70 years later, postwar Panthers get together to reminisce
Dorothy Lambert Kalma (center) and Joe Greenleaf (far right) chuckle as they participate in a joyful conversation with other members of the Snohomish High School’s class of 1948’s 70th reunion in Snohomish on Thursday, Aug 16.
SNOHOMISH — Alumni of Snohomish High School gathered Thursday for a rarely celebrated milestone: the 70th anniversary of their high school graduation in 1948.
More than 30 classmates and family members made it to the reunion at First Presbyterian Church, some traveling from as far as California to attend.
Old bonds remained tight over the years for many of the octogenarians who lived in Snohomish when the town population numbered about 3,000.
In the pre-mobile phone days, closeness came with the territory as the teens ran to one another’s homes
to visit or piled on top of each other into cars for a lift to school instead of just texting, remembered Dorothy Lambert.
While historians call her era the Silent Generation in homage to its industrious and uncomplaining character, Lambert had another name for her generation: the “make do generation.”
“We were as poor as church mice but as rich as kings,” she said. The group enjoyed making do on makeshift holidays too: they remembered annual flooding of the Pilchuck River canceling school and the hunting trips that ensued instead with undiminished glee.
For fun, the classmates might tune in for weekly installments of Superman, Green Hornet or Suspense on the radio, said Barb Olson Greenleaf. Outdoor entertainment included games of “Annie Annie Over” where a player would throw a ball over a house, Greenleaf said. If the ball was caught on the other side, the one who caught it could sneak around the house and tag the thrower who tried to escape to the opposite side of the house.
They remembered discipline in those days with a little less enthusiasm: “We didn’t dare talk back,” said one attendee. Barb Gilbert explained why: “We might’ve had a whipping.”
School life was stricter, too, and boys and girls were kept apart in sports. They also dressed distinctly: there were no pants allowed for women said Lillian Wollen, or “Queen Lil” as she was known for her role in a late 1940s Kla Ha Ya Days.
And while there weren’t whippings at school, former students said they feared but then learned to love veterans like a young vice principal, Hal Moe.
The routine of school gave way to international conflict that changed the lives of many in the class and interrupted schooling for some. As young men served in the Korean conflict that included the early 1950s Korean War, the women were recruited for job opportunities, including at Boeing, the group recalled.
While the decades have brought change and loss — six members of the class have died in the past six months, organizer Edna Hannaford said — they have also revealed the priceless treasures of youth and age.
“We have our memories and our imaginations,” Lambert said.
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