Members Of The Class of ’69
Who Says You Can’t Go Back Again?
By Nancy Reddington
The Rye High Class of ’69 reunites October 11 through 13 to celebrate a “Golden Opportunity”.
Fifty years after graduation, we’ll reconnect to recall a unique time in our lives when, as a group of emotionally charged adolescents. we experienced (daily) unwarranted insecurities and apprehension while simultaneously feeling invincible, full of hope, and certain we knew everything we needed to know for the future that lay before us. We were blessed to perform this high-wire act inside the secure and contained world of Rye and Rye High School in particular, where parents, teachers, family, friends, and loved ones allowed us ample room to grow and learn. Dedicated teachers such as Mr. Dillenbeck (English), with his dreaded red “F”, taught us to communicate; Ms. McAnarney (Math) taught us to decipher and think logically; Mrs. Clark (Spanish) helped us appreciate other cultures; and Mr. Dawson and Mr. Carpenter deftly guided our young minds during a time of unparalleled changes in the world around us. For some, those years were frankly, unbearable; for others, some of the best years of their lives. For those very reasons, everyone can and should go back, and I’m going to tell you why.
First, 1969 was truly a year to be remembered, and celebrated. Not only were we there, but many of our classmates played a part in the history that was made that year. Think about these headlines, remember where you were, who you were with.
Man Walks on The Moon…Inspired by this, several members of the class of ’69 went on to study in hopes of working in NASA-related programs.
350,000 Rock n’ Roll Fans Gather in Woodstock …Several were there. The stories are amazing, and somewhat hair-raising. You’ll want to hear them. Beyond that, many who couldn’t go were making the music of the day, at the Rye Rec Canteen under the watchful eye of former NY Knick Dick Surhoff, whose son BJ went on to star for the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles. Every Saturday, despite the 18 year-old drinking age, we’d test the limit with fake ID’s and Bazooka Chewing Gum to see if we could mask the smell of Schaefer or Mateus wine on our breath to hear our classmates’ bands, like The Jaguars, The Casuals, Happy Time (who recorded and issued their own 45), The Odds and Ends (who “killed” on Ted Mack’s “Amateur Hour”) and Rye’s own Jolly (Dave) Green & the Giants, who will be featured with other ’69 guest players in a Friday night “Jam Session”. Go back and hear the music of our youth.
- NY Sports Rule: Mets, Jets, Knicks Win World Championships…The Amazin’ Mets, Joe “Willy” Namath, and the 1969-70 Knicks showed us that anything’s possible if you BELIEVE! This message was echoed by Rye High Coaches Nugent, Miller, Drago, Del Filardi, to name a few who built and led a very competitive Garnets sports scene. Not only did Rye lead in the-then traditional sports — Football, Baseball, Basketball, Track & Field, Field Hockey — but our Wrestling, Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse, Golf, Tennis, and Swimming were something to be proud of, then and now.
- Micro-processing, Internet predecessor, and Automated Technologies all Conceived…The invention of the Microprocessor and UNIX open the way for a computer revolution; The creation of the ARPANET plants the seed for the Internet we know and can’t live without today; and the first ATM is installed in the U.S. As rising college freshmen, the opportunities of these technological advances led to career and life enhancements that shaped and changed the lives of every grad. Our classmates have gone on to work and prosper in every area of technology born that year. Find out about the interesting careers and the myriad of ways they have thrived in this Technological Revolution.
- The Vietnam War Rages on …Richard Nixon was inaugurated as our 37th President and the fifth to cope with the Vietnam War. The first draft lottery was held, and several graduates went on to serve our country, while three major TV networks broadcast horrific images and body counts. Fortunately, the first troop withdrawals also began in 1969, as mounting pressure and unrest swept America, and college campuses in particular, and RHS grads joined in protest. Go back and honor those who served and those who fought at home to be heard in order to bring the war to an end.
If all the above is not motivation enough to get you to go back and appreciate those times, consider more recent news.
Members of the Rye High School class of 1969
- The Rye Smoke Shop Closes after nearly 50 years…This happened in 2016. That’s right mate, you outlasted a legend and probably one of the last places in town that was there when you were. Can you remember other beloved places in town from your youth, like Rips, that greasy hangout with awesome fries, chocolate egg cream, and homemade fresh lemonade; or Alfonso’s pizza where we went after the Canteen; or Woolworth’s and McCullough’s Pharmacy with their soda fountains and 35-cent sundaes; or (Jerry) Maguire’s classic rare roast beef wedge (luckily Jerry’s is still there on the Post Road)?
Go back, I say, and compare notes about people, places, things, and experiences with your lifetime friends from a lifetime ago…Why? Because they are part of the story of your life and we want to find out how their stories turned out.
I, for one, am going back and looking forward to a weekend with meaningful conversations – not so much about who we were or what we did and why back then, but how we’ve all come through to this point and where we go from here.