Class of 1957 returns to ‘our wonderful town’

By Jim Swanson, Guest Columnist

On Saturday, Aug. 25, the Little Falls High School (LFHS) Class of 1957 will hold its 55th year reunion at the VFW in Little Falls. The theme will be “Back to School.” Tables of six will compete to answer questions about 1957 current events, sports and typical test questions given to the class. All answers will be made as group decisions.

The first reunion was at 10 years and held at the Falls Ballroom. That class reunion was probably quite typical, as students shared family and occupation information. Unquestionably there was some pride of accomplishment being exhibited. This will be the 10th consecutive reunion. Classmates have met every five years for the pure enjoyment of seeing one another.

New friendships within the group have developed and close high school friends relationships have been nurtured. It’s quite enjoyable to share memories of teachers Mr. Studley, Mr. Isaacson, Mr. Filippi and the lady teachers Ms. Powers, Ms. Nelson and the unforgettable Charley Martin.

The Class of ‘57 has been recognized and memorialized in song and theatre. Our generation believes we were privileged to grow up in the “best of times.” Many of us come from families of very modest means. It was still a big thing to graduate from high school. It meant as much to us (possibly more), as graduating from college today.

Our LFHS class produced the state baseball champions. Our boys won honors in many sports as more of our young men were free to participate in all types of afterschool activities. Speech, music and our debate teams took honors at district, regional and state events. These honors were equally shared by boys and girls.

Many scholarships were earned by graduating seniors. Our class produced independent business people, farmers, teachers and steady dependable employees with almost unbelievable work records for attendance and performance.

Whatever the reason for success, whether family, our good public, religious and one-room schools, it worked. Opportunity was our future, and we could experiment and make choices as to what we wanted to achieve.

Only two of our classmates’ marriages regrettably ended in divorce, perhaps because we were brought up to believe that if something didn’t work, you fixed it, you didn’t replace it.

We can say, almost to the person,  we were not babied nor coddled. We were taught to make our own way. It was a wonderful time.

Now, 55 years later, out of a Class of 154, 31 have died. Each reunion we pause to remember those we lost. They know they will be remembered.

We are scattered throughout the United States. This year, we will come home to Little Falls from Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nebraska, Montana, Florida, Texas, California, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and 43 Minnesota cities.

Only three of our classmates, Gervaise Schmidt, David Smith and Richard Olson, have addresses that are unknown to us.

We come home, not just to see our classmates, but because Little Falls is so very special in our hearts. We drive by the homes we know, the familiar main streets and eat at the Black and White and The Royal. We visualize what our high school looked like. We visit the dam and stop to see the rushing water and stroll through the park. It’s a wonderful town.

James L. (Jim) Swanson is a former resident of Little Falls and a member of the Class of 1957. He currently resides in Omaha, Neb.