Fifty years later, Class of 1960 still going strong

Posted June 29, 2010, at 2:01 p.m.

Scores of people my age, who entered kindergarten in the fall of 1947 and graduated from high school in the spring of 1960, are celebrating our 50th class reunion.

If you are questioning whether to attend that milestone event, I’m here to encourage you to do so.

It really is worth it, especially if you come from a small, rural Maine town and nearly everyone you started school with walked down the aisle with you on graduation day.

I am a proud member of Paris High School Class of 1960, who gathered on Father’s Day to celebrate our 50th reunion in South Paris.

And while we share the fate of so many of our era by no longer having a high school to return to, we do have each other.

PHS ceased to exist in 1961, joining with Norway High School to form Maine School Administrative District 17, now known as Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and educating students from Oxford, West Paris, Waterford, Hebron, Harrison and Otisfield.

And while our number varied slightly from kindergarten to graduation, we have lost only five classmates.

Of the 61 remaining for whom organizers have addresses, they heard from 44, and most of us attended either this event or the general alumni gathering the evening before.

Perhaps what made this particular reunion special for me is that we so easily recognized each other because, quite frankly, we’re doing pretty well, thank you very much.

As we greeted one another with hugs and handshakes, I was pleased to note we look pretty much the same as we did 50 years ago.

A little older and a few more wrinkles, sure, but we are as emotionally positive and physically engaged as we were when we were young. Taking stock of PHS ’60 from a pure eyeball perspective, we’re in pretty darned good shape, even if the women are blonder and the men are balder. Take this class and love it! We have not let ourselves go to pot!

Growing up in the western Maine mountains, our out-of-school time was spent skiing, skating, golfing, climbing, running, cycling, swimming, playing ball, fishing, hunting and working hard, inside and out.

And, guess what? We’re still at it!

There is something to be said for an active youth leading to a longer, more healthful life. PHS ’60 proves it.

But we recognize, too, how fortunate we were to grow up in (forgive me for going here) what is now viewed as the “Happy Days” generation.

We understand what a very special time the 1950s were in the history of our country.

We had fun. We worked and played hard. We knew we were loved. We were free. We felt protected. We believed we could do anything we set our minds to. We had dreams that could come true.

We made positive career choices and entered the fields of medicine, education, religion, business and even professional sports and the media. We chose to become homemakers; to serve our country; to serve our communities.

And, as the years passed and life began to change, very dramatically, we became survivors.

The fifties did not spoil us. The fifties made us tough.

With our loved ones, we have made it through all the challenges life has thrown at us: Unexpected death, divorce, disease, disability, drugs and even domestic abuse.

Whatever difficulties we faced, we overcame them and landed on our feet with our heads held high and our souls intact.

We are living our old class motto: A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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