick hairdos, but with the same enthusiasm for music and performing.

As emcee, Griffith lauded those who had travelled the farthest to join their classmates for the celebration: Philo from Alaska and June Hayes from California. He also lauded class member Larry Campbell and wife Gloria for having 13 grandchildren and one great -randchild, holding the class record.

Amidst blue and white balloons, the class colors, with opportunity to share a wonderful meal in a beautiful setting, the class of 1964 seemed to come together seamlessly, as members made their way from table to table, always with a smile and a laugh, sometimes with a hug or a tear.

Reflecting on the success of the event and the almost magical spirit of the evening, committee member Carl Kaschenbach, said the committee had worked tirelessly for over 18 months to organize the event.

“Its our 50th reunion,” said Kaschenbach. “We had only one chance to get it right.”

By all accounts of attendees of the reunion, it was perfect.

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