The Crawford High School class of 1953 gathered over the weekend to celebrate its 60-year reunion. Theirs was the only class to ride a float in Saturday's Pioneer Days parade.
Pat Polson, Mack Hoover, Danny Lynch, Charlie Klaseen, Dennis Turner, George Van Den Berg and Pat Bennett shared photographs and told what they'd been up to since their last reunion at Luce Pipher's place 10 years ago. They read letters from classmates Robert Bell and Ruth McElvain, neither of whom could come due to health reasons. They even talked politics, and still remained friends.
They all know each other very well.
"We were all kind of like a family," said Bennett, known to classmates as Patsy Hendrix, who organized their 50th and 60th reunions. They've all kept in touch over the years, first by phone and U.S. mail, now by email. A few of the 16 graduates stayed in the area. Lynch lives in Montrose, and Turner, Polson and Klaseen stayed in Delta County.
"I grew up 4 miles from where I was born," said Klaseen, who still ranches his family property on Fruitland Mesa. "I was just too poor to leave." After school he attended college at Mesa, but came home to help his dad on the ranch and never left. His children also live on the property and help with the ranching.
Polson, a.k.a. Patricia "Patty Lee" Porter, ranches on Rogers Mesa. "All of my five children live in the area," she said.
Van Den Berg lives in Durango and traveled the farthest to attend the reunion.
After graduation, Bennett left for Alaska, and returned 11 years later. She now lives on the property just outside Crawford where she and late brother Jack grew up. Roe Huling left for Anchorage before graduation. They lost Galen Bennett and Allen Burns early on, and Delcena Christian died between reunions.
You could fill a book with all their stories. Their class colors were fuchsia and blue, and the American Rose was their class flower. The year they graduated, the basketball team had the best record in school history. A favorite memory was when Richard Roberts came to school on "Baby Day" dressed in a diaper and carrying a baby bottle, "and it had whiskey in it," said Bennett. He got caught, of course, and got in plenty of trouble.
While Bennett and Polson were cheerleaders, Van Den Berg recited a popular cheer: "Tuck in your shirt tail, pull up your pants. Come on, Crawford, you still got a chance."
Klaseen brought scrapbooks filled with family and school pictures, including the ones his mom took on the class senior trip. Bus driver Floyd Clark took them to Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, Boulder Dam, Zion and Bryce Canyons, and to Salt Lake City. For some it was their first time out of western Colorado. "It was different than anything I'd ever seen," said Bennett.
While big cities were getting all the modern conveniences in the 1950s, Crawford was a remote town of about 50. "We were country kids," said Bennett. Before bus driver Wendle Shaw would pick them up, they had chores to do. When they wanted to play sports, they had to find a ride or saddle a horse. "We'd get there the best way we could," said Bennett. "We didn't have a lot."
She recalled when her mother, who prepared lunches at the school for many years, would take her and Jack to church every Sunday, something she is very grateful her busy mother made the effort to do. "Our transportation was a horse," said Bennett.
Klaseen and Lynch recalled when Crawford boasted five filling stations, a flour mill, shoe shop, cheese factory, candy factory, blacksmith shop, drugstore and a pool hall. "How many grocery stores?" asked Lynch. "Two, three," responded Charlie.
Bennett recalled how everyone used to hang out together. "We all hayed together and jumped in the pond and swam," she said. And they went to the drugstore for milkshakes. "They made the best milkshakes in the country." Of course, getting the money for the shakes was a problem, she added.
"It's different today," said Bennett, whose grandchildren attend school in Paonia. "Kids don't hang out like they used to."
The first CHS graduation ceremony was held in 1911, and in December, 1912, the building burnt down. The school re-opened in 1913. The last graduation was held in 1962. That year, CHS closed when the district consolidated with Delta County. "I suspected it because consolidation was everywhere," said Hoover. Remaining students were given the option of attending school in Paonia or Hotchkiss. It was a K-8 school for many years, and is now a K-6 school.
On Sept. 14 there will be an all-school reunion at the school building which turns 100 this year and is undergoing renovations which are expected to take another two to three years. Organizer Susie Steckel said the building will be open for the reunion. It's a sturdy building, said Steckel, "But it's got to be remodeled." The project will return much of the building to its original state, a commercial kitchen will be installed, and bathrooms, which are accessible by a steep set of stairs, will be moved to the main floor and brought up to code.
The last all-school reunion was held three years ago and was very well attended, said Steckel.blog comments powered by Disqus