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Sixty years on memory lane

Langley High School class of 1947 - Patricia Duff
Langley High School class of 1947
— image credit: Patricia Duff

Langley High School class of 1947 meets for 60th reunion

It was 60 years ago that the 20 members of the Langley High School class of 1947 graduated and left their teenaged youth behind for the wider world.

But Whidbey Island seems to have a magnetic pull and of the nine remaining class members, almost all of them still live on the island.

In a celebration of that banner day in 1947, six members of that class will meet for dinner on Thursday at the home of classmate Don Goodfellow in Sandy Hook.

Browsing “The Falcon” of 1947, it is clear from the yearbook publication that times have changed. But it also makes apparent the universal truth that youth is fleeting and, just as these 77-year-old graduates were once 17, so all of us are barreling toward the time when many memories will have faded and friends will have passed away.

The Langley High School class of 1947 has the right idea — to celebrate the present while reveling in the youthful stories of the past.

And that is exactly what they’ll do, said Goodfellow, who was quick to point out that the best thing about getting older is that it doesn’t matter if you hear or tell stories over and over again because, by the time you get together again, everyone has forgotten them and they are ripe again for the re-telling.

“It’s usually a lot of laughs at these parties,” Goodfellow said.

“It’s a lot of ‘Do you remember this? Do you remember that?”

Goodfellow was on the football team in his senior year, and 1946 was Langley’s most successful football season in six years. The Falcons lost only one game out of seven.

Sports programs for the girls, however, were almost nonexistent. Langley’s girls “basketball team” met only to practice and never played another team.

“Those were the days when they only let the girls dribble once because they thought it was too strenuous for them,” Goodfellow said.

Meanwhile, the boys had competitive teams in football, baseball and basketball.

Goodfellow said the teams they had in his first three years at Langley High School were terrible due to a lack of coaches. World War II was raging and Island County had the worst teachers in the state because of its tiny population, he said. Breadwinners chose instead to work in the shipyards of Seattle and Bremerton during the war years.

But while their fathers served overseas, the students of Langley continued their young lives.

Just like every American high school experience, Langley High School had its senior prom.

Goodfellow was a bit shy in the dating department and never really had the date he wanted for the prom.

“I didn’t do much dating in those days,” he said.

“I was only 5’7 and the girl I wanted to date, Donna Howard, was 5’8. I didn’t ask her out because I didn’t want to look like Mutt and Jeff,” he added.

Goodfellow recalled a series of dances, and it seemed the class of 1947 knew how to party.

“It was all Tommy Dorsey and everybody did a lot of jitterbugging.”

But there were sobering moments, as well.

The class of 1947 suffered their share of tragedy when their popular classmate Lauren Vandemark Brixner drowned in Useless Bay before he began his senior year.

In addition to the class pictures, the lists of clubs, sports teams and faculty members, the yearbook printed the “Senior Class Prophecy,” the “Class History,” and the “Last Will and Testament of the Class of ’47.”

The prophecy is typical of a wide-eyed editorial staff of witty students who endearingly write who they think will end up married with children, who will eventually jump off the Deception Pass Bridge and who will become a professional gambler.

And like every senior class before and since, they had a theme song.

The class song was sung to the tune of “Apple Blossom Time” and except for the tune, the lyrics could apply to any senior class from any era in America.

We shall miss you in future years to come,

We are leaving, our school days soon are done,

It won’t be long, ‘till we are gone,

Mem’ries of Langley will still linger on.

Tests and studies and skipping school divine,

All the parties and games are left behind,

We will remain yours just the same,

The Class of ’47.

Goodfellow said that in addition to the banner year reunion parties, Langley High School alumni get together every second Thursday of each month at noon at The Rod & Gun Club in Langley. Anyone who attended the school before it became South Whidbey High School in 1982 is invited and Goodfellow said the crowd who attends keeps growing.

“We have a lot of laughs,” he said.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or pduff@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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