They grew up in post-World-War-II Durango, playing catch on East Third Avenue and hollering to each other when every
once in a while a car was coming. In the summer, they gulped their suppers so they could go back out to play until
Everyone attended the home games of Durango High School and tried to make it to the away games as well. They took
their few precious 45 rpm records to share as they gathered at each others' homes while they learned to jitterbug.
They are the Durango High School Class of 1959, and they gathered in Durango for three days of reunion activities in
mid-October 50 years after graduation. At the time, it was the biggest class to graduate from DHS, and they held that
dubious honor for years.
Enthusiasm was running so high that at the organizing committee's pre-event check-all-the-details dinner on Oct. 15, which was held at Francisco's Restaurante y Cantina, 29 classmates showed up.
The class was the first to hold its graduation at Fort Lewis College, in what was then the gymnasium (now the Aqua
Center), so it seemed appropriate that they held two reunion events in the newly remodeled Ballroom at the College
Union Building. On Oct. 16, they gathered for a reception and chance to begin catching up. Teddy Wilson
Snow tells me the Ballroom was spacious and with lots of light, which gave them plenty of room to move
around and socialize as well as providing room for Kipp Schreiner to take professional class photos.
The dinner Saturday night and the farewell brunch at Kennebec Café on the Sunday of the weekend were so much fun, organizers had to shoo guests out when they had used up their allotted time.
Part of the fun was touring the old Smiley Junior High and Durango High School (now the Administration Building for
Durango School District 9-R), remembering the pranks, the activities, favorite teachers and friends.
In those days, they walked most places, and along their way to school, collected friends. Everyone knew each others'
moms and dads, and parents knew each other, too. At the reunion, a number of class members wished their children and
grandchildren could have experienced their hours of climbing and exploring Reservoir Hill (now the site of Fort Lewis
College) and the area where Crestview now stands.
One group of students had gone to school together since the first grade, attending Central Elementary School, originally built in 1892 on the site where the Mason Center now stands. Their 30-student class was the largest to
date, and Snow tells me pthe teachers must have dreaded seeing this lively, large group coming their way.
The restrooms were on the first floor and the classrooms were on the second and third floors, so there was a lot of
upping and downing. The playground, which was on the hill behind the school, featured a Merry Mix-Up, high slide and
swings, which the boys would pump as high as the top crossbar. Favorite recess games included Red Rover, jumping rope
and playing jacks and marbles.
(It sounds like a snapshot of the times, doesn't it?)
When they were in the third grade, Central was destroyed in a fire, making those elementary years even more
The class members who started school together at the age of 6 are still friends more than six decades later. At the
40th reunion, 18 members of the class attended. This year, for the 50th, 14 made it to the celebration. They were
Donna Montonati Harper, Barbara Turner Songer, Nancy Wong
Glaser, Julie McKenzie Campbell, Peggy Wilson Mills, Ida Zink
Kolb, Janet Montonati Tubbs, Dorothy Don Sparry, Merrillee
Dolan, Linda Hollar, Georgia Flood Gushue, lone male Darrell
Trembly, Sue Harrison Fisher and Snow.
Trying to find room for their birthday cakes after days of Thanksgiving feasting are Linda
Mack-Berven, Brock Ontiveros, Brad Briscoe, Julia
Jackson, Jackie Gillespie, Cece Sallee, Scott Sohlé, Vayle Townsend, Kiara Hamlin, Bob Conrad, Rhonda
Glenn, Arthur Kunkel, Emily Lavengood, John White, Vasily Galston, Larry Hock, Danny Pierceand Bev
'Tis the season for houses decorated to the nines for the holidays, and 'tis the 10th year for yours truly to scout
out what's happening on the decoration front in La Plata County.
The annual tour and rundown is scheduled to run in The Durango Herald on Dec. 19, and before then I have
about 300 miles of driving to do.
Nominate yourself, nominate your neighbor, nominate someone whose home you've admired driving by. If the house is
hard to find, I greatly appreciate directions. The name of the homeowner and a contact phone number are the cherry
and whipped cream on top, but aren't required.
Nominations are due no later than Dec. 9 - that's one week from today. Use the contact information at the end of the
column to reach me.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Enjoying an anniversary decorated with poinsettias and candles are Wilburand Bonnie
Here's how to reach me:
neighbors@durangoherald "mailto:email@example.com">.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at
the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items. If you are submitting an item for
preview, please send it with briefs in the subject line and e-mail it to "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com.