The Perry High School Class of 1969 — recently described by class historian Dan Garwood in a sadly misplaced letter to the editor as “the greatest class in the history of Perry High School” because it was so “smart, creative, fast and modest” — started off the weekend-long celebration of its 50th reunion Friday evening by meeting and mingling modestly in the Spring Valley Ballroom of the Hotel Pattee.
At about 170 graduates, the class of 1969 was certainly the greatest in terms of size, necessitating “Perry’s first outdoor commencement exercise at Dewey Field,” according to Garwood.
Many class members, some from Perry, some coming from about 60 other locations in Iowa and some from one of some 26 far flung states across America, gathered for a class photo at the start of the celebrations, with Bob Wilson of Perry, son of the class of 1969’s Jeffrey Wilson, bringing a short-lived order to the convocation by means of his camera and tripod.
Along with classmates and spouses, attendees were greeted former PHS teachers and staff members Tom South and and Mavis Stryck, graduates of the class of 1944.
Death has stricken from the rolls some 40 graduates of the class of ’69, according to Diana Mills Polski, who led a 20-person planning committee in organizing the reunion. Mills Polski said a memorial to their fallen classmates will be part of the program during the Saturday night banquet at La Poste and will include a toast with Boone’s Farm strawberry wine in imitation of teenage taste.
The 1960s was a decade “known for its roller-coaster turmoil,” Garwood wrote. “Assassinations, riots, newfangled music, lunar travel, a divisive war. Our class of ’69 fit the times.” Fifty years on, age has caught up with the Age of Aquarius, but the ideals still burn brightly in the eyes of the faithful, epitomized for the era in the words of the Fifth Dimension song, “Aquarius,” from the 1967 musical, “Hair.”
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars,
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars.
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius,
Age of Aquarius,
Harmony and understanding,
Sympathy and trust abounding,
No more falsehoods or derisions,
Golden living dreams of visions,
Mystic crystal revelation,
And the mind’s true liberation,
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in.