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Remember When: 1985

by Rick Blane

The following article appeared in Summer, 2004 Foundation News, Vol. 16, No. 3

Next year the senior class of 1985 will celebrate its 20-year reunion. My parents graduated in the mid-60s, but what a difference between their senior years and mine. We were a new generation.

In the 60s, there were only two high schools in town: SRHS and Montgomery. In 1985, there were four high schools. We competed against Montgomery, Piner and Cardinal Newman. The biggest change between my parents’ class and my class was the continued emergence of girls’ athletics. High school sports truly became co-ed: SRHS fielded girls’ teams in soccer, tennis, basketball, softball, cross country and track. The 1985 teams were good: the Girls’ Varsity Softball team took second place in the North Bay League. The Varsity Girls’ Track Team won the All-City meet, beating all the other high schools. And, even better, the Girls’ Soccer team won the NBL/SCL championship! In the Echo, the pictures of the varsity soccer team and the varsity track team were comprised of both the boys’ team and the girls’ team, something my parents couldn’t have imagined in the 1960s.

We were diverse. Our last names now included Tran, Voravongsa, Chu, Guantong, Laiwa, Lum, Nguyen and Yukimasa. We called ourselves preppies, nerds, drama-ites, rockers, new wavers, mods, aggies and webrews. Our studies were diverse. We had everything from advanced placement classes to Work Experience Education programs. Some of us co-enrolled at SRJC. Social science offered behavioral science, current affairs, world affairs and 20th century. Independent studies in American government and US history were offered.

The computer age had arrived. We took keyboarding (a new term for typing), word processing, electronics and computer programming. Vocational goals were addressed. Agriculture offered agricultural occupations, forestry and animal science. Automotive maintenance and small gas engine classes were available. SRHS recognized the needs of others with out impaired hearing program, special education students and English as a second language. SRHS in the 60s was never like this!

Our principal was Dan Thomas. He wore sweaters, sometimes wrote poetry and was just a real neat guy. We were fortunate—it was his last year at SRHS. The school population increased to 1800 students. Bill Cody, Mike Daniels, Dan Earl and Helen Griesemer were some of our favorite teachers. Our drama and music departments were absolutely outstanding. Does anyone remember Ed Von der Porten’s first period history class when he dressed up as a Nazi soldier and played German music in order to emphasize that time in history? He and Mr. DeSoto were legends in their own time. We had a great faculty, and we somehow rewarded them by printing their pictures upside down in the Echo.

We were active. There were 15 different clubs on campus. The traditional ones included Key Club, Drama Club, Future Farmers of America, California Scholarship Federation (since 1925) and all that. But we also had the Backpacking Club, the International Club, Students for Social Responsibility, Molo Di and an esoteric and unofficial group of lads who called themselves Webrews.

Devoting themselves to the principles of Adolph Coors, the Webrews wore coast and ties, shorts and sandals and drank beer when appropriate. They all had very clever nicknames, but no one today can remember his own name or what it meant in the first place. This studious group only lasted one year on campus. Perhaps it was the so-called “initiation” of fledging sophomores, running naked at night across the Bennett Valley golf course that provided its downfall. This is a little known secret. But what can you say about high school fraternities?

1985 was the year Mary Lou Renton vaulted to fame in the Summer Olympics and Miss America, Vanessa Williams, fell from glory. 1985 was the year a seventy-one year old record was broken at SRHS: junior Tom Macken ran the mile in 4:18.4, shattering the record that had been set in 1914 by Panther Larry Chapman.

Ronald Reagan was re-elected for his second term—or did Mondale and Ferraro simply lose? At Stanford, the San Francisco 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in the Super Bowl. We played Trivial Pursuit. Some of us used tanning beds. We ended sentences by saying “not.” We were very cool at that. The music of the Beatles, the Moody Blues and the Doors was history. The music of 1985 featured Madonna, Arrowsmith, Elton John and Huey Lewis and the News—and that music is till with us today.

We had fun, we had tremendous spirit. “Ghostbusters” was a fabulous movie featuring a little white ghost, slashed diagonally with a wide, red bar. So we became “Vikingbusters” at the Santa Rosa-Montgomery rally that year. We even had “Vikingbuster” t-shirts. The faculty later said it was one of the biggest and most successful ever. Not only was it big and spirited, but we papered telephone poles, cars and most of downtown Santa Rosa with flyers proclaiming our dominance over the dreaded Montgomery.

At SRHS, we took part ina Coca-Cola commercial. Do you remember that horrible stuff called “New Coke?” It was so bad they brought back the original flavor and re-named it “Classic Coke.” And do you also remember Clara Peller bellowing, “Where’s the beef?”

Speaking of beef, in 1985 Roger’s Burgers on Mendocino closed its door. Mr. Daniels went into a nostalgic funk because he worked there while a SRHS student, you know. But the Santa Rosa Grill on Mendocino with its 1940s decor was new and so we went there. Leatherby’s Family Creamery (behind Acapulco) featuring old-fashioned ice cream became the place to go. The year drew to a close with the publication of 240-page Echo and a certain derogatory remark about some of the seniors. Now I can’t even remember what was said.

The Senior Picnic was at the Windsor Waterworks. Senior Grad Night started at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, dinner at the Velvet Turtle in San Rafael and culminated in an all-night cruise on San Francisco Bay.

Our senior prom was at the Villa Chanticleer in Healdsburg, but our graduation really took the prize. A new law required all Santa Rosa high schools to hold graduation ceremonies on the same day. Somehow Montgomery was allowed to use Bailey Field (not us) and we ended up at the fairgrounds. It was bad; some parents were still driving around as we received our diplomas. It was the first—and last—time that a SRHS graduation took place at the fairgrounds. That was almost twenty years ago.

Two faculty members later told us that the Class of 1985 was one of their all time favorites, that we would go on to fame and fortune and become “masters of the universe.”

So what made us different? Looking back, we weren’t “heavy,” if anything we were “light.” Our senior year was good to us. We were diverse in every sense of the word. We had good times, we had spirit and we had fun. We looked out for one another. It was simple as that. My senior class was different than my parents’ class. But we were different. We were a new Santa Rosa High School generation—and proud of it.

Class of 1985 Yearbook

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