WHS Class of 1952 holds 60th reunion

On May 25 and 26, members of Westlake High School’s Class of 1952 held a reunion to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their graduation. Theirs may be the longest-running series of class reunions in the past 50 years.

There were originally 40 members in the class, of which 15 surviving classmates were able to attend, and 14 others were either unable to come or could not be reached. Nevertheless, two came from North Carolina, one from Colorado, and two more from California.

Small classes do not require catered banquets, a ballroom or an orchestra, so these folks concentrated on continuous conversations with dinner at Max & Erma’s on Friday evening followed by snacks at Tom Michelich’s home, and Shirley Ruddy Radvick hosted the group at her home in Avon during the afternoon and evening of the following day.

Starting with their first reunion in 1967, the classmates have found that they got along much better as adults than during their competitive teens, and all are grateful for having grown up in the small-town environment Westlake offered in the 1940s and 50s. They experienced rationing and air raid drills during their years in elementary school and enjoyed the post-war boom in the late 40s. Some of the boys entered the Army just as the Korean War broke out, but fortunately they all returned unscathed.

Before the arrival of television, these kids played outdoors in the woods and the fields after school, or listened to 15-minute radio serials before supper. Some lived on farms that had a few farm animals along with crops such as berries and grapes. 

There were few if any houses on Hilliard and Westwood, and the area between Detroit Road and the railroad tracks was mostly farmland. The high school, located just across the drive from the red brick elementary school that was razed in 2010, held 350 students from the 7th through the 12th grades.

The chief of police at the time did something that could only happen in a small town. A couple of times early in the evening on Halloween, he picked up three boys in this class who were prone to pranks, took them back to a jail cell where he provided them with snacks and comic books to keep them entertained and out of trouble, and then returned them to their homes later that evening. 

These are the stories that make a reunion interesting, and new tales emerge at every reunion. In addition, the classmates are fascinated in driving around Westlake and seeing how the neighborhoods and the businesses, like the trees, are filling in the empty spaces they played in as children. 

Westlake is thriving, but these folks still appreciate the quiet times they knew in its past.

– Dave Beato, Arvada, Colorado
Westlake High School Class of 1952

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Volume 4, Issue 12, Posted 9:51 AM, 06.12.2012