Hagerstown High School Class of 1946 reminisce

September 10, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Louise (Boward) Banzhoff, left, gets a giggle out of a conversation that Leo Banzhoff and Earle Nicholas are having at a reunion for the Hagerstown High School Class of 1946.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Bob Hammond graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1947, but he had a good reason for attending the Class of 1946 reunion at the Elks Lodge on Robinwood Drive on Saturday: Were it not for World War II, that would have been his graduating class.

Hammond, 84, took a break from high school to join the Navy on D-Day 1944, when he was 17, having just completed his sophomore year. Discharged in 1946, he finished school and graduated a year late.

He was not the only one of his classmates to leave school to join the war.

"We had about, gee whiz, a right good many," Hammond said as he reminisced with former classmates at the lunchtime reunion. "It seems like they left a couple this month, a couple this month" as they reached age 17.

The memory of those missing male classmates — and their celebrated return — was among the stories told and retold Saturday as the close-knit classmates, now in their 80s, celebrated the 65th anniversary of their graduation year.

Corrine Yeakle, of the Class of 1947, recalled an assembly her senior year at which returning veterans shared their war stories.

"The football team we had the '46-'47 year won all the games because three-quarters of them were veterans," Yeakle said.

Some veterans returned in time to graduate in 1946, making it one of the school's larger graduating classes, said Bette McDonough Schindel, treasurer of the class' reunion committee.

Counting faces in class photos, committee members estimate there were 284 students in the Class of 1946, Schindel said.

Of those, Schindel sent invitations to 100, and 38 classmates — 63 people including their guests — attended the reunion, committee member Louise Bowerd Banzhoff said.

Previous reunions have included dancing, but these days, the classmates prefer to sit and chat, Schindel said. They spent the afternoon visiting with close friends and catching up with those they only see at reunions, sometimes having to reintroduce themselves.

"Golly, the people have changed," said Irene Hartle Buhrman, 83, of Leitersburg. "Sixty-five years is a long time."

The class has held reunions every five years, but organizers were not sure whether they would hold a 70th reunion, Schindel said.

"We're up in years, and in five years, we'll all be about 90," she said.

However, the classmates were determined that Saturday's reunion would not be their last. They voted Saturday to hold another in two years, Banzhoff said.

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