Class of ’58
Class of ’58
My graduating high school class rights a book.
When we moved to Wheat Ridge, Colorado, in 1949, it was little more than a farming community. I lived in the furthest north house in town. Well, it really wasn’t a town. We weren’t incorporated. In fact I’m not really sure what we were. We had an identity. Our high school nickname was, “the Farmers,” but beyond that dubious distinction we had little going for us – little, that is, except the chance to grow up in a wonderful place at an interesting time in history – a time of transition; a time of innocence; a time of hope.
The 50’s were an “in-between” generation. The 40’s had their World War II. The early 50’s had its Korea. We had…well, we had Elvis Presley and cars with long tail fins, Coors beer and clean air cooled by mountains to the west where we could escape for hunting, fishing and skiing. Denver was still a cow town. It was small enough, and yet big enough. It was our town. When people asked, “Where are you from?” We said, “Denver.” When they asked where we lived we said, “Wheat Ridge.”
We were the generation that grew up hiding our faces under our school desks from the nuclear flash. Our teachers helped us practice. We saw V-E Day and V-J Day with people dancing in the streets at the end of World War II, but at five years old it didn’t mean much to us. We lived through the polio scares and later saw the vaccine virtually eliminate the dreaded disease. We saw Korea and the first hints that there were limitations to U.S. power. Although Elvis was King, we also saw the Beatles make their first appearance on Ed Sullivan, and our parents laughed and shook their heads in disgust at the long-haired coiffeurs we were later to adopt. We ate our dinners on TV trays in front of the television while our parents watched Lawrence Welk. We came before drugs. I often wonder how we would have handled the temptations to which modern kids are exposed. We also saw the first Sputnik orbit, an event that triggered the space race. We saw President Kennedy announce we would, “go to the moon,” and we did. Then, we saw him shot. We also saw his brother, Bobby, shot. Our government sent us to the jungles of Vietnam to give our lives for meaningless hilltops. We lost our innocence there. We watched the nation come apart over Vietnam, and as we watched the last helicopter depart from the Saigon embassy roof, we realized we had lost the war. We witnessed the Freedom Marches and Sheriff Bull Connor’s dogs attack brave black people over race relations. We saw Haight-Ashbury and Woodstock. We saw the first president resign from office. We watched the Berlin Wall go up, and then, come down. We watched the Gulf War. Indeed, our generation occupied an interesting time in history.
These stories are personal stories written by members of the class of 1958 Wheat Ridge High School, Wheat Ridge, Colorado. They are not intended to be a chronicle of events, nor a history. We hope they give the reader a flavor for the times. They would make a good TV series, like Fred Savage in “The Wonder Years,” or they could be read like Bailey White, or Baxter Black, on National Public Radio. If they aren’t published we’ll just bind them up for our grandchildren. Maybe it will give them a flavor of what it was like for us to grow up in Wheat Ridge, Colorado in the 1940s and 50s – a wonderful place full of wonderful people, our families and friends.
Any resemblance to any person, living or dead is purely intentional. These are real people and these things really did happen.
Original stories – stories of schooldays and later in life.
These are stories about growing up in the 1940s and 50s, written by class members in their 60s. They are stories of our early years and stories from later in life. They are stories of things seen through our eyes and those of our friends. They are funny and they are sad. They are full of glory and joy, sadness and tragedy. They are our lives.
To our classmates, families, friends and teachers…
Thanks for getting us started and sharing our life…it wasn’t always easy…it wasn’t always fun…but it was always Wheat Ridge.
It is a great pity that men and women forget they have been children. Parents are apt to be foreigners to their sons and daughters. Maturity is the gate of Paradise which shuts behind us; and our memories are gradually weaned from the glories in which our nativity was cradled.
…George William Curtis 1860
From the class of ’58 WRHS