Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reflections on the Moline High School Graduates of 1966: The Class the Stars Fell On

I finished our 1966 reunion book, so that got me thinking about being born in Moline and growing up there. Since I had no comparison, I took everything for granted. For instance, G. Lavern Flambo organized all kinds of entertainment that brought world famous performers to the Quad Cities. I tell college students about watching Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, and Louis Bellson perform. They say, "You did? In Moline?" Benny Goodman played at Wharton, so I walked over and had my program signed. Wasn't every small town like that? I saw Flambo at Melo Cream all the time. How much does a kid know?

I was a bit embarrassed that my father's business was downtown. Later I came to appreciate the charm of old downtown areas, which get better with age, if the citizens and corporations keep them up. Flambo had his hole-in-the-wall WQUA station almost next door to the doughnut shop. In the background is the spire of First Lutheran Church, the mother church of the Swedish Augustana Lutheran Synod.

Lago's and Whitey's are two examples of local businesses seldom equaled anywhere else. Classmates long to come back to both places, and other eateries they remember with fondness.

Going over the John Deere, Coolidge, and MHS yearbooks reminded me of how organized we were, how often we volunteered to help in various ways. Of course, many adults and parents made that possible. The money earned from manufacturing helped a great deal too, as everyone has learned too late.

The Moline Dispatch seemed to cover every cat-hanging in town, so we took that for granted too. This photo of Jackie Ozanne was one of many about our chem-physics class. Three of those students earned PhDs later - in rocket science, math, and theology. The last category was appropriate because the two teachers prayed the whole time that I would graduate.

I see pictures like this and remember the stories, pranks, and classes. The warm memories overlap because many classmates were my mother's favorite students in class at Garfield, so I knew even more from all classes from her observations about them. People contact me and say, "Your mother saved my life," or "She was my favorite teacher." George Small told me, "I became an engineer because your mother had us build a working model of the Panama Canal." But I tell my grandchildren, "Dairy Queen came from the Medd family, and the Medd brothers invented the Blizzard machine."

Each group photograph seems to include someone who died too young. Many are no longer in contact with the reunion committee or the rest of us. That is another kind of loss. Do the missing or silent ones have children, grandchildren, and photos of where they live?

At the 40th reunion, Bruce Johnson said during a talk, "Yes, the Class the Stars Fell On," a reference to a famous West Point class of future generals. One classmate said at the 45th reunion, "I love that designation, because there are so many achievers in one class."

I will have to name them all a little later, but here are a few who come to mind, in no particular order:
  • A rocket scientist.
  • The best high school tennis coach in the US.
  • A nationally known fiction and business writer.
  • A performer on Broadway.
  • An Iowa Rock N Roll Hall of Fame recipient.
  • Three university professors.
  • A minister and singer with a world-wide ministry.
  • Five PhDs.
  • Three from the same neighborhood who went to Yale graduate school.
  • Two psychologists.
  • A cardiologist.
  • A veterinary physician.
  • Several nurses.
  • Several lawyers.
  • Public school teachers.
  • At least one engineer.
  • A Viet Nam war hero who earned the Medal of Honor.
  • Many who served our military forces with distinction, one rising to the rank of full colonel.
  • Parents who stayed together, raised their children, and now enjoy the delights of grandchildren.