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Last Butler High class of the 1960s still having fun

The Butler Senior High School Class of 1969 55th reunion committee members are, seated, from left, Patty Snyder Clark, Sue Salisbury Edwards, Linda Spiece Burgoon and Lois Nebel Cranmer; and, standing, from left, Nancy Murphy Daw, Vic Rozic, Gary Rauschenberger and Ken Cherry. Not pictured are Sue Collins, Leona Peplowski Osche, Donnie Brown and Eileen Ianotti Grenci. Paula Grubbs/Butler Eagle

While it’s been 55 years since girls danced in their mini skirts to The Archies song “Sugar, Sugar” or young men and their families watched the TV nervously as lottery numbers were pulled to determine who would be drafted to go to Vietnam, don’t count the Class of 1969 out just yet.

A group of the Butler Senior High School graduates from that year are in the final throes of planning their 55th class reunion, which will be a dinner dance this weekend at the Butler Country Club.

Linda Spiece Burgoon said a reunion has been held every five years since the class’ 10th reunion in 1979.

“Having these reunions, we’ve reconnected to kids we graduated with,” she said. “A group of us girls go to movies or to fundraisers together, sometimes a couple times per month.”

Gary Rauschenberger said of the 903 BHS 1969 graduates, 68 classmates and 33 guests signed up for the 55th reunion.

“We’ve lost 50 classmates since the 50th reunion,” he said.

The reunion committee then discussed one classmate who had signed up for the upcoming reunion but died suddenly.

Rauschenberger said the reunions are important to those who attend.

“We can reminisce about the experiences that were common to us in the 1960s,” he said.

Burgoon said she tries to get people to come to the reunions, but some say they hated high school and their old friends don’t attend anyway.

But, she explained, cliques are a thing of the past after more than half a century, and classmates who didn’t know one another can become friends today.

“We make connections at the reunions,” Burgoon said. “There are people who talk to me now who never would have talked to me back then.”

Simpler time

The eight reunion committee members who met at Mac’s Cafe on Wednesday, June 19, fondly discussed their high school days in a year they consider the last gasp of innocence in America, before drugs, racial violence, the counterculture and other situations greatly altered the national landscape.

“We were the last class that had to wear skirts and dresses,” said Nancy Murphy Daw, referring to the prohibition of pants on girls in school before 1970, or so. “Boys couldn’t have their hair more than a quarter-inch past the top of their ears.”

She said two classmates, David H. Smith and Paul E. Angert, were killed in Vietnam after graduation.

“It seems like life was more precious back then, to me, with everything going on now in the country,” Daw said.

Lois Nebel Cranmer recalled Friday nights walking to Butler Tornado varsity football games from her Institute Hill home, and back again after the game.

On the way home, she and her friends might stop on Main Street for a slice of pizza and a pop.

Sue Salisbury Edwards remembered walking home from the weekly Tumble Inn dance at the current Cubs Hall — which was then the Butler YMCA — or walking to and from Neighborhood Nights held in the various city playgrounds.

She and Patty Snyder Clark, who also is on the reunion committee, would cross the Main Street viaduct, which at that time was a straight shot across the ravine and creek to South Main Street hill.

At the end of the bridge, she would head for Center Avenue for a walk up that hill, while Clark’s home was up Morton Avenue hill.

“It would have never even crossed my mind to be nervous,” Clark said of the late-night walk home.

“It was a much more innocent time,” Edwards said.

Rauschenberger said two notable members of the Class of 1969 are Jim Anderson, who won Emmy awards for music production in New York City, and the late Fred McCarren, who appeared on TV shows like “The Golden Girls,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Remington Steele” and the “Dukes of Hazzard,” as well as in the movie “The Goodbye Girl” and others.

The committee plans to continue holding their class reunion every five years for as long as possible.

“I value the friendships that have been developed over the last 50 years,” Edwards said.

Gary Rauschenberger
Sue Salisbury Edwards
Linda Spiece Burgoon

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