It seems like a high school kid is trapped in every aging baby boomer body at the table – rebellious, self-indulged, gossipy, with a giggly interest in the opposite sex. Yep. It’s a planning committee for the 50th reunion of the Lewis and Clark High School class of 1964 and nothing gets them revved up more than reminiscing about the “good ol’ days” for a willing audience.
“We were raised in the days of innocence,” said Gloria Warrick Spear (née Nauditt), who is the head planner of the three-day reunion Sept. 5-7. She has the gavel to prove it and the glare to shush the rowdy guys in the group as she reads off a checklist of how it was in the early 1960s in Spokane.
“Yeah, every guy I knew was a horny…” groused classmate Pat Ireland, a jock. None of the “greasers” or “thugs” are on the 33-member planning committee, but there is Molly McLellan Bennion, the 1964 Lilac Queen.
Warrick Spear pounded the gavel, continuing with her list of 1960s high school bliss: no shootings, no bullies, no drugs.
The guys chimed in about Friday night fights; making out at “suicide,” a spot off Cliff Drive; and plenty of beer and cigarettes. Later she admitted with a laugh about the guys’ outbursts and teasing: “The personalities are the same. Really not a lot has changed.”
Her list praised sports, academics and school spirit (the only color photograph in the yearbook is of the cheerleading squad). One gal whispered on the sly that black athletes didn’t get to play often. The guys joked about their grades. Nobody disputed the spirit. That same school spirit that is just as strong and bright as five decades ago when more moms stayed home and cars were the big deal with everyone cruising Riverside Avenue on Saturday nights after the weekend dances.
Just ask any of them, Lewis and Clark High School Class of 1964 is the best. It was the largest in the state – with 727 students, of which 699 graduated. It included the Lilac queen, and most of them grew up to have successful careers and families. With most class members born in 1946, the graduates of 1964 – all across America, not just at Lewis and Clark – are the first baby boomers to celebrate their 50th reunions.
“We don’t feel old,” Warrick Spear said, noting with a wink that maybe they don’t party as much as they used to. “We don’t know how we got here so quickly.”
The committee has been meeting for two years in preparation for the big bash, enlisting the help of a classmate who is a retired private investigator with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to track down all but about 64 of the classmates. Of the large class, 101 people have died, including one Vietnam War casualty. So far, 250 classmates have registered for the reunion. Members have until Aug. 15 to register for the Sept. 6 banquet.
The Saturday night banquet and dance will be the highlight of the reunion. They’ll be at the Davenport Hotel – the same romantic venue where the class had its senior prom. Dances were a large part of the 1960s high school experiences, with near weekly gatherings. Of course, rock ’n’ roll was everything and it’s been a main topic of discussion with the planning committee. One of the favorites: The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.” Several of the members of the planning committee saw The Beatles during their 1964 tour stop in Seattle. Other favorites include the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone and Neil Diamond.
“Education was important but being social was very huge,” Warrick Spear said. “It was all about who you had a date with. And we had dances every weekend.”
Earlier on Saturday, the class can tour the 1911 high school, which underwent a massive three-year remodel that was completed in 2001, and attend a memorial tribute for deceased classmates.
Friday evening is dedicated to 14 individual grade school parties, because many of the classmates attended elementary school together. The attendance boundary for Lewis and Clark was large, including everything south of Interstate 90 into the farm land of Moran Prairie south of 57th. The west boundary went to Airway Heights.
Sunday is the “seniors” picnic at Manito Park, the same place the senior class picnic was held in the spring of 1964.
Besides school, the greatest memory of the class is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It’s a collective and defining memory for the early baby boomers, who often describe the November 1963 day as a “loss of innocence.”
“We were all called to the auditorium,” said Dan Baggarley. “It was devastating.”
Many members of the committee have attended previous class reunions. The class is hoping to attract many people who haven’t been “home” in years and want people to focus on the fun.
On the reunion website, Bennion, puts it into perspective.
“We’re all so pleased to be together, regardless of our life experiences,” she wrote about her experience on the planning committee. “All the competitive puffing and positioning which might have peppered early reunions are gone. Put aside any doubts you may have about coming to be with us; people will ‘smile and say hello.’ You’ll have a wonderful time. And we’ll have more fun because you’re there.”
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