Among the greatest gifts and cherished memories of our lives have come from spending many enjoyable years together and staying in touch with family, friends, team-mates, and the former class-mates of our unforgettable ‘school days’, no matter how far it may have been back in our past.
The Ponoka Red Brick School High School graduating class of 1948 has lived this wonderful dream to the fullest for over seven decades, and the fifteen surviving members of their favourite class will celebrate their gala 70th reunion back at their old Ponoka ‘stomping grounds’ on Saturday, June 9 at the Royal Canadian Legion.
The Ponoka High School commencement exercises for the graduating class of 1948 took place in front of a large crowd of parents, teachers, and guests on June 11, 1948 at the Elk’s Hall on Chipman Avenue. The 28 excited young students proudly received their Diplomas, special awards, and congratulations from Principal Mr. Howard L. Larson, School Superintendent Mr. H. R. Ross, and teachers Miss Lillian McPhie, Mr. Robert Galvin, and Miss G. Hanna, with a gala banquet and dance to wrap up the festivities. Since that amazing and glitzy evening of celebration the ‘class of ’48’ moved on with the rest of their lives, pursuing further education and careers, and of course getting married, raising their rambunctious families, while making their homes in their favourite old home town, or moving to locations of their choice throughout our great province, nation, or beyond.
The happy-go-lucky PHS class of 1948 and their spouses and teachers have always strived to keep in touch with each other as much as possible over the years, celebrating their 50th reunion in 1998. They have been able to casually get together in Ponoka every five years to share the memories and photos, to pay tribute to those who could not attend or have passed on, to mix and mingle with old class-mates, friends, and neighbours, and to browse through this great family community where their lives began over 80 years ago. This gala 70th reunion event will be hosted as an ‘open house’ at the Royal Canadian Legion along Highway 2A Ponoka on Saturday, June 9th from 2 to 5 p.m., and as well as inviting all their children and families to attend, the grads will also warmly welcome everyone to pop in and offer congratulations to these very ‘lively seniors’ and to share a light lunch, a beverage, and lots of keen camaraderie and unbelievable tales and triumphs. For more information please give Verna Raycraft a call at 403-783-5396.
Memories are made of this
During my delightful interview with Verna Cerveny (Raycraft) and Jessie Curtis (Vieaux), I really enjoyed chatting and browsing through the old Ponoka High School yearbooks, photos, and information, which these ladies have really enjoyed getting together and planning for each of these gala class reunions. I am so pleased to be able to share here with you just a few of the grand old memories and clichés of the ‘Class of 1948’ and their early and very active lives of learning and wild shenanigans, while having lots of fun trying to grow up in and around this fabulous community.
• The 1948 Grad class and many others will never forget their teachers of that era who patiently guided them towards their successes. Howard Larson was the principal, Mel McCoy was the Industrial Arts teacher, and the rest of the staff included: Miss Jean Wallace, Robert Galvin, Lillian McPhie, Jennie Riddell, Miss G. Hanna, Mrs. E. M. Finlayson, who always said ‘The world is like a mirror, reflecting what you do, and if you face it smiling, it will smile right back at you,” and Walter Kaasa, our amazing drama teacher, who later went on to teach at the Victoria Composite High School in Edmonton, and eventually became the coordinator of cultural services and the Minister of Culture for the Alberta Government.
• All the students looked forward to meeting at the Club Cafe after school for cokes and playing songs from the little jukeboxes that were at each table. Ron Mayled, Don MacLeod, and Leighton Hinkley fondly recalled that when the guys were a little short of gas they went around to the local gas stations late at night when they were closed and drained the hoses on the pumps, always watching out for the ‘town cop’ out on his rounds.
• The Sadie Hawkins’ Dances at the Ponoka High School were the highlight of the year. All the girls really looked forward to that because the rule of the day was when they asked a certain guy to take them, they could not refuse. Chain Lakes was always a great place for ‘bush parties’ in those days, and often stayed out there all night, or until they were awoken by the loons. As there were very few cars in those days the kids had to ride their bikes to their destinations, while packing their picnic lunches, fishing rods, and all the rest.
• Apparently the ‘Class of 1948’ were a tough lot, who worked hard and played hard. They were all born around 1930 and were brought up to be mostly honest and respectful, sadly recalling the beginning of the world depression, which carried on until September 1939 when many of our town and country folks went off to war. It was not long before hundreds of noisy yellow Harvard’s and allied pilots from the Penhold airbase could be seen and heard training in the area skies both night and day.
• One of the amazing and never-to-forget happenings of their school years was when the King and Queen of England visited Edmonton on June 2, 1939 and hundreds of students and people were bused from miles around to see them. Another amazing sight was when the Alaska Highway was being built in 1939 and 1940 and hundreds of big trucks carrying tons of equipment and supplies could be seen roaring through Ponoka on the Highway night and day.
• They all loved to play on and along the Battle River, where everyone learned to swim, shoot gophers, fish, build a makeshift diving board or a raft, hung out at Three Islands, and played hockey or skated for miles, when the ice got hard enough. Although the Second World War was nearly over, many people in the nation were not that happy in 1943 when an income tax plan was introduced and those politicians were always trying to outdo each other, but somehow they managed to survive over the years, and can now cherish and share so many fabulous memories.and has it really changed that much along the way?