Hagerstown classmates 'pretty much the same old person' even after 70 years

School spirit palpable at reunion

School spirit palpable at reunion

October 11, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- School spirit was palpable among a group of classmates Saturday afternoon at Fountain Head Country Club.

Linens and flowers in maroon and gray -- the school colors -- bedecked the tables as enthusiastic attendees dined, sang and joked.

But this was not a homecoming dance for teenagers. It was the 70th reunion for Hagerstown High School's class of 1938. The average attendee's age was 88.

Mary Jane Auxt, 88, of Hagerstown, was chairwoman of the event. Auxt and a friend grinned as they recalled going across the street from the school on Potomac Avenue to the Valencia.


"We used to go there to hang out, sneak smokes and dance," Auxt said.

Auxt said a lot has changed in schools over the years, especially morality and dress code. But she said she believes school spirit has remained the same.

"We like to root for our teams," she said. "Even at 88, we still go to basketball games and stuff."

Auxt said she has chaired the class reunion planning committee for years. From a graduating class of 311 students, 60 people attended Saturday's reunion. Auxt said she figured about half of them were classmates, while the other half were spouses, dates or caregivers. Nine classmates passed away since last year.

The reunion planning committee also has dwindled over the years, from an original group of 30 down to eight. The remaining group has seven women and one man, Hugh Everline, 87, of Hagerstown.

"I like those odds," Everline said with a wink toward the ladies. But he was quick to point out he was only joking. Everline's date was his fiancée, Kathleen Pennesi, whom he is set to wed this month.

Singer Abigail Cole, 11, of Mercersburg, Pa., entertained the group with spirited performances of songs including "Red Red Robin" and "Meet Me in St. Louis." The crowd smiled, laughed, cheered and sang along.

Everline and Auxt emceed the reunion. They passed out door prizes, led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to classmate Robert "Bob" E. Beck Sr. and worked their way around the room with a microphone inviting classmates to share thoughts, stories and memories.

A woman named Mabel said she was "just glad to still get out."

"But I still mow my own lawn though," she said.

Most people said they were "just glad to still be here."

Betty Crawford, 89, of Hagerstown, had a bit more on her mind.

"I am privileged to be here in this fast-moving world," Crawford said. "I love every minute of the technology, of the new things, and I'm almost 90 years old."

Marcel Snyder, 88, drove himself and his wife from Viera, Fla. to visit family and attend the reunion. Snyder, who found success with a career in the military and as a certified public accountant, said he likes to go to his class reunions when he can.

"I enjoy seeing everyone, trying to remember who they are," he said.

Snyder said all these years later, each of his classmates is "pretty much the same old person."

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