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Remember When: 1965

by Rick Blane

Remember how the school year started? The Hanley Fire burned all the way from Mt. St. Helena before it was stopped at the County Hospital. Some of us thought it might burn into town as far as the campus. Football practice was cancelled because of all the ash in the air. Coach Bagley never cancelled practice, so he must have been burning inside himself.

Sixteen new teachers joined our faculty that year, including Mr. DeSoto in English, Mr. O’Neill in social studies and Mr. Anderson in physical education. All three had great careers at SRHS and all three are deservedly on the Wall of Fame in the main hall. We had truly wonderful teachers!

And the principal, Mr. Duey. You remember his nickname, of course. And how did Mr. Brown know on Monday morning what we had done over the weekend. He must have had spies everywhere. I remember Mr. Elmore’s antics and crazy experiments in the chemistry classroom. And dapper Mr. Guymon, the typing teacher, and his pencil-thin mustache. Mr. Hansen used to lean back in his chair, and I’d wait for him to fall out of it. He never did, though.

When classes began that fall, Mr. Dardis warned the sophomores about what behavior was acceptable and what was not and about the consequences—you know, loss of credits and parent phone calls. We seniors smirked to ourselves, maybe remembering what it felt like to be at the bottom of the high school ladder. Did Mrs. Parker really measure the length of the girls’ dresses?

We were socially busy. The best dance of the year may have been the “Howdy.” It was the first of the year. Who gave it that name? Do you remember who was awarded a prize at the dance for doing the Twist and Shout? I believe we would call him “foot-challenged” in today’s parlance. Back then it was just “clumsy.”

We held the Queen’s Ball in the Rainbow Room at the El Rancho. “bids” were $2.00. You could rent a dinner jacket for the prom for $8.50. The Turnabout was in March. It was sponsored by Ra Ravas. The guys seemed to enjoy having the girls pay for a night out. It sure was different. The Prom was at the Flamingo. Where else? Ralph Rawson—who else?—and his orchestra played. We danced the Twist—really the non-dancer’s friend—the Watusi and the Swim.

Do you remember the assembly in January when the incoming spring student body president gave the outgoing fall student body president the “Brown Helmet Award?” What was that all about? I’ve always wondered.

While we didn’t have a lot of money in 1965, it sure seemed to go a lot farther. A hamburger at Arctic Circle down Mendocino Avenue cost 19 cents. But if you wanted a “real” burger, you could go to Eat-n-Run (some called it “Scarf and Barf”) and get two burger patties on French bread. You could get a burger as late as 2:00 AM at the Pickup, but who stayed out that late? Of course, you could get a “Supreme Burger” with cheese, bacon and “the works” at Roger’s for 35 cents. You also could get a Poor Boy at the 49er on Fourth Street. Remember the long lines at Baskin-Robins for ice cream?

Where did you get your hair cut? Town and Country? Master Barber? College Barber? You would pay under $2.00, I remember. Where did you buy your Levi’s? Keegans? Archie Kash? Brothers Four? I bought mine at Paolini’s on Wilson Street. What did we pay? $3.95 or so? Those denims seemed never to wear out. You had lots of choices in never-iron khakis. The ivy-league look was still popular.

The girls wore that high-waisted dress called the “Empire.” Their colors were bright—you know, jellybean like. Hairpieces were popular as the ladies tried to lengthen their hair. The “beehive” was also seen and gave rise to lots of stories about girls whose hair was a haven for spiders and things. Did we really believe those stories? Girls had their hair done for the big dances at House of Charles on Farmers Lane. Gensler-Lee Diamonds offered senior girls a free subscription to Seventeen Magazine as the jeweler hoped to influence future business.

In the spring the Santa Rosan warned us about “senioritis,” but we didn’t pay any attention to it. We were interested in trips to the river, Senior Vocation Day and Senior Character Day, where we voted for the most friendly and most likely to succeed and most talented and so on. Anybody remember the winners?

Speaking of the school paper, you remember the “Car of the Month?” I had two favorites—that 1934 Plymouth of “gangster fame” and the four-door Studebaker with all the sheet metal damage on the right side. But, seriously, some really cool rods were featured each month. Bing’s Speed Shop was a favorite shopping place for the guys.

I remember the 1964 Mustang appeared that year. It was a sensation! You could buy one or a ‘65 Chevelle for about $3000. Or you could buy a ‘55 Chevy that ran for $500. What would that Chevy cost today? If you could find one.

Spirit Week kept us occupied during football season, and we enjoyed the “Lick Montgomery” suckers and the Car Caravan after a noontime rally in front of the Courthouse. Sadly, Montgomery won that game, but we salvaged some honor with a win over the Vikings in basketball.

Block S initiation had cooled from some of the savagery of earlier years. Guys still had their heads shaved and wore girls’ dresses, but the ceremony itself was limited to such semi-embarrassing activities as pushing a peanut with the nose down the hall. Popcorn machine duty was pretty serious though. I heard that in the 40s and 50s the initiation could be pretty stressful! Electric shocks and other painful stuff. By 1965 I guess Coach Underhill had mellowed a bit, but certainly not when he saw athletes smoking cigarettes on the railroad tracks. The Railroad Luncheon Club, they called it. Who were the members

And Coach Vine. Remember his antics? He’d chew on towels, yell at the refs and stomp around. And those orange socks! The Vallejo rooters would imitate him. It sure was something to see. Mr. Vine taught government. Some would say he taught the Sporting Green or game films, but we sure liked him. “Jeezuz, Peezuz! There’s a pair to draw to,” he’d say. Or, “That’s what you get when you send a boy to do a man’s job!” He was a colorful character.

A typical Friday night? Drive, drive, drive. Around the Courthouse and up and down Fourth Street. We’d drop into Johnny and Red’s or Roma’s for a pizza. We’d go to Surf City for the slot car races upstairs. We’d go to the drive-ins, the passion pits, for a movie. The Village, the Star-Vue. Did anybody go to the Redwood? I sure didn’t. At the drive-in we guys would pound on the cars of our buddies if no heads were showing or if there was too much action inside the car. Later, we’d drive to the Pancake House on Santa Rosa Avenue for coffee until real late, then go home and fall into bed and sleep as late as we could the next morning. Unless we had jobs. We were up early if we did.

Saturday night was date night for the couples going steady. You could tell which girls were going with the athletes because they wore those gold footballs or basketballs or the guys’ Block S sweaters. I know that Coach Underhill hated that.

Lots of us had summer jobs where we earned money for school clothes and other stuff. We could always pick prunes—what a terrible job! But remember when school sometimes began later because of the prunes? That was special.

We watched The Sound of Music even if we didn’t like the singing. We watched The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Pawnbroker, Patch of Blue, and my favorite, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World. On television I enjoyed Bonanza and Leave It to Beaver. We listened to KPLS. It played the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Martha and the Vandellas, the Supremes, Bob Dylan, Sam the Sham and the Pharohs. I like that name! We didn’t listen to KSRO. It played music for old folks, but it did broadcast our games.

Lots of interesting but terrible stuff was going on in the world that our teachers didn’t talk to us about. The Voting Rights Act was passed to ensure that minorities could vote, the march on Selma, Alabama for racial equality, the war in Vietnam was heating up, the Free Speech Movement, and lots of unrest at college campuses. Did you see the famous “Daisy Commercial” on TV during the Lyndon Johnson/Barry Goldwater campaign for president?

I guess we were protected from all that. I guess in 1965 the outside world had not yet begun its invasion of Santa Rosa. But 1965 sure was a great year to be at SRHS!

Class of 1965 Yearbook

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