|Parkrose Class of '52: friends forever
Bound by the common bond of attending Parkrose schools together more than 50 years ago, friends from the Parkrose High School Class of 1952 reunite monthly
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
While we don't know the effect the social media revolution (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Web sites like Classmates.com) will have on the way we relate to each other in the future, for now we know it widens our social circle and makes it easier to stay in touch. However, it also diminishes the need to actually see each other on a regular basis.
Unless, that is, you do it old school: meet face-to-face as a group. There is a group of friends who not only met in childhood, but literally attended the old school: two old - very old - Parkrose high schools.
Nowadays, the percentage of students who meet in grade school and go all the way through high school together is about 40%.
When Parkrose graduated 95 seniors in 1952 it was nearly the opposite percentage.
Before Internet social networking sites made it easier to find childhood friends and former high school classmates, you had to wait every five or 10 years or so to re-establish relationships and find lost friends at school reunions.
Some high school classes did get together more often and stayed in touch better because of the efforts of one or sometimes two people who became the equivalent of a social networking Web site before there was such a thing.
More than 50 years later, groups of eight to 14 classmates, along with other childhood friends, meet for lunch once a month at Elmer's Restaurant in Parkrose. We've lost track of six (classmates); we don't know where they are, said Clarence Sam Sorensen, de facto spokesman for the group after classmate Dick Wagner passed away last year. Their last official reunion was a two-day event in 2007.
I inherited all his files, said Sorensen. But I never sent out a Christmas letter pausing for effect, I didn't know what to say, the whole group laughing at the joke. There are, oh, about 47 of us still alive, said Sorensen. Gesturing toward his tablemates, Sorensen said, I have a computer, most of them don't. I send out an e-mail and call to remind them about the lunches. We invite the girls too, but none of them have showed up yet.
You can almost see and feel the affection and respect for each other emanating from them like heat waves on a hot day. Decades fall away from these accomplished fathers, grandfathers and even a few great-grandfathers as they laugh and kid each other - the language of love for men friends - as they did back in high school. Having met in elementary school, in some cases they matriculated all the way through college together.
Most of us either tried to or participated in some form of sports all through school, Sorensen remembered. (Bob) Barnard played baseball, (Mike) Van Alstyne was the basketball manager, Arlen (Young) played tennis, and (Dave) Dixon was a wrestler. Exceptional three-sport athletes in high school, Lund and Bettendorf were on the successful Parkrose varsity basketball team together. Bettendorf, at 6 feet 1 inch, was the point guard while Lund, at 5 feet 10 inches, was the center. Sorensen kept his fellow students informed of their athletic activities as a reporter for the Parkrose Bud, the school newspaper.
Our school colors were purple and white, Lund remembered. We had brand-new (basketball) uniforms until someone kept washing them with bleach - the purple bled into the white and it looked black, Lund recalled. It being shortly after World War II, the district didn't have money to buy new ones and risk this happening again. So, as Sorensen remembers, when someone at the district got a deal on black shirts they put it to a vote. In 1949, the administration gave the students a choice: black and white or scarlet and gray for the new school colors. To administrators' relief, the student body voted 154-97 for black and white.
One of their former elementary school teachers, who knows the classmates meet regularly, makes a point to call them during their lunch. Lois Campbell - Miss Eddy to her students - taught seventh grade at the old high school - which back then was a combined junior high and high school. Three of their high school teachers also stay in touch with the group: Miss Lind (Agnes Rands/Warren), Miss Deal (Dorothy Wells) and Miss Brishlie (Margaret Young).
The class of 1952 moved into the then-new Parkrose High School on 122nd Avenue - built in 1950 for $599,000 - in their sophomore year from the old high school that was on the north side of Prescott Street between 106th and 107th avenues. That high school's original football field is the same field that sits behind Prescott Elementary. Our baseball diamond was on one end and the backstop that's there today is the same identical one when we were kids, said Sorensen.
We had at least three different spellings for Broncos too, Sorensen remembered. The Oregonian kept spelling it B-r-o-n-c-o-s, we spelled it B-r-o-n-c-h-o-s at the Bud, and there was an argument that it should actually be spelled B-r-o-n-c-h-o-e-s. We had a vote (at the paper) and settled on the one they have now.
But, as these childhood friends will tell you, there is only one way to spell friendship.
They meet the third Tuesday of every month. If there's someone around and needs to contact me, Sorenson said, I'd hope they'll send me an e-mail. Contact Sorenson at Samsorensen258@yahoo.com or phone him at 503-253-8131.
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