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Class of ‘54 reunites one more time in Trail

This is the seventh time JL Crowe grads of 1954 have held a reunion
J.L. Crowe graduates celebrate their 65th high school reunion in Trail this week. Sheri Regnier photo

The old high school is no longer standing proud on the bench above East Trail, but the bond between classmates from the JL Crowe Class of ‘54 will always be, unbreakable.

After all, the graduates of 1954 are back together in Trail this week ready to whoop it up for their 65th high school reunion.

This is the seventh time the classmates have gathered together, the first time was in 1971 at the University of British Columbia. Then came the ‘Polyester Reunion’ in 1979 to mark a milestone 25 years, another in 1995, 2004, 2009, 2014 and now 2019, with the latter six all being held in Trail.

Many from the class no longer live nearby. Like past years, they’ve travelled to the city from the coast, a few are here from Alberta, and one retired professor, Bob Rowlands, came all the way from Madison, Wisconsin for the three-day affair.

“What I enjoy the most is the companionship,” said Bob, mentioning he made a visit to Camp Koolaree on Tuesday. “I went there for 10 years as a kid, my brother did too, and I had the pleasure of going there today. It was very enjoyable, our names are still plastered on the brick-coloured building.”

The get-together of 52, which includes 32 graduates and their partners, began with a wine and cheese on Tuesday night, where “Let’s Party” was the theme of the affair.

Emcee Larry Wolf is in town from Calgary, and like most of his other classmates, he’s made almost every reunion.

“This is my old stomping grounds, we all grew up here,” he said. “This time, we are calling it ‘65 years remembered.’ The first part we are going to highlight past reunions, and 2004 our pinnacle year,” Larry said, referring to banquet night on Wednesday. “Then, for the second part, we are going to look at all the interesting things people have been been doing over the past years.”

Reg Grandison was one of 147 graduates in the Class of ‘54. After a short stint at the Bluebell Mine (in Riondel) right out of high school, he joined the Peace Corps and later went into law. Reg, like the others, never passes on a chance to visit Trail to reminisce with his peers and bring himself up-to-date on what they are doing now.

“It’s nice seeing everyone again, I think Trail makes an industry of reunions because there so many of them,” he quipped. “And it’s the best place to come ‘from.’ Great people come from Trail, there are a lot scholars, lots of (athletes), so many successes and interesting people.”

To mark this 65th year, the reunion committee gathered their classmates’ mementos, including dozens of photos, school sweaters and letters, and a very special album that even holds the banquet menu from May 14, 1954 plus the convocation program from June 10 that year.

Dinner that night was tomato juice, turkey with potatoes, carrots and peas, and a dessert of ice cream and strawberries. The banquet started with the singing of “O Canada” and a toast to the Queen. A hymn arrangement ‘as sung at the Coronation of Elizabeth II’ opened the graduation ceremonies and closed with choral and orchestra numbers followed by God Save The Queen.

Barbara Holm (née Bailey) put together the book full of original programs and letters at the request of her life-long friend Jean Cargnelli (née Attaway). On the front is a photo of the two, taken at Syringa Lake back in the mid-1940’s.

“Look, I was still taller than you back then,” Barb joked to her friend. “Just this past year my husband and I took all the pictures the two of us had and put them on a flash drive … and I started going through two boxes marked ‘things for Barb to sort,’ so when Jean asked if I had pictures to bring, here they were.”

As far as a lasting memory from grad night, Barb had one to share.

“Someone in Tadanac had a party, and I remember sitting by the house watching the sun come up. I’ll never forget that.”

James Lloyd Crowe High School was constructed in 1951 and opened for grades 10 through 12 the following year. The option of Senior Matriculation (Grade 13) was also offered, or classes equivalent to first year college courses.

The Class of ‘54 was the first set of students to go through all high school grades to graduation.

This original high school was torn down in the mid-2000’s and replaced with a new high school for grades 8 through 12 in 2009. The first set of students who completed all five grades in the new school, graduated in 2014.

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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