PTHS class of ’47, others revisit salad days

Posted 6/20/17

A few of these former classmates I see just every 70 years . . .

The 70th anniversary class of 1947 was no place for insurance actuaries June 10 during the annual Port Townsend High School alumni …

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PTHS class of ’47, others revisit salad days

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A few of these former classmates I see just every 70 years . . .

The 70th anniversary class of 1947 was no place for insurance actuaries June 10 during the annual Port Townsend High School alumni reunion. We seem to be surviving at a rate of three men for every woman. Out of that old graduating class of 56, there were  6 or us guys at the scene (a 7th one, Clarence Fields, lives nearby but skipped the shindig because of deafness). Death and distance have not erased us as heavily from the scene as one would expect. However, only 2 surviving women showed up. I guess all together we had the equivalence of about half an algebra class for teacher Earl Baugh.  Three members of the football team; two members of the band.

I was particularly pleased this year to see Patricia McMenamin Burns of Nordland of the class of ’37 back to observe the 80th anniversary of her graduation. I had made her acquaintance last year. She’s a great role model for aging. Jack Caldwell of the class of ’42 also was back, spry and active as ever, along with quite a number of other friends older than I, ’43 through ’46, all seated at the head table—Betty Lou (Deleo) Caldwell, Dick Gastfield, Terry Luck . . .

In my photo montage above, the guys from my class showing up were (from left) Kenneth Kidd, Cliff Brecht, Bud (Bruce) Blevins, Tom Camfield, Frank Weir and Larry (Laurence) Campbell. The two women who joined us (individual insets) were Carol (Loomis) Michelson at left and Clare (Wilson) Judge. The larger inset at lower right is Pat Burns of the 80th-anniversary class (with Tom Camfield of the 70th-anniversary class).

Family-wise, I also had my wife Jean (Westall, '50), our three children (Pam ’73, Kevin ’77 and Janice ’79) and three cousins in attendance—all PTHS grads. My daughters totally enjoyed having chosen to sit with my class of oldsters, especially the ever-humorous Laurence Campbell, who travels from California to keep the lot of us in a young mood year after year. Laurence and I also were in the school band together, he on clarinet, I on trumpet.

I tease Laurence a bit every year about his once having saved my life—although I’m deadly serious. I might well have died at 18 except for him. However, it’s a story that will not be put into print here. Ask me about it some day when you run into me.

Frank was my best friend of late high school years. He was one of the first in our class to own his own car—in which we and others of our “Kerchunk” gang shared many adventures. Cliff also had his own car, a ’36 Ford in which he’d installed a ’38 engine. Half a dozen of us piled into it for a trip to a state basketball tournament in Tacoma early in 1947. The car was totally without brakes and was slowed by shifting down. Our overnight accommodations were an open field in Snohomish County. I guess that would qualify more as an actual “adventure.” I also rode behind Cliff on his motorcycle—70 years ago. Hadn’t seen him since.

Kenny, Bud and Cliff all were on the football team, Bud and Kenny also on the basketball team. Bud’s dad Bruce coached both sports for many years.

An uncle and an aunt who were my Camfield family’s oldest graduates of the local school have passed on—Mary June (Camfield) Winchester Symonds, class of ’31, and Lyman (E. L. Jr.) Camfield, class of ‘34. As I cavort onward at 88, I’m pretty sure all of my former teachers now also are dead, but i remember each and every one—some with extreme fondness.

My favorites were Annie Jarvis (grade 1), Vivian Finnell (grade 2), Loretta Lafferty (grade 5), Jean (McLane) Marriott (grade school music), A. C. (Ace) Griffith, John Walter Clarke, Emma Pringle and my sophomore English teacher (name unknown) from high school, Mary Briggs (Lyon) for band and orchestra grades 8-12.

A nice class photo taken by Jan Boutilier likely will show up with others in a print edition of the Leader at some point. It will be without Bruce (Buddy) Blevins of my class, who had left the reunion scene early. 

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