Class of 1927 planning a reunion

July 09, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Their ranks have thinned, but William Wagner says members of the Waynesboro High School graduating class of 1927 will hold reunions for as long as he can arrange them.

"We'll meet if it's only two of us," said Wagner, who has been arranging reunions for his class for about 20 years.

Of the 77 graduates of the class of '27, only 14 are still alive, Wagner said. Ten are expected to attend their 70th reunion on Aug. 2 at the Chestnut Logs restaurant.


"The other four rest in nursing homes and can't make it," said Wagner, who turns 88 next month. He has been organizing annual reunions since the class held its 50th reunion in 1977.

"The job fell into my hands after that," said Wagner of 15 Oller Court, Waynesboro.

Nine of the 10 attending the reunion still live in Pennsylvania. The 10th, Ruth Bonebrake Grohl, will travel from Ohio.

"They used to come from all over the country, but most of them are dead now," he said.

Wagner is combining reunions for the classes of 1927 through 1930 this time to have a bigger party.

"I'm expecting about 30 people," he said.

Members of the class of 1927 were born in 1909, the same year actor Errol Flynn, singer Carmen Miranda and Soviet leader Andrei Gromyko were born. William Howard Taft was president, and the typhus vaccine and laminated glass came on the scene.

Theirs was the 45th class to graduate from the South Potomac Street school. Grades seven and eight occupied the first floor, the high school was on the second and the auditorium was on the third floor.

Wagner remembers that eighth-graders "always thought it was a big deal to move up to the second floor.

A parking lot now occupies space where the school stood.

Back then, students either walked or took the streetcar to school.

"There were no school buses and no snow days. We had fun when it snowed," Wagner said.

The boys always wore shirts and ties and the girls wore dresses, he said. Girls were not allowed to wear lipstick or rouge.

There were few career choices for high school graduates in 1927, Wagner said. A few boys became college professors and many of the girls became teachers. Most of the rest went into the area's factories.

Wagner worked for his father's plumbing business until the Depression hit. He was let go so his father could keep his five other employees on the payroll. "They had families," he said.

Most of his classmates who went into the factories lost their jobs during the Depression. Wagner got a job as credit manager with Jacob Miller Co., an area furniture store, at $15 a week.

"We sold furniture for $1 down and $1 a week," he said.

He worked for the store for 37 years, retired for a few months, then was the local school district's truancy officer for the next 26 years, retiring last year.

This year's reunion will be one of 15 scheduled this summer by Waynesboro Area High School classes in conjunction with the town's bicentennial celebration.

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