Ponoka School class of 1958 will share the memories

Some of us will fondly remember 1958 as the rock and roll revolution; our dreams of owning a red Ford ragtop with white wall tires-Hollywood mufflers and fender skirts; 25 cent movie matinees and popcorn for a dime; a brand new high school for Ponoka and two more months of glorious summer holidays just around the corner.

The Ponoka Composite High School Grade 12 class of l958 are featured here. Shown in the back row from left to right: Arthur Froman

The Ponoka Composite High School Grade 12 class of l958 are featured here. Shown in the back row from left to right: Arthur Froman

By Mike Rainone

For the News

Some of us will fondly remember 1958 as the rock and roll revolution; our dreams of owning a red Ford ragtop with white wall tires-Hollywood mufflers and fender skirts; 25 cent movie matinees and popcorn for a dime; a brand new high school for Ponoka and two more months of glorious summer holidays just around the corner.

For 43 rambunctious students of the Ponoka Composite High School May 23, 1958 was their gala graduation day and the first Grade 12 class to be honoured at the fancy new education facility that was located just across the street from the even more popular A & W drive in along 48th Avenue. Their colourful graduation ceremony was held in the new gymnasium, followed by a banquet and dance at the Ponoka United Church, all on the same evening. After the traditional presentation of the grand entry and presentation of diplomas, the proud students, teachers, parents and guests would toast each other with a sip of bubbly champagne. There weren’t too many limos or tuxedos in those days, but everyone was dressed up real nice and the all night celebration party was likely held later at Gull Lake or at a classmate’s farm.

This fall on October 3, 2008 members of the Ponoka Composite High School class of 1958 and their spouses are invited to get together once again and share all of those great memories during an exciting 50 year reunion at the Ponoka Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. While in town they will likely get the opportunity to visit those hallowed halls of learning where they enjoyed their high school adventure and while it is now the Diamond Willow Middle School and the PCHS moved to the present location in 1967, not that much has really changed.

How great was High School in 1958?

Some of the teachers of the 1950s high school eras included: principal Howard Larson, Atha Topley, Tom Dick, Jennie Riddell, Lillian McPhie, Miss Mieklejohn, Mr. Skaret, Mrs. Cline and on and on. In those days graduation was always still a regular school day, but the girls were allowed to wear curlers all day, then at the 3:30 p.m. bell everyone dashed home, did their chores and got ready for one of the biggest nights of their young lives. There were no flat caps then and the girls were required to inform the school in advance as to what colour their grad dress would be so that the appropriate corsages could be ordered for the occasion.

The busy high school curriculum in the fifties was geared for students to achieve a high school diploma or Senior Matriculation over three, sometimes four years. Subjects included math, social studies, chemistry, physics, English, literature and biology. Options available along the way were: typing, physical education, shop, food/nutrition and health and the French language club. Always a long-standing tradition at the Ponoka Composite was the Glee Club, Drama Club and bands; as well as the exciting Broncs and Aces sports of football, basketball, track and field, volleyball, badminton and others. Everyone at school would either be a participant or an avid spectator and the sassy cheer squad was always front and centre, complete with their white pom-poms, knee length skirts and bobby socks.

It was really great to chat with three of those 1958 grads last week; Marion (Jones) Raugust, Hazel (Eastwood) Rust and Joan (Trainor) Staldecker; who were very excited about helping to organize the fall reunion. When I casually asked them about some of their favourite memories of those fabulous ‘bubble gum, rockin’ and rollin’ high school daze’, here is what they told me.

*Most students hung out in their groups, but everyone usually tried to get along and the only hooky played was sneaking out at noon to hang out at the local pool hall, to grab a giant 15 cent coconut bun at the Silver Bakery, or for a cool dip in the mighty Battle on a hot summer day.

*Everyone had fun in school, but they were taught to mind their Ps and Qs, good morals and great respect for adults and the educational opportunity at hand. The drinking age was 21, and some of those classmates would have started a family before they could get into the segregated local taverns.

*It was really tough for the Grade 11 students at Mecca Glen and Crestomere Schools, who had to come into the PCHS for one semester and try to mix in with the ‘in’ crowd. If you weren’t on the Ponoka school bus line you had to find your own way in or board in town.

*The boys usually had the popular ‘duck’s butt’ hairdos with lots of grease, while the gals wore ponytails. The clothing craze of the roaring fun days would feature: poodle and reversible plaid skirts, chink and zoot-zooter pants, leather jackets with studs, white bucks, galoshes, rolled up blue jeans and who knows what other fad might come along?

*Dancing fancies in the fab-fifties were the big bands, twist, jive and occasionally cheek to cheek, but not too naughty! The musical heartthrobs were the likes of the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Silhouettes, Bobby Darren, Frankie Avalon, Laurie London, Paul Anka, the Andrew Sisters, Johnnie Ray, Jim Reeves, Patti Page, Pat Boone and on and on!

*Dating was allowed, although quite often was in hangout groups, Dutch treat to the show or dance, sock hops and house parties, with supervision. Most of the gang were on the same party line, especially in the country, so there was lots of rubbernecking on the phone and not too many deep secrets were revealed in those chitchats.

Whatever the case, it was a great era, both in school and around the community and districts. Those members of the Ponoka Composite High School Class of 1958 wishing to register or get information about their October reunion are urged to get in touch with Marion Raugust (403-783-2202), Hazel Rust (403-783-5197), or Joan Staldeker (403-783-4270). It should be a real blast!