those of you who donít recognize me ― or donít
remember me ― or perhaps never knew me, Iím Howie ― Howie Levy, Oceanside High School, Class of '60.
In high school, I was not a class officer or
valedictorian; I was not a star athlete or actor in the senior play; I was not
voted best dressed, most likely to succeed, wittiest, friendliest or anything
else. (God knows I should
have been voted best
looking.) Like many of you, I was just a kid ―
interested in good times, girls, fast cars, rock íní roll and not much else ―
trying to be about as irresponsible as I thought I could get away with.
The year, 1960, was a great deal more than
just our graduation year ― the year we went our
separate ways and began our lives as young adults. It was a year of many other
beginnings. Most significantly, it was the beginning of the most turbulent,
revolutionary decade of modern times, the beginning of a new, youth-inspired
social consciousness and idealism in America. The times, they were
Before the new decade would end, our
generation would have had far reaching effects on national attitudes in such
diverse areas as civil rights, environmentalism, war and sexual freedom. We
would have seen men walk on the moon. 1960 was the beginning of a decade
of campus unrest, violent conflicts, assassinations, upsetting moral values,
intense space exploration and incredible technological development, Motown,
Beatles, Bob Dylan and psychedelic music, hippies, and a drug culture that
remains the number one social problem in our country today ―
in the 1990s.
It was "the end of tailfins, teen idols
and TV quiz shows, hula hoops and poodle skirts, saddle shoes and sack
dresses, sock hops, malt shops and Chuck Berry songs."
But as is with any other year of beginnings,
1960 was also a year of endings. Not only was it the end of our high
school days ― our innocent youth ―
the end of tailfins, teen idols and TV quiz shows, hula hoops and poodle skirts,
saddle shoes and sack dresses, sock hops, malt shops and Chuck Berry songs; it
was the end of Americaís innocence ―
Most of us look back fondly at the
"Fabulous Fifties" as an easier, happier time. But for us ―
then the teenage youth of America ― those years were
not totally carefree. The 1950s was a time when teenagers first began to
challenge the attitudes and values of their parents and the
"establishment," setting the stage for the decade to come. We
were the "James Dean generation."
But it was also a time when teenagers first
surfaced as an economic force to be reckoned with. We had a little money in our
pockets, and we wanted to spend it. American business, for the first time,
started to market to our youthful tastes ―
recorded music industry, followed closely by the movie, automobile and clothing
industries. Like all youth before and after us, we saw ourselves as the center
of the universe. But as we reflect now upon the late fifties, when we were
in high school, we can see that in many respects ―
more so than in any other time ― we, the teenagers, really
were the center of the universe.
Tonight, weíre all together again to
remember those wonderful times we spent at OHS ―
when we were together almost every day ―
together ― went through puberty together
― when we formed many of the values we now hold dear, and many of the most
intimate, precious and lasting friendships of our lives.
"... we formed many of the values we now hold dear, and many of the most
intimate, precious and lasting friendships of our lives."
There are more than half a dozen people in
this room who are still among my closest friends ―
very special people who, after all these years, are dearer to me than ever ―
people I still see often, but never often enough. There are others whom I
havenít seen in 10, 20, or even 30 years, but whom I am nonetheless happy to
see once again, tonight. I love reunions ―
love this class ― and I suspect many of you are here
tonight because you share these feelings.
Ten years ago, I described our last reunion as
"six hours of nonstop hugging. " It was great ―
and this one will be even better. We are videotaping it, so we can watch
you. Anyone caught not hugging at least 100 people tonight will not
be invited to our next reunion.
While we were in high school right here in
Oceanside, over 30 years ago, we had the greatest heroes, the coolest cars and
the best rock íní roll of all time. But most important, we had
fun. So letís welcome one another ― with hugs
― to our 1990 class reunion. Letís dance, sing along to the oldies, party and
[To hear more of "Rock Around
the Clock," go to "Prom Night."]