Class of '64 going home again

May 16, 2004

Forty years - a member of the Galesburg High School Class of 1964 says it flew by in the blink of an eye.

The class will have its 40th reunion July 23-24. The schedule of events and other information are available on the Web at Webmaster Frank Johnson, Class of '64, has done an outstanding job.

They were seniors when President Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas; the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan.

Betty Reinschmidt Nelson said the news of the President being assassinated came over the intercom.

"Everybody got up and went home," she said.

"It was a big class," Marty Goshert Smith said, 465 graduates. "The first of the baby boomers."

Smith and Nelson, said watching coach John Thiel's Silver Streaks play basketball was the thing to do.

There was the Elite 8 in Champaign. The Cobden Appleknockers shocked the Streaks.

"It was so big then," Marty said of Streaks basketball.

Betty tried to get on TV during the tourney.

"We held up our banner for television. That was verboten," Betty said. "I was a risk taker."

Girls basketball has a rich tradition here, but there were no interscholastic girls sports in 1964. Marty and Betty said there was plenty to do, though.

"There were a lot of activities for us in Galesburg," Marty said. "There were dances at the (American) Legion, at the Eagles, at Peppermint Lane," on the square.

The cover of the final edition that year of the school newspaper, The Budget, proclaimed, "Twistin' out the door in 64!" Dancing was a big deal.

Strange, Betty said; time seemed to move slowly as students waited for graduation. Now, the graduates prepare to retire. There's a lesson of some kind there for the Class of '04 as it prepares to graduate.

I graduated from Chillicothe IVC 35 years ago. Where did the time go? Am I really 53? There are days I feel I should still be 18.

Marty said there was "some bragging and boasting," at the 10th reunion. Discussions about health issues, grandchildren and retirement are expected to dominate this year.

Every class had an "in crowd;" the Class of '64 was no exception. Cliques didn't matter in the "real" world.

"What I recall at the 10-year reunion, some of them that had been real popular, their life had not been good after high school," Betty said.

Some members of the Class of '64 live in Galesburg, others are spread across the globe.

For example, Marty said Bob Bishop is in Paris, where he started a newspaper.

The edition of The Budget mentioned earlier features ads sure to bring back memories.

Remember the Platter, 67 S. Prairie, and its selection of 45s and albums? No CDs in 1964.

Who can forget heading to the Huddle Drive-In on North Henderson Street after the game for some 25-cent onion rings?

Organizers are still searching for 51 classmates; according to the Web site, 31 have passed away.

The class stayed close, having reunions every five years until the decade between the 30th and this year's. This one is particularly important.

"There's a sense to make connection," Betty said, "because we may never meet these people again."

They say you can never go home again; the Class of '64 plans to disprove that, if only for a couple of days.

John R. Pulliam is senior reporter at The Register-Mail. Respond to this column or send column ideas to him at 343-7181, extension 215, or

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