Saturday, April 17, 2010

Unions and Reunions

The Tie that Binds

Reader comments: We get regular feedback from readers. Sometimes the blog misbehaves and refuses to accept the comments. Fortunately, when that happens I often get an email, such as the one recently from my editor in chief and occasional guest blogger Jill Urso. In response to a previous week’s blog on Easter traditions she writes, “My mother was the organist for the Lutheran church on Walnut Avenue in Wilson. I remember sunrise services on Memorial Hill at Clairton Park. They would rent her a portable organ and she would have to pump it with her feet to keep it going!!! We never missed a year even though sometimes it was freezing!”

Reunions and other ties: I’m not sure how unique Clairton residents and former residents are about keeping in touch with their roots. If Mrs. Dr. Forgot’s high school is any indication, Clairton is unique. Her graduating class, which got their diplomas a few years and a couple of thousand miles away from mine has had exactly one formal reunion in the decades that followed graduation. They also had a recent brunch with a couple dozen classmates getting together one morning at a local country club. But Clairton denizens, past and present seem to have a proclivity to get together more often.

Bears across the years: Each year at Clairton Park a multi-year reunion is held at the Lodge. This year it will be held Saturday, September 4 starting at 11:00 a.m. Although the focus is on graduating classes between 1934 and 1970, members of other classes have never been turned away. It is a casual, multi-family affair with folks bringing their own lawn chairs, drinks, and spouses. It is said that a class reunion is the true measure of the love of a spouse or partner, as it can be their most boring experience ever. Not so the multi-year CHS reunions. So many families, spouses, colleagues and friends stop by that being bored simply is not an option. The sponsors of the Multi-year Reunion Picnic have a web site:

Bears across the miles: So many ex-pat Clairtonians have migrated to the Sunshine State that a Clairton reunion is held annually in Ft. Desoto Park, Florida. This one is held when the chill is on in Clairton – the third Saturday in February every year. For photos, directions, and other information, see the website that discusses the CHS Florida Reunion:

Golden Bears to meet this summer: The Clairton High School class of 1960 was unique in a variety of ways. Students came from Finleyville, Elrama, West Mifflin, Jefferson Borough, Pleasant Hills and other parts of the globe to attend CHS in the closing days of the 1950s. As sophomores the Class of 1960 was so large that the school administration had to resort to creative scheduling to accommodate the huge number of World War II babies. This was accomplished by opening the theater up for use as a study hall. The theater had wooden floors that slanted toward the stage, that also doubled as gym class (then called “phys ed”) as well as serving as the basketball floor for high school basketball games. A few ne’er-do-well lads would sit in the back rows during study hall and roll marbles down the wooden floors, disrupting the few studies that actually occurred.

To alleviate the CHS overcrowding a brand new school was built out in the sticks. It was named Thomas Jefferson High School and the inaugural class was carved out of the sophomore CHS Class of 1960.

A half century in the blink of an eye: This June the CHS class of 1960 will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their graduation with a reunion. This class is both unique and special in that starting with the 10th anniversary the class has held a reunion every five years. Every reunion was well planned by a core of hard working class officers and well attended by alums who had roamed the globe – from California to France to Africa, and even a core group of locals who stayed nearby but attend each reunion. In the interest of full disclosure we must confess that we are a member of this class, but we also have a mailing list of well over 200 CHS alumni who read this blog regularly and we hear from others who have received the blog in an email. To those CHS classmates from 1960 who have not yet made plans to attend I encourage you to make your reservation soon. This one promises to be the best yet. Information can be found on the 1960 CHS website:

A Clairton Bear Football Legacy: Back in the “good old days” when men were men and women were glad of it, and you could tell one from the other even at a quick glance, Clairton was an athletic powerhouse. Swimming, track, basketball, football, and other sports were consistent winners in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) but none were ever state champs. That was only because there were no state championships until recently. The Bears football team came close a couple of times, getting knocked out in the semis or finals, but fame did not elude them long. The week before Christmas saw the Bears, which had previously won six WPIAL championships, win it all against Bishop McCourt. They are keeping up a rich tradition. So will the 1960 graduates reflect on the wins, losses, cheers, and tears this June. Hope to see you there.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Be True to Your School” by the Beach Boys.

Dr. Forgot

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