45-Year Reunion

 
Presented to the class by 1960 Sailors Association Inc.
 

 
  Welcoming Address Part 2
by Howard B. Levy
  LI Marriott, "Re-Uniondale," New York, May 28, 2005
  

   

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The Class of 1960 was born just over fifty years ago, when we entered junior high in September 1954. Today, there are no junior high schools any more (they call them “middle schools").

As the popularity of rock ‘n’ roll music was exploding, quite coincidentally, along with our adolescent hormones and the suburban population of Oceanside and the rest of western Long Island, we learned to dance and began our socio-sexual development in those early days at OJHS, a formidable hurdle of coming of age. As we were graduated from junior high in June 1957, Principal William Helmcke inspired our confidence by profoundly assuring us that high school would “not present insurmountable obstacles,” and his expression of good wishes for our success was cautiously limited, without explanation, only to our “immediate futures.”

And while there was a “whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on” at Oceanside and other high schools in the late 1950s, we were, nevertheless, getting a first rate education. Although we were “studyin’ hard and hopin’ to pass,” high school for us, however, as it is for all kids, was much more than just an education. In fact, the education we were getting can almost be viewed as secondary (no pun intended). It was at our beloved OHS where we formed many of the values that shaped our adulthoods and, as I have said before, but cannot say enough, “many of the most intimate, precious and lasting friendships of our lives.” It was a daily social event of incredible proportions and importance, when we were always in the company of all of our most highly valued friends, great guys and gals who filled every day with the pleasure of just being around them, clearly the epicenter of our lives at the time.

When we were in school together, things were not so complicated as they are today. Despite the Cold War, the threat of Communism looming over us and the related shameful and paranoid hysteria in America that was McCarthyism, the beginnings of a violent civil rights movement in the South, and a problem with juvenile delinquency in our cities, the times were, in general, marked with simplicity and a sense of optimism, prosperity and overall well-being for most of us.

The upbeat attitude and prosperity of those times led to the growth of suburban America that we were experiencing firsthand as virtual pioneers. It led also to an unprecedented rate of technological development and frantic consumerism, the likes of which had never been seen before. That, in turn, led to intense competition for consumer dollars that drove flashy new designs in consumer products and the style that defined the decade. That style was most apparent in those cool, chrome-plated cruisers that ruled the roads. But no other time has been so closely identified with — and fondly remembered for — its high school experience and teenage culture.  We were asserting a new independence and engaging in our own revolution —  the teenage revolution — from which the world has never quite recovered.  

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