You blink and a half century goes by. Although I won't be able to share in the fun at the 50-year reunion for the Class of 1966, I can still reflect on what has changed in the five decades that have departed since a stranger spoke to us on Graduation Night and our first-year principal mispronounced our names to the extent that we had to nudge some of our fellow graduates and whisper "He means you!".
Our graduation ceremonies were a sort of comic relief after a year of being a target of the new administration: "Crack down on the Seniors" I once heard our new principal say. The freshmen apparently got a pass and a few years later I observed one of them exiting the high school wearing a Nazi arm band on his denim jacket.
The RHS restrooms were always well-kept and spotless. That is, until someone made dozens of black marks with the heel of his boot in the boys' restroom during the 1965-66 school year. Our principal, Harland Larson, called an urgent meeting of all 200 of us boys. After we had assembled in the cafeteria, Mr. Larson demanded that the vandal identify himself. It was the first I had heard of it and I joined my peers in looking around to see if anyone appeared guilty. No one blinked an eyelash.
Mr. Larson then declared that until the responsible party was identified, all boys' restroom privileges would be withheld, with the exception of the two minutes that we had each hour to change classrooms. In the days that followed, on a few occasions during a study hall I went to the office and asked Donna Wurgler or one of the other staff if I could have permission to go to the bathroom. "Of course you can," would be their embarrassed answer. Meanwhile, I checked with my network of informants and eventually discovered that the miscreant was a freshman and I duly reported him to Mr. Larson, who restored our bathroom benefit. We boys were, um, relieved.
In the fifty years that followed, here are just a few of the many differences between the Classes of 1966 and 2016 (in no particular order of importance).
Dollar stores were called dime stores and coffee was a dime. Phone calls were a nickel. Gas was 35 cents a gallon (high-test), someone pumped it for you, washed your windshield, checked your oil and offered you a set of dishes. (I hear that Harper Oil still does that, except for the dishes). Pay phones were everywhere and there were plenty of telephone booths for Clark Kent to choose from. Title IX, giving girls equal time on the playing field/court/track was still six years away. The military draft and Vietnam was potentially in the future for many of us. There were no national motel chains, as such, so we used AAA-recommended "motor courts". Our Bibles still used the term "Mankind". We were three years away from "One small step for a person, one giant leap for humankind". Women were women, men were men and we all loved it. My brand new 1966 2-dooor Chevy hardtop now qualifies for an "antique" license plate here in Florida. If you carried a telephone on your person, it was probably being taken to be repaired. We had yet to use speech patterns such as, "I'm like...", "reach out", "moving forward", "at that point in time", or "and I go..." We never thought that we'd have Dick Nixon to kick around again or that a president who was reelected in a 49-state landslide in 1972 would resign less than two years later. Hijacked airplanes were diverted to Cuba and not into buildings. No one had ever heard the term "student loan". We had two channels of over-the-air TV and a lone 250-watt AM radio station that signed off the air at 10:20 p.m. (8:10 on Sundays). Farms were smaller and a combine cost $17,000, plus tax and tip. There was no Urban Dictionary, no Millennials, Gen-Xers or Tweeners. Bison and Fighting Sioux sweaters had to be special-ordered at Jacobson's. We had never heard of O.J. Simpson and there were no exceptional athletes named Gronvold at RHS.
Class of 1966:
Jackie Amon, Sheila A. Axtman, Sheila R. Axtman, Wayne Axtman, Bill Bednarz, Loretta Bischoff, Jackie Bolinske, Fred Bonn, Paulette Brossart, Susan Brynteson, Linda Busch, Sheila Busch, Greg Carlile, Clint Carlson (salutatorian), Paula Christenson, Richard Cooper, Jane Duchscher, Steve Duchscher, Larry Eisenzimmer, Sharon Fettig, Karene Filler, Connie Fjellanger (valedictorian), Delby Hager, Steve Hanson, Larry Heilman, Ronald Heilman, Carol Hoffert, Frank Hoffart, Don Gaetz, Jerry Giesinger, Ray Giesinger, Bill Gronvold, Loretta Isaacson, Dan Jacobson, Karen Johnson, Peggy Jordan, Daryl Jelsing, Carol Kirchofner, Kent Kjelstrom, Francis Kring, Sandra Miller, Tom Lavik, Dave Lesmeister, Malcolm McKerrall, David Mears, John Mitchell, Dale Nelson, Van Nelson, Karen Odden, Connie Olson, Richard Olson, Harley Opstedal, Eunice Orth, Bibiana Ponce de Leon (foreign exchange student from Argentina), Dan Peterson, Janice Richter, Judy Rhine, Carol Sattler, Dick Sawaya, Mary Ann Schaan, David Schall, Wendelin Schell, Margaret Schneider, Marty Schmidt, Marian Schumacker, Cleo Senger, Linda Shjerve, Diane Stempson, Tom Teigen, Tom Thingvold, Judy Thompson, Christie Tillman, Sharon Torgerson, Louise Van Sweringen, Larry Volk, Sharon Waite, Jackie Wangler, Gary Wurgler, Judy Zacher, Dennis Ziegler, Joe Ziegler.