I had the fortunate opportunity last Saturday to attend the Las Vegas High School All Class Reunion. Now, I know, you're thinking "What's the big deal about that?"
The original Las Vegas High School was built in 1917 and was a Mission-style structure that was located on Fifth Street (now Las Vegas Blvd). In 1930, a new high school was built. This beautiful Art Deco landmark still stands at Seventh and Bridger. In 1930, the population of Las Vegas was still quite small. The town was only twenty five years old and many people thought the new High School was too expensive, too big, too far out of town and there would never be enough students to fill it. By 1932, School Supervisor Maude Frazier had filled filled the school with students. The burgeoning town of Boulder City was filled with families of the Dam workers and those students rode the bus into Las Vegas to attend high school until a school could be built in Boulder Ctiy.
Las Vegas High School was the only high school in town until the 1950s when Rancho High School, in North Las Vegas, opened its doors.
Some of the men and women who attended the Reunion last weekend graduated from the Original High School in the 1920s and they were busy busy sharing their stories and memories with other alumni. I sat and talked to John Feetam (Class of '21) and learned more about St. Thomas and forgotten places. Violet Tracht (Class of '25) was there talking with friends and talking about her car that she had to wind up to start.
The Class of 1941 was there and they were celebrating their 65th Reunion. Bonnie Rams, John Pinjuv and Emmett Sullivan were there along with many of their classmates. They described themselves as the War Year class as Pearl Harbor was attacked later that year and America went to war.
Gail Andress and others were there from the class of '44. Gail, Bud Kennedy and others dropped out of High School in their senior year to join the War effort. After the war, they completed their tests and received their graduation dipolmas. But the class of '44 treats them as their own.
It was a wonderful evening listening to these men and women talk about the town that they had grown up in. In some ways, it reminded me of Whitman Samplers and Currier and Ives. They had gone to grade school and middle school together, went on to High School and through it all friendships that had been forged over sixty years ago were still going strong.
Patty Hack had put together a slide show of postcards and photographs from local hangouts and landmarks from the era. These men and women sat at the tables and would see a familiar place like the Biltmore Hotel and start talking about how Sen. Richard Bryan had learned to swim there.
They were a little grayer, a little slower perhaps, but the amount of history in that ballroom at Sam's Town was undeniable. They were there to see old friends, share some memories and remember those that passed on. Sitting there listening to them. I was reminded that many of them went to college and then came back to help make their hometown a better place.
At the end of the evening, I felt very honored to have been invited.