By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Sixty years ago, the Delano High School class of 1949 graduated and went their separate ways, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting together once a year to catch up and remember the “good old days.”
Fifteen of the 43 original graduates met at the Delano Pizza Ranch Oct. 1.
“You know everybody’s age, so the women couldn’t fib,” joked Don Oestreich of St. Louis Park.
The class of 1949 was the largest in Delano at the time, and was the first to be split into two sections.
“We were so rowdy, they couldn’t handle us all in a bunch,” said Bill Eppel of Delano.
One of the stunts Eppel recalls involved a boy hanging out of a second-story window.
“A kid got hung out of the window of the science lab,” Eppel said. “They had him by the ankles.”
The students in the study hall on the first floor could see the boy through the windows. The study hall teacher had her back turned, and didn’t know what was going on.
“Everybody was just laughing and carrying on, and by the time she turned around, they had pulled him back up,” Eppel said. “We were lucky we didn’t kill somebody.”
Even after high school, some of the 1949 graduates continued to live “on the edge.”
In the late 1980s, for example, Oestreich and his girlfriend went over the Ford Dam in Minneapolis with a fishing boat.
“The motor stalled out and over we went,” Oestreich said.
Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the class was notified about the incident. Oestreich said they still talk about it.
“You never know what they’ll bring up at these reunions,” he said.
Being the class of 1949, they had a big 49th reunion at a golf course. Ruth Bauman said the class used to hire bands and entertainment for the reunions.
“Then, we found out we just like to sit and talk,” she said.
For their 50th reunion, Eileen Klaers had the idea of giving away an actual door as a door prize.
“We rigged the contest so that she won the door,” Bauman laughed.
When reminded about the door, Klaers laughed uncontrollably.
“I can’t get over that one,” she laughed. “My joke kind of backfired.”
Klaers still has the door, and it serves as a memory of all the good times that the class has shared.
“Our class, in about the last 10 years, has gotten really close,” Bauman said. The class had been close in high school, but became busy with families and careers throughout the years.
“Now that we’re retired, we’re kind of getting back together again,” Bauman said.
The high school years were wonderful, Marlys Johnson said. “We had 43 people in our class, and we knew every one of them.”
“We went to a lot of dances and movies,” added her twin sister, Marlene Gabbert.
“It was a great time going through high school,” said Hank Vogelgesang, who made many memories in high school.
“Some, I can’t tell you,” he laughed.
“We were in trouble all the time,” Klaers added. “We had such a good time at our reunion, recalling the old times and the crazy things we did.”
Klaers made a quilt in the school colors that she takes to the reunions. Classmates sign the quilt and write sayings.
For the 40th class reunion, Klaers and Bauman put together a book with all their classmates’ contact information.
Now, 12 of the original 43 students are deceased, and some have moved out of state.
“We didn’t know if we’d make it to a 50th reunion,” Klaers said. “Well, we saw our 50th, and some of us even saw our 60th. I hope we get to see quite a few years yet together.”
As a remembrance of the class of 1949, classmates donated more than $200 to the Delano Senior Center.
“Any classmates who’d like to make a donation still can,” Klaers said. “They could really use it.”
Donations can be mailed to the Delano Senior Center at 234 2nd Street North, PO Box 462, Delano, MN 55328.