The Class of '67 looks back on idyllic school years


1967. The Vietnam War was escalating. Israel defeated the Arabs in the Six-Day War. Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court. The cordless telephone was tested and the average home cost $22,700.

But most of the seniors at Northeast High School were not worried about war or politics or the economy. Although some of them would go on to march in peace protests, experiment with drugs or die in Vietnam, in their senior year a big deal was skipping school to go on a picnic at Great Falls or painting their graduation year on the local water tower.

Saturday night, these baby boomers gathered for their 25th high school reunion, and were surprised at how much they had changed. Most were a few pounds heavier and had more than a few gray hairs, and several are now grandparents.

"I have a hard time recognizing people tonight," said John Kiser, a diving instructor and charter boat captain who lives in Southern Anne Arundel County. Although he has attended nearly all of his class reunions, he said he was amazed.

"I always think of us as not changing," he said.

About one-fourth of the 400-member class turned up for the reunion at the Severn Elks Club. Most have stayed in the Pasadena area, although some came from as far away as Florida.

"Everybody seems a lot older and heavier," said Carol Mattingly Green, who lives in Beltsville and manages a copier company. Her long hair is permed and frosted, she has three children, the oldest of whom is 24, but she doesn't look so different from the pretty student pictured in her yearbook.

She says her most vivid memory from high school is the senior picnic, when the class skipped school to go to Great Falls. Once there, her boyfriend got so drunk she had to keep him from falling in the water.

Duel Grogan remembers that picnic, too. He says he was the only one who got fined for swimming. He married his high school sweetheart and classmate, Debbi Lennox, and they had two children.

Mr. Grogan said he worries now about his children's future. "We could go anywhere and get a job," he said of his generation. "You're not going to do that today."

Although the Vietnam War was escalating and most boys knew they faced the draft, Mr. Grogan and several other men said they don't recall worrying about it. Several members of the class were killed in Vietnam just months after graduation.

"We were just having fun," he said. "You didn't really think about ... TC it until after graduation and your friends started dying."

No one could remember anyone protesting the war. Even the class radical, David Tull, answered the draft call, but was rejected for medical reasons.

When he was a student at Northeast, he was suspended from school for growing his hair down to his collar. Now Mr. Tull is a Washington artist, and wears his graying hair to his shoulder.

Always interested in art, he enrolled in the Maryland Art Institute and went on to start an ad agency. He later quit to become a painter.

Muff Stasch Kruse, who now lives in New Hampshire, said she also sees something different about her generation. "I think this generation is 10 years younger than their age," she said. "I think people are younger thinking and acting."

Mrs. Kruse was active in sports in high school, and today teaches sports to youngsters. She doesn't recall any radical inclinations among her classmates. "I think in high school we were all very establishment," she said.

Deborah Taylor, one of the reunion organizers, said her high school classmates were divided between the "frats" and the "deaners." Frat girls were athletes who wore their hair long and straight. The deaners wore beehive hairdos.

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