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Remember When: 1960

by Rick Blane

The decade of the 1960s was one of tumultuous changes, but none of the 347 SRHS seniors who graduated on SRJC’s Bailey Field June 16 of 1960 had any idea what the future held. If you were like me, you were just happy that 12 long years of schooling was at last over. Today, the 50 years since that graduation seems, in contrast, to have flown by. I hope the years have been as kind to you as they have to me, and I hope you can look back on those years at SRHS with fondness. I sure do.

We were not so interested in change in 1960. We were interested in tradition. Seniors when classes began in September, we were eager to enjoy our entitlements.
The SRHS administration opened the year with the warnings and reminders we were used to. Mr. Dardis warned us about late slips and absences. Those warnings weren’t for us seniors because I think we enjoyed coming to school. That’s where we’d find our friends, so we didn’t want to be absent. But I knew three guys, close friends, who often went hunting or fishing rather than come to school.
Mr. Dardis also reminded us about using the ramps—one was for “up” and one was for “down.” Avoid congestion, he said.
We respected the administrators and the teachers. We mostly did as we were told. We caused few problems. A friend told me that a few years after graduation she met Mrs. Parker downtown, and Mrs. P. said, “Oh, you were the last of the good kids.” I guess Mrs. Parker referred to the tumult of change that happened later.
Good? Well, we followed the dress code. We guys got regular haircuts. I went to Master Barbershop. We didn’t wear shorts or t-shirts. We bought our Levi’s at Keegan Bros or Paolini’s for $4.00 or so. Those jeans seemed never to wear out. Even if we regularly washed them.
Backless shoes and flip flops were the fad for the girls, but Mrs. Parker didn’t want the girls to wear them. Too dangerous on the ramps, she said. Did Mrs. Parker ever actually measure the length of a skirt? I don’t know that, but I do know she sent a group of girls home on Senior Character Day because she thought their “Dogpatch Girl” costumes were inappropriate. I heard that she also told the song leaders to lengthen their skirts and to alter their outfits to avoid what she thought might be a spectacle. One of the song leaders I knew told me that, but I didn’t know what she meant by “spectacle.”
The car caravan before the Big Game with Montgomery was special. We drove decorated cars downtown at lunch and honked and honked and yelled and yelled. Shoppers and merchants came out of the stores and waved and cheered. We had a rally with songs and cheers on the steps of the courthouse. Then on Saturday, we played the Vikings at Bailey Field and won. We were NBL champs.
The Panther varsity basketball team also won the NBL and was invited to the Tournament of Champions in the Bay Area where we lost to St. Ignatius.
We had fun away from school, too. We “tooled” town and hung out at Gordon’s. We packed the cars and went to the Village Drive In. Sometimes we packed kids into the trunk. We bowled at the Rose Bowl or the Holiday Bowl. We went to the Canteen, skated at the Roller Palace, and in the warm weather we swam at Morton’s in Kenwood. We drove up and down Fourth Street until it was time to go home. Most of us went home by the time our parents set for us. The few who didn’t were chased home by the cops for curfew violation—that is, if they were under 18.
We went to the coast on nice days, to Salmon Creek. I heard the song leaders didn’t come back from lunch on one of those nice days. A guy from the JC drove them to the coast. They probably wrote notes for each other. Who wrote your notes? My mom wrote all mine, so when I did miss class I wrote my own and signed my dad’s name. My, weren’t we clever?
Do you remember the bomb threat and how it emptied the school?  My steady girl friend that year worked in the office and took the call on that old PBX switchboard. She was frightened and said the staff was too. Once, she took another call and punched in Mr. O’Sullivan. Whatever she did, the phone shrieked in his ear and O’Sullivan angrily stormed out of his office and yelled at her. The shriek must’ve hurt because that man never showed anger.
We could leave campus at lunch. We’d grab a burger at Foster’s Freeze on Fourth Street. Kids without cars could walk up Mendocino and get a “Supreme” burger with bacon and cheese and “the works” for 40 cents at Roger’s. If that was too costly, we could get a 19-cent burger from Cal’s Drive In on the next block. Fries were 11 cents there, and a milkshake was 19 cents. Eat and Run next to the Richfield gas station on Fourth Street was popular.
On Saturdays, I liked to go downtown with a couple of buddies and get a hamburger or a hotdog at the Dog-e-Dinor near the old post office. The really bold guys drove out to Ingram’s Chili Bowl by Cloverleaf Ranch and ate chili and onions. At night, if we were lucky, we’d snare a parking spot in Gordon’s, nurse a 10-cent Coke and watch the cars drive through. We ate pizza at Roma’s on the Courthouse Square and pancakes at Foody’s by the El Rancho.
Remember the “Car of the Month” in the Santa Rosan? We sure liked our wheels. Souped-up engines, fancy paint jobs with striping and “tuck and roll” interiors. Guys stood around in the senior parking lot and talked about cars. After school and on Saturdays, you could find guys at Bing’s Speed Shop on Barham Avenue. Glasspack mufflers could be installed at North Bay Muffler and Speed Shop by the fire station on A Street.
There were lots of dances—the Welcome Back at the start of school, the Queen’s Ball, the Turnabout and, of course, the Prom. Were all those dances combined with Montgomery? I know the prom was. It was at the Flamingo. Where’d you rent your tux or dinner jacket? Keegan Bros? Henderson’s? Dwight Smith?
You probably bought the corsage at Grohe’s or Henry’s Flowers or Flowerland. Lots of guys bought the wrist corsage so they wouldn’t have to pin it on the girl’s dress in front of her folks.
Some girls went to the City to buy a prom dress. Others shopped at the White House, Rosenberg’s, Virginia Walter’s and the Fashion.
Do you remember “Stage Fright?” It was a one-act comedy written, produced and directed by members of the senior class and presented in the auditorium. Students liked it. It was about a house full of ghosts and was very funny. Remember those hard wooden seats? They weren’t so funny.
Our phone numbers were still LIberty. Remember yours? Mine was LI-5-3620. We had 4 television stations, 5 if your antenna could pull in the new Sacramento station. We watched “Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Wagon Train,” “Candid Camera” and “Andy Griffith.” We listened to rock and roll on K-JAX, the “nifty fifty,” to hear who was dedicating a song that night. A new group emerged that year from England, the Beatles. We went to the Roxy or the Cal to watch “Psycho,” “Spartacus” and “Pollyanna,” the Disney movie filmed in Santa Rosa.
Yes, 1960 was a “good” year and so were we. As we now get ready to celebrate the anniversary of the 50th year since we graduated, I think we are even better—“gooder,” if I can get away with that.

 Class of 1960 Yearbook

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