Larry Larkin

They may all be approaching their seventh decade but for this weekend they all, to the last person, will probably be acting like teenagers once again.

The Claremore Zebra Class of 1968 has returned for their 50th Class Reunion. Their movements probably will be a little slower now from that September Monday morning when their senior year of school started. Still the memories and laughter…and a few tears…will be totally in full gear.

Some of the events making history at the time included were the reported spotting of Big Foot. A huge hairy creature was filmed near Bluff Creek, CO. The musical “Hair”, nudity musical no less, opened off Broadway in New York. Thousands of Viet Nam protestors marched on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. During the fighting south Asian country a Navy pilot was shot down. For next five years John McCain would be held as a prisoner of war.

Top songs on the radio as classes started “To Sir with Love”, “The Letter” and “Ode to Billie Jo”. These were not the greatest tunes for dancing, that was left to the likes of “Light My Fire” by Jim Morrison and the Doors.

Apparently television viewing was pointed toward the ‘68 Class’ parents. “The Andy Griffith Show”, “The Lucy Show”, “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.”, “Gunsmoke”, and “Family Affair” were the top five shows. All five were on CBS.

At the Yale Theater over the summer the seniors-to-be had watched the likes of “The Graduate” (very appropriate), “Cool Hand Luke” and “Bonnie & Clyde”.

Back to the Books

It was now time to settle down for some book learning and of course…fun.

Superintendent Aaron Dry and Principal Howard Rainwater welcomed students. The teaching staff was a younger one from past years. Over the past three years 17 new teachers came on to replace retiring teachers.

The only new teacher this year was Shirley Ann Callicoat. She was the sophomore English instructor.

Social science teacher and basketball coach Ray Beach wouldn’t finish the school year. He died from an automobile accident. A World War II veteran, he was 47. One of his noted characteristics was reaching out both arms and say “hear” when getting into a subject.

The Class yearbook would later be dedicated to him and fellow shop teacher Harlin Jones.

Shortly before the school year a football schedule was released. It showed the Zebras playing the same 10 teams from the year before; five at home and five on the road. Even so it didn’t keep the handout schedules listing a fan could see “all six” home games for only $6.25.

The Zebras did play only five times at Lantow Field. They finished with a 5-5 win-loss record, the same as the year before. This time, however, victories were timely and earned a conference tri-championship.

The basketball team would go on to claim a co-championship and the baseball squad a lone first-place finish.

The Zebra band members had a brand new appearance. They displayed their 90 new sparkling white marching uniforms, purchased for $8,000.

The Progress featured a front page photo of Judy Williams, Larry Melton, Mike Jennings, and Todd Gordon in the new attire along with director Jerry Lingenfelter.

Another newspaper photo had Denna Walters, Sandie Raley, and Norma and Carolyn Passmore standing beside their red and white striped car. The new detailing was for the football parade.

John Vetter was announced as a semifinalist for a 1967-68 National Merit Scholarship.

Oklahoma Military Academy was still three years away from becoming co-ed. For the Cadets’ musical comedy “The Boy Friend” it was necessary to draft some feminine help.

Claremore High’s Debbie Spicer, Janie Masters, Phyllis Long, Becky Conwall, Judy Payne, Jackie Jacobs, Gay Long, Susan Kelly and Ann Ball answered the call.

It was about this time five students from another Rogers County high school were arrested for a “…rampage of terror and vandalism.” The incident occurred at the home of their principal. Arrested and then appearing before Judge Ava Powell, one of them said the reason of the attack was because “he was tough on us.”

All five attended a northern Rogers County school. Local school officials did say one of them enrolled at CHS, but stayed only one day.

There is no denying the ladies had the smarts. Brenda Bowman, Nancy Melton and Marilyn Stellman would go to earn Valedictorian honors. Kathy Parks was Salutatorian.

Darnell Jones. Ronnie Johnson, Bobby Wadley, Mike Shelton, and Miss Parks were class officers.

The three years the ’68 Class attended high school was in the middle of the so-called psychedelic movement. A bit of this might be connected to their senior yearbook.

Over the years the annuals usually had red or white covers. One was silver and several others were various shades of maroon.

This Class wanted something different. They got it. The cover did have stripes like some before and afterwards, but not this color: Green and blue.

The yearbook, athletic events, achievements, missing classmates, and numerous other topics will be remembered as the ’68 Class comes together once more this weekend.

Welcome home, Zebras.