Memories boosting grad's anticipation of '64 class reunion

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I am on the committee for my high school class reunion. I have served on a number of these committees over the years. This year is extra special -- it's our 50th.

To quote former Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle, among others: "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

Truth be told, I come from the shallow end of the gene pool, so every morning that I wake up on the right side of the dirt is a gift. Kind of a surprise, really. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not complaining. I'm happy to be here.

So, as reunions are wont to do, this upcoming event has stirred up some memories. ("Memories," coincidentally, also was the name of our yearbook.)

This morning, I climbed into my mind's way-back machine and set the time for September 1963, the start of my senior year at Turtle Creek High School.

It was a most memorable year. In November, President Kennedy was assassinated and Camelot came to an end. In February of 1964 our country was invaded -- by the British. The Beatles took America by storm and music changed forever.

Those are memories most everyone from that era possesses. The following are "Creeker" memories:

Friday night was football night. There were bonfires, snake dances, homecoming, burgers and cherry Cokes at Anton's, pizza at Palmer's, giant fish sandwiches at the New Deal.

We truly had fun. Of course, the occasional fight broke out, but they mostly consisted of idle threats, pushing and shoving, and rarely was a punch thrown. No one ever pulled out a knife or a gun.

We went to dances at the Rental Office, The Boosters and Sunset. We listened to Bob Lavorio on the radio on Saturday mornings and Terry Lee ("Music for young lovers") at night.

We went to the "passion pit" (the drive-in-movie) on Saturday nights with just as many kids stuffed into the trunk as there were visible inside the car. (Unless we had a date!)

We shagged balls and caddied at the local golf courses to earn spending money, and when we went on a date, the guy paid.

You could buy a Skyscraper ice cream cone at Isaly's (easy to spell from an acronym: "I-Shall-Always-Love-You-Sweetheart") for a dime and a burger, fries and Coke at The Dairy DeLite for 35 cents.

We sang doo-wop on the street corner and went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

We watched Ed Sullivan and the Flintstones on TV.

We washed our cars in the "crick" and bought day-old cookies from a guy we called Moldy Tom who drove a panel truck.

We drank water from a garden hose and shared many a bottle of pop. And somehow we survived.

I am looking forward to this 50th high school reunion -- looking forward to seeing and talking to friends and classmates from half a century past. It will be a bittersweet evening, I'm sure, while both hearing about their lives and remembering those no longer with us.

Though I do wax nostalgic for a kinder, simpler time, I embrace today's technology. I love my Kindle, DVR, iPhone, laptop and Google. I have a car that's way smarter than me.

Still, I'm just biding my time waiting for the day when someone invents a real way-back machine. I promise you, I will be first in line to buy one.

Jim Topper of Turtle Creek, a retired advertising sales representative, can be reached at

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