50th Reunion Celebrated by MHS Class of 1958

On October 2, 3, and 4, 2008, 107 classmates celebrated their 50th reunion in Mankato.  Classmates, spouses, guests, and former teachers joined the fun activities for a total of 190 in attendance. A 50th Reunion Directory was created for the event including a map illustrating where classmates are located throughout the USA. The data base for the class of 1958 includes 294 members with 232 available addresses. 

Thursday, October 2:  The first gathering of alums was at the Country Inn and Suites by Carlson.  Seven posters displayed the memorable activities from high school days:  The Junior Class Play, Time Out for Ginger; the Senior Class Play, The Robe; the Scarlet Basketball team went to State and placed 4th; cheerleaders were named best for the entire 1958 State Basketball Tourney; football, wrestling, track, golf, tennis, and baseball all placed well in either the Big Nine or State events; the debate team was a regional champ; band, choir, and orchestra as well as numerous clubs gave everyone an opportunity for creativity, leadership, and socializing; and this class of 1958 was the first to have a girl Student Council President, Liz Nelson.  One noteworthy observation was the class’ interest in giving to others.  Many of the clubs sponsored fund raisers. School dances used gift giving for admission, such as a “Toys for Tots” dance.  A significant poster was the one remembering 46 classmates who have passed away, 15 of whom we learned about since the 45th reunion.  People connections and internet resources to find addresses for 16 classmates have not yet helped.  Fifties music was played; however no one could hear it over all the chattering and people having a good time. 

Friday, October 3:  Activities began with a continental breakfast hosted by Mankato West High School in the school cafeteria.  The decorations, display cases, and all of the celebrative hype at the school were invigorating and fun. Fifty years ago, we are certain that we were much more quiet and subdued in our behavior.  The class of 1958, dressed in lots of red color, appreciated the reserved seating in the gym for the 12:30 p.m. Homecoming Assembly and Coronation which was impressive, exciting, and festive.  Elizabeth (Liz) Nelson Shriver represented our class of 1958 in her remarks to the assembly.  She recapped the many successes of 1958.  Our Principal was Milton Vihstadt, father of one of our classmates, Peggy Vihstadt Warren.  She noted that the hula hoop made its debut in 1958, typewriters were it--no computers in sight, American bandstand with Dick Clark was a favorite TV show, gas prices were $.20 a gallon, earning $.50 an hour as carhops at drive-ins was great, Elvis was “in,” as were pink and black colors and felt poodle skirts.  Her advice to the current high school class was to stay in touch after graduation—return for reunions—“what a special feeling it is to come home to such good friends.” 

Some 1958’ers gathered in the High School Little Theater for a “Reflective Discussion” led by Richard Putman.  There were 16 ideas from which to choose such as:  Knowing what you know now, if a kid just starting high school asked you for some good advice, what would you tell him/her?  What do you understand now that you wish you had understood when you were in high school?  What might your classmates be surprised to learn about you?  What has made you the happiest about your life thus far?  Other 1958’ers joined a special tour of the Vetter Stone Company.  Still others organized their own activities for the afternoon.  Many attended the Scarlet football game which they won against Winona High School followed by a gathering at the new Red Sky Lounge on South Front Street.  

Saturday, October 4:  Over 30 people joined the bus tour of the area with Fred Lutz as tour guide. With beautiful fall weather, nearly 100 people gathered at the Dam Store in Rapidan for a picnic lunch.  Jim Hruska, owner and 1958 alum, was assisted by his family in providing a wonderful home cooked lunch including home baked pies.  Beautiful antique cars were on display from the 50’s era.  

The big gala party was held at the Mankato Golf Club beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday eve. The program, with Fred Lutz, Reunion Co-chair as Emcee, included introductions of former MHS faculty—Karl Adolphson, Luverne Klar, Patty Thomsen Amann, and John Votca.  (Harold Schuchard and Bill Mickelson attended previous events).  Jonathan Zierdt, President and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth, spoke about “What Makes Mankato Great?”  Jean Bittner Wood led everyone in singing the High School Hymn and new words to “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music, accompanied by Terry Fuller.  Sandy Gosewisch Morgan, former cheerleader, led everyone in remembering the High School Rouser.  Jack Madsen, photographer for the events, shared a solo about “Remembering this Moment.”  Comments from many said this was the best reunion ever and it was a smashing success.

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