Saturday, July 16, 2011


Last weekend I attended the "Big Fling"  - the 50th Reunion of the Danvers High School Class of 1961.

I want to thank the 50th Class Reunion Committee (Marsha Yetman Coogan, Sue Halupowski Evans, Elaine Hayden Roy, Sue Ellen Tagg, and Barry Robertson) for organizing such a wonderful weekend of events. They chose a variety of locations and planned several different activities (e.g., bus tour of historic places in Danvers, a cocktail party, a tour of the Richmond-Holton school, a breakfast) -- each drawing a mix of classmates. Over 70 people attended the Saturday night dinner and dance party.

This was the first time I'd been invited to a Danvers school reunion (because I had left Danvers High before graduation). Quite a few other classmates were also coming back for the first time. I enjoyed making some new friends and well as connecting with old pals. A fun time!  

I especially enjoyed the stories told by my classmates about their experiences growing up in Danvers.  I hope to share many of these stories in coming columns or on this blog. I've invited my classmates to write down their memories and send them to me for inclusion in "Remembering Danvers."

See my August column "Reflecting on a High-School Reunion" (published in the Danvers Herald August 4, 2011).  Or view this version of it:

Reflecting on a High School Reunion
By Sandy Nichols Ward

Nametags! Thank goodness! That was my first thought as I entered the patio area where Danvers classmates were gathering for an informal "Welcome Cocktail Party" at the start of our 50th Reunion weekend. The people did not look familiar, but some names jumped right out at me. I then looked from the nametag up to the face and gradually recognized features of the younger student I once knew. This was my first-ever reunion with the Holten High School Class of 1961. I had left Danvers schools after 10th grade, so I was now attempting to recall faces from 52 or more years ago.  

Friendly smiles and a few greetings of "Hi Sandy!" helped draw me into conversations.  Whether they really recognized me, or were just reading from my nametag, didn't matter. We were soon exchanging stories about where we grew up and what we remembered.   Ken Beck recalled the dinner parties my mother and father used to host before square dances. That reminded me of the fun of being able to invite FOUR boys and three girls to join me in making a "square" for a dinner and dance date. The only trouble was that these boys would then meet my beautiful younger sister and flirt with her, not me. I laughed with Ken about these long-ago memories. 

And so the weekend went, with much laughter and story-telling among classmates as each story triggered someone else's memories.  "Do you remember Nesson's Dept store?" asks one; "I worked there!" answered another.  Orpheum Theater (25 cents for 2 movies, 1 cartoon, and world news)… Snow's Bakery… good fries at Woolworth's… the Rat Hole … late night visits to Cherry Hill…  the soda fountain at Almy's…  

On and on the stories flowed, especially on Saturday morning during the bus tour of Danvers. George Meehan, our tour guide, talked of historic sites and events in the 1600's, while we told of our own history and experiences in the 1950's and early 1960's. He took us to visit the Endicott Pear Tree, now safely preserved behind a high fence. Some classmates recalled climbing on it or painting it; others never before had seen the famous tree. We were quite impressed that a tree planted in the mid-1600's survives and STILL produces pears!  The 50-year span since our high school days seemed trifling compared to lifespan of that tree.

I discovered that I wasn't the only first-timer.  Helga, a German exchange student, was returning for the first time since her 1960/61 school year whe hse had resided with a Danvers family. She and I had never met, but we quickly connected. She's from the Munich area, which I had visited. Her son works in scientific research at Stanford University, where I had worked as a science librarian for 15 years. Helga needed a ride back to her hotel, which turned out to be the same one I was in!  I enjoyed getting to know her. One of the joys of a reunion is making new connections as well as renewing old friendships.  

Of course I had fun reconnecting with old childhood friends. I'll write more of our stories in future columns.  I thank Gordon Lindroth for telling me about the reunion and passing my contact information to the organizing committee.  I thank the organizers for a very well-planned weekend that included a variety of activities from which to pick and choose.
I am SO glad that I attended this special reunion.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

1957 Ford Fairlane camper

In my old photo album, right after the photos of the July 1958 Horribles parade (which I posted in the entry below), I found a few photos of Niagara Falls. That was at the beginning of our family's 6-week camping trip across the country.  

We traveled in a 1957 Ford Fairlane stationwagon that my father adapted into a camper.  Here is a photo taken when we visited my uncle Dick and his family in Milwaukee.

Our family of four, two parents and two teenagers (13 and 15), were able to sleep inside that wagon, thanks to sleeping platforms my father constructed.   In this month's column, I'll describe the preparation of that car for our trip.

An important part of the camper design was the special roof-top luggage carrier, which could be opened from either side.   You can see it propped in open position below:

1st stop on our trip west,
visiting the Stevens family in Rochester, NY.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 4th Horribles Parade

I remember the Horribles Parade in the Danvers Highlands.

Here are two photos dated July 4, 1958.  I found them in my old album.

I recognize my mother (in light-colored dress) standing to the left of the car.

Today I found an announcement online of this year's parade:
 "Join the most horrible parade in Danvers. All are welcome. Dress up yourselves, your wagons, your bikes, make your own floats, or just march in your most festive 4th of July attire. "

I'm glad to know that the tradition continues.

Horribles Parade 1958
Our family enjoyed coming to the Highlands and  watching the parade. My parents knew some people who lived nearby and liked to talk with their friends. My sister and I liked to look at the "Horrible" costumes. Unfortunately I didn't capture any good photos of the costumes. Probably I was too busy staring at the best ones and forgot to aim my camera. (I was new at photography that year, having just received a Brownie StarFlash camera at Christmas 1957.)