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Longmeadow High School, 51 Years Later…

Nancy Shoemaker, Bill McIntyre, Sharon Black Wherry, Bill Squires, Marcia Hennick Strange, Bob Basdekis, Mark Vecchiarelli, and Susan Guertin Devick. Missing from the photo is Mary Jane Dyson Disco.

What a difference a half century makes. Come with us back to the 1960s. The Beatles were just coming to America, Chubby Checker was doing The Twist, Motown was making it’s voice heard, Bob Dylan was “Blowing in the Wind” and mom and pop stores were scattered throughout our town, Longmeadow, Massachusetts. The Community Market was where the Berkshire Bank now is, Winnie’s gas station was where CVS and Rinaldi’s is. Our beloved Friendly’s across the street from St. Mary’s is now home to Fred Astaire Dance Studio World Headquarters!

We were a class of 252. Imagine 52 of us returning 51 years later. Converse Street School is senior housing. Center School is now connected to what used to be the junior high. Norway Street School is now Willie Ross School for the Deaf and Greenwood Park has a senior center.

Our high school is totally transformed and almost too big for us “oldies” to walk around. The physical identity of Longmeadow has changed to be sure, but what the members of the Class of ‘67 found out earlier this month when we returned for their 51st (we couldn’t get it together for our 50th) reunion was we could still identify each other. Yes, we were balding and grey, or not, we were heavier or thinner, or not, but we knew each other, by our smiles, our eyes, our laughs.

The Longmeadow High School Class of 1967 gathered on the weekend of April 13-15 to reconnect and re-establish ourselves as an older and wiser unit of our younger selves.

We reminisced about our high school days, often surprised to learn how hard it had been to be a teenager. We were the kids who experienced the civil rights movement, the assassinations of our dearly loved president, and of Martin Luther King. Jr, Woodstock, The Peace Corps, Vietnam and the shootings at Kent State. Our paths were shaped by these events. Who would have thought that one of our classmates, Bill McIntyre, would end up working at Kent State? Or that another, Nancy Dale would join the Peace Corps? This weekend, we shared our stories, we grieved over the 14 classmates who had already passed, but mostly, we laughed and hugged and rejoiced with each other.

Our events were well planned and well attended. We are most grateful to Kayla Werlin, LHS choral teacher, who invited us to attend a Lyrics rehearsal and sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” once more, to Susan Bertrand of the Superintendent’s office who gave us a tour of the new High School.

Wendy Pearson, who gave tours of the newer and better Storrs Library, and Betsy McKee, Melissa Cybulski and Andrea Taupier who guided us through the Storrs Historical Museum, were most gracious with their time and energy. Those who were still standing enjoyed a walk through Fannie Stebbins Wildlife Refuge.

Several local classmates opened their homes for get togethers. Mary Jane Dyson Disco’s daughters, Amy and Corrin Schulze opened their home for their mom’s music friends and others to enjoy a brunch and gathering place. They didn’t stop talking or singing for three hours.

Sharon Nuger Levy and her husband Mark, held an open house on Sunday morning for all to experience their wonderful sculpture collection and garden.

This too included a spread fit for royalty.

Friday night pizza at Red Rose, in downtown Springfield, was a walk down memory lane for us and Saturday dinner at Twin Hills was another delightful feast and gathering place. With the help of Amy Schulze, a video was made taking us from First Grade to today.

It was a weekend to remember and beyond our wildest dreams. We came from near and far: the Netherlands, Austria, California, Arizona, Nebraska, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Vermont and Longmeadow to name a few. We set the bar for our next reunion. We’ve decided not to wait so long for our next reunion and hope to meet again in five years.

 

– Article and photos courtesy of Mary Jane Discom