It was a different world 50 years ago — one without cell phones, iPads, computers, apps, and the Internet. Perhaps an unimaginable existence for teenagers today, but for folks of a generation without these technology trappings, their teen years hold some of the best memories of their lives.
There is no better way to relive those great memories than to gather to celebrate with a class reunion. The Wyomissing Class of 1972 has been active in getting classmates together through the years and keeping these reunions going. For the 50th reunion, classmate Jeffrey Steltz stepped up to help coordinate the event. His motivation was a personal loss. “It is important to have these reunions, and I know that the class of ‘71 has a poster board of classmates that have died, and they reminisce and share stories about them. This past year my class lost two of my really close friends,” Jeffrey shares emotionally. “I felt that it was important to get together before too many others passed away, and to share good memories as part of the reunion.”
Jeffrey rallied support from seasoned reunion planners from his class, Gwen Gage, Leslie Deatrich, Lynn Kiefer, and Ann Woodward who were involved in previous reunions. Leslie explains, “I was on the committee every year for the 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th. In 2004 we got together for a party when we all turned 50 but after that we kind of stopped.” Gwen adds, “It was great getting together with some of my girlfriends for planning the 5th and 10th reunions. We enjoyed coming up with ideas for getting everyone together and making it fun.” Both women credit Jeffrey for taking the lead with the 50th reunion. “After the 50th birthday party, I didn’t think that we would have another reunion. If not for Jeff, we would not be having this reunion.”
The reunion took place on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Beverly Hills Tavern. “There were several marriages between the class of ‘71 and ‘72 so we’ve opened up to ’72 also,” says Jeff. “It was informal and the first part of the evening on the patio, and later moved inside for the meal and buffet.”
Memories bond classmates together. Steltz said, “One of the nice memories was that I played sports for Wyomissing, but we didn’t have a lot of success. Then Wyomissing merged with West Reading, and we achieved a county basketball championship and had successful years after that. At first, we didn’t know the people from West Reading, but they soon became some of my very best friends.”
Gwen Gage remembered, “There were a lot of sporting events and pep rallies. My brother Brian O’Reilly played basketball, and I enjoyed going to watch him. There were football games and sleepovers, and now when we get together, it’s like we are still kids! A great memory was when our class decided that we would have ‘informal’ portraits taken for the yearbook. We had pictures taken at the Stone House, in the creek, and sitting under the trees.”
“I always looked forward to the first day of school and getting back into the routine with a new schedule of classes. I can still remember the smell of paint, varnish, and newly waxed floors,” recalled Leslie Deatrich. “I think back to the ‘70s when hot pants and bell bottoms were ‘in’ and the girls wore their hair long. Up until 1971 girls were required to wear skirts to school, and it was a big turning point when they were able to wear pants. I was active in cheerleading and gained many memorable experiences from it. I remember going to the library to do term papers, which took a long time without computers or cell phones.”
“We had a good turnout for the reunion; about 50% from our class with people traveling from Florida, Georgia and Utah,” explains Steltz. Gwen Gage summed it up, “Because time goes so fast, we need more memories with the people we will never forget; there is a closeness, a bond.”