Curtis Dahlgren
50 YEARS; a semi-serious account of a "Happy Days" class reunion
By Curtis Dahlgren
September 17, 2010

"I have found a great hunger in America for a spiritual revival; for a belief that law must be based on a Higher Law; for a return to traditions and values that we once had." — President Reagan

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU'RE CATCHING FLIES. It seems like only yesterday. We were small-town hicks clinging unbitterly to guns and religion. Personally I've gone from helping make maple syrup in the woods at age 4, back to the woods (of the U.P.) nearly 65 years later.

Just got back here from a 50-year high school class reunion. Unfortunately it was ours — the class of 1960! I'm so old that my parents were born before the Wright brothers got their first plane out of the shop, but anyway, 55 of about 100 living classmates from around the country gathered on the eve of 9-11 for the ultimate Friday night fish fry.

A great time was had by all, even though I'm still a bit tongue-tied around those beautiful girls (my class had so many gorgeous ones you wouldn't believe it possible). During the party, I followed some advice from a recent column: "Look wise, say nothing, and grunt" so as to avoid saying something stupid. I partially succeeded.

Early in the evening, I shook hands with a classmate who was on the reunion committee, and his wife; then I looked at the lady standing next to them and said, "Is this your daughter?" Just then I realized that she was one of our former cheerleaders. She probably liked the comment, but I may have insulted the wife of the classmate who was standing right there.

I thought about saying to some of the ladies, "You look better than you used to" (meaning "even better than you used to"), but I managed to refrain.

But the evening was a trip — a trip back to the days of Fonzi Fonzerella (only the rural version). Our class didn't have jocks, nerds, or hoods. I don't think I heard those terms until years later, so we didn't have jocks vs. nerds vs. the cool non-jocks (that's a good thing because I was both a nerd and a jock).

When I started 9th grade, I was 4'11" tall, but I still played touch football with the seniors during lunch hour. I was 5 feet in 10th grade, and 5'1" as a junior, when I started playing hardball in a summer league (a men's league). I played second base, shortstop, and third base. I was 5'3" when I graduated and 5'4" at age 19, 5'5 at 20, 5'6" at 21, and 5'7" at age 22. I was afraid I was going to be 6 feet tall by age 30, but my growth spurt stopped when I hit puberty about 10 years behind schedule! Someone who should know said that I could thus live a long time. I should have taken better care of myself, as they say.

Speaking of third basemen, they are noted for quick reactions, but also for being a bit klutzy. Someone once had lunch with Graig Nettles, the Gold Glove third baseman, and he dropped his fork on the floor three times. I managed to not over a glass of water at the reunion — because they didn't give me one — but I just knocked over half a cup of coffee writing this column.

Speaking of our girls, though, none of which I ever dated, our male-to-female ratio is beginning to tip in my favor, so maybe I'll still get to date one some day (they say that the men die first because they want to).

Seriously though, the JHS class of 1960 still clings to its guns and religion. The dinner opened with a prayer read aloud "in Christ's name." It was mostly a thank you, thank you, thank you type of prayer, heartfelt, followed by a hearty "Amen" in unison. If there were any atheists in our class, we never noticed.

By the way, I had a dream a week or so before the reunion — a dream about talking to one of our deceased classmates, and I asked her if she was going to be at the reunion and she said "Yes!" Maybe Kathy and some of the others were there in spirit with us. In my religion, we believe that the dead are still asleep, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they can't dream while sleeping, eh? Kathy and I, just perhaps, were in the same dream.

My class has a list of 22 "deceased" members, although there is a dispute about one name on the list. There are reports that he's still alive somewhere, and I was thinking it would be cool if he'd pulled a Tom Sawyer and walked in the door saying, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

The 22 names are listed alphabetically, but the first one on the list was also the first to go, in Vietnam. I used to sit across the aisle from him in study hall. It'd be cool to see him walk in the room, too ("the family circle won't be broken, by and by").

Anyway, one of the unspoken things the class of '60 is thankful for is that we haven't had to live through WWIII yet. Many of us almost expected to during earlier times. In those days, when we visited the Big City, such as Milwaukee, we'd see "Evacuation Route" signs along the main roads leading out of town, not to mention "Fallout Shelter" signs. In grade school, we were taught to hide under our desks in case of nuclear attack. I always wondered how much good that would do! But then again, I always did think too much.


Lots of laughs were laughed at the class reunion, but I sensed an imperceptible cloud over us also. The subject of politics never came up, but, truth be told, the President is young enough to be one of our grandsons. Maybe that's part of the problem. My advice to him is "Stop knocking the people who still cling to their religion; maybe that's the only thing that's saving us — still!"

Lefty career politicos and the incestuous media never (if ever) use the word Freedom or the word Liberty. They talk about "shared ideas," but 2/3 to three-fourths of the American people DON'T SHARE those "ideas" that the President espouses.

My advice to him is, "Be careful how you talk, because you own grandmother may be watching you in spirit from that great Family Circle in the sky!"

P.S. In news-of-the-week, another RINO bit the dust in Delaware. Now it's up to the citizens of that state to pick the next holder of the Senate seat once held by Joe-the-White House-plumber. No predictions, but I think Karl Rove is going to have to wash his mouth out with soap.

The Tea "Party" is beginning to look like a year-long Festival. We are tired of the Left calling our grandmothers "right-wing extremists"!! Well, as the Gipper used to say:

  • "You can't be for big government, big taxes, and big burocracy and still be for the little guy."

  • "There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what is morally right."

  • "Some may try and tell us that this is the end of an era. But what they overlook is that in America every day is a new beginning."

  • "I've always believed that we are, each of us, put here for a reason, that there is a . . divine plan for all of us."

  • "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We can preserve for our children this, the last best hope on earth, or we can sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness."


© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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