The mid-1960s were a time of incredible change in the world and at L.V. Rogers high school in Nelson, students were soaking it all in as they prepared to be launched into the next stage of their lives.
This weekend 270 LVR graduates from the classes of 1963 to 1965 will gather once again to swap stories of where their lives have taken them over the last 50 years.
“It seems like it was yesterday,” says Tim Allen (Class of ‘64), one of a group of nine graduates from those years that helped put the 50th class reunion together.
Emerging out of the post-war 1950s, the tumultuous decade ahead was one of tremendous creativity, changing social values, civil rights advances and sadly more war. In the years between 1963 and 1964, US president John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the Vietnam War escaladed, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens dominated hockey, The Beatles launched the British Invasion and the Space Race was in full flight.
In Nelson times were changing too, but those who will take part in the reunion this weekend were more focused on what was going on at home and in the classroom.
“Most of us left and went onto successful careers in areas like medicine and law,” says Allen. “I think a lot of that had to do with the great education we received at LVR.”
On the cusp of the 1960s, the Nelson students were still one step removed from the wildest times of the decade but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t great memories.
“We were not into the flower power and the drugs like the kids that were just two or three years after us, that is when the big changes were,” said Allen.
“It was much more loose and we had a great time. Nelson was a great place to grow up.”
Though the natural splendor of the Kootenays was their home, the actual town of Nelson was much different. And like many young graduating students today, opportunities were more abundant outside of our steep valley.
“At the time most of us wanted to get out of here,” said Allen. “You didn’t realize what you had until you go somewhere else.”
Allen went to the University of British Columbia and after he graduated worked for Labatt Brewery for 10 years. He went back to school in Ontario to be an optomotrist and once finished moved back to his old hometown after 18 years away.
“As adults you do start to realize what a great place it was to grow up and then you wanted to come back to raise your family here,” he said.
For the past two years, Allen has worked with Elaine Hagel (Ramsey), Bryan Reid, Bob Steed, Sheila Martin (Ramsey), Christine Sjolund (Rutherglen), Fran Crawford (Catenacci), Ted Ryan and Joan Jordan (Heddle) to put this weekend’s reunion together. The group has put together many events over the three days which will bring together the group for the first time since 1984.
With about 90 per cent of the classes coming from out of town, it will be a busy weekend with grads coming from all over Canada, North America and the world.
For more on the grad weekend, head to lvrogers63-65.net.
A BRIEF SKETCH OF THOSE INCREDIBLE YEARS
• March 1:
Iron Man makes comic debut.
• March 5: Patsy Cline dies in plane crash.
• March 22: The Beatles release their debut album Please Please Me.
• March 21: Alcatraz prison closes in San Francisco.
• April 20: FLQ bomb a Canadian Army recruitment centre in Quebec.
• April 22: Lester B. Pearson elected as Canada’s 14th prime minister.
• August 28: Martin Luther King gives “I have a dream…” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before 250,000.
• November 22: John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
• The mayor of Nelson in 1963 was Tom Shorthouse and the premier of British Columbia was WAC Bennett.
• Notable births in 1963 included: Conan O’Brien (comedian), Mike Babcock (NHL coach), Whitney Houston (singer), Johnny Depp (actor) and Brad Pitt (actor).
• January 18: Plans to build World Trade Centres in New York City announced.
• February 25: Cassius Clay beats Sonny Liston in Miami Beach to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
• March 9: First Mustang rolls off the assembly line at the Ford Motor Company.
• July 2: US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that abolishes racial segregation in the US.
• September 17: Bewitched premieres on ABC television.
• September 25: Pete Townsend of The Who destroys his first guitar on stage.
• October 10: Summer Olympics open in Tokyo.
• October 14: Martin Luther King wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
• Notable births in 1964 included: Sarah Palin (politician), Russell Crowe (actor), Jeff Bezos (chairman of Amazon), Brett Hull (hockey) and Eddie Vedder (musician).
• February 14: Canada’s maple leaf flag officially replaces the former union flag.
• February 21: African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X assasinated.
• April 5: My Fair Lady wins eight Acadamy Awards including Best Picture.
• May 22: First ever skateboard competition held in California.
• August 15: The Beatles play Shea Stadium in New York City before 56,000 fans.
• September 25: Tom & Jerry cartoon series makes its television debut on CBS.
• October 3: Fidel Castro announces Che Guevara has resigned and left the country.
• November 27: Tens of thousands of people picket the White House in Washington DC over the Vietnam War.
• Notable births in 1965 included: Peter MacKay (politician), Chris Rock (actor), JK Rowling (author), Mario Lemieux (hockey player) and Slash (musician).