RMHS 50-year Reunion Gathers Nearly 100 Alums
Attendees to the three day event promised to keep in touch.
With the theme "Our First 50 Years," members of the Reading Memorial High School graduating class of 1960 celebrated this month with a host of activities aimed at renewing old acquaintances with classmates, some of who had not seen each other since graduation half a century ago.
The reunion capped more than a year of planning by a committee of eight that included coordinators Dorothy Blanchard Brown and her husband Fred, who were determined to make our golden anniversary most memorable.
Ninety-nine members of the class and their guests attended Friday, Sept. 17 for a casual mixer at the Holiday Inn Select in Woburn. Kathy Beckert Desjardins provided nametags with the name each alum used in high school printed in large font along with a yearbook photo from 1960 so that youthful faces could help bridge the gap to the mature wrinkles of today.
The hotel was decorated with a Red Sox theme and featured ballpark fare of hotdogs, wings, and popcorn; class members joined in the fun by wearing baseball apparel. The most distinctive paraphernalia belonged to classmate Alan Fowler, who came wrapped with bandages marked with the names of Red Sox players whose injuries soured the team's season.
On Saturday afternoon, approximately seventy-five attendees were greeted at Reading's new high school by Cliff Ash, co-captain of our senior football team and member of many reunion committees over the decades. Assistant Principal Michael Scarpitto led the group through the school, showing off the great features available today. Of special interest was a demonstration of the teaching materials used in the high-tech classrooms where chemistry teacher Noreen Scarpitto showed how computers, the internet and smart boards have dramatically changed classroom presentations.
The dinner dance on Saturday night saw the class dressed in their finery for a seated dinner.
Arthur Venditti, whose earlier contributions to the class included designing the cover for the 1960 yearbook ,created table decorations featuring an artistic portrayal of Adventure Car Hop in Saugus,a well-known teenagers' hangout during the 1950s.
Dinner was announced by an old Reading cheer led by former cheerleader Nancy Saylor Kimball.
A video presentation, called "The Way We Were," followed dessert. Bob Petrucci prepared the video from photographs submitted by class members as well as from the town Historical Commission and Reading Library collections. Petrucci, who had been a photographer for the yearbook and school newspaper, knit together a story of the class' school years from kindergarten to graduation, hitting themes familiar to everyone and deftly integrated by fifties rock and roll.
Our own Ken Burns produced a well-received evocative memoir of our years together at Reading High. As part of the photography project, Craig Brandt prepared another collection of photographs from pre-high school years and invited everyone to guess who the subjects of the pictures were. Classmate Marilyn Lake Price, a professional artist, contributed to the ballroom ambience with her renditions of period hot rods and a life-sized jukebox.
The evening ended with dancing to tunes from a playlist developed by R&R enthusiast John Mackenzie that also included favorites requested by classmates. The sounds of the oldies added an aural link to the past to the memory-filled evening as well as provided an opportunity to show that some of the dance moves demonstrated at St. Agnes record hops had not deteriorated over the years.
At a Sunday morning breakfast, sixty-one of the attendees wrapped up the nostalgia-filled weekend and said goodbye, vowing to stay in touch and hoping to gather again in 2020, if not sooner.