Class of ’69 reunion evokes memories of ‘simple days’

By Sarah Brown

Fifty years ago, humans stepped foot on the moon for the first time, thousands of people partied at Woodstock, thousands more protested the Vietnam War, and the Lebanon High School class of 1969 accepted their diplomas to head out into the world.

That same class held its 50th reunion to catch up with old friends on Aug. 16 at Boulder Falls Event Center.

Steve Goodwin remembered Lebanon life in 1969. He recalled the Dairy Queen and drive-in theater, and driving back and forth downtown in his ’56 Ford.

“Those were simple days, and you wish they were back,” he said.

When quizzed about what they remember from 1969, members of the class most often first recalled the Vietnam war.

Goodwin knew a lot of his classmates who went to the war and never returned for a chance to have kids, he said. He failed his physical twice, so was unable to go himself, but he noted he probably would have preferred to attend Woodstock than the war.

Larry Johnson’s view was a little different.

“We weren’t upset, uptight hippies that were starting to take over the United States,” Johnson said. “We really didn’t know that much, and a lot of us were gung-ho for Vietnam; we weren’t opposed to the war. But I look at things a lot differently now.”

Johnson recalled high school as a fun time.

“You forget how much fun high school was until you’re out,” he said. “We had a really bonded class. Sure, we had our characters, but who doesn’t?”

The kids of Lebanon back then were innocent in a lot of ways, he said. They came from a back-road town, and all grew up in the same neighborhoods and enjoyed the same things.

Darlene Drew recalled some high school days that she could laugh about.

“We were out parking on blueberry hill,” she said.

Nancy (Gindhart) Fentress, who recently moved back to the area since graduating, remembered being excited about getting out of high school.

“I loved it, but I was anxious to go out into the world and do something exciting. I was adventurous,” Fentress said.

More than 100 of the 300 classmates of 1969 attended the reunion and posed for group photos with their elementary and high school classes.

More big events in 1969

January: Construction of the second of the Twin Towers begins at the World Trade Center.

Jan. 12: Led Zeppelin releases its debut album and makes its first American tour.

Jan 20: Richard Nixon sworn in as U.S. president.

Jan. 30: The Beatles hold their last public performance.

Feb. 9: The first Boeing 747 commercial plane takes flight.

March 20: John Lennon marries Yoko Ono.

April 7: The first artificial heart is implanted.

June 3: The last TV episode of ‘Star Trek’ airs.

June 28: The Stonewall riots occur.

July 20: NASA’s Apollo 11 lands on the moon.

Aug. 9: Members of the Manson Family commit Tate-LaBianca murders.

Aug. 15: Woodstock festival begins.

Sept. 13: Scooby Doo debuts in the U.S.

Sept. 23: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” premieres.

Oct. 29: The first message is sent over ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.

Nov. 10: Sesame Street premieres on public television.

Nov. 15: Moratorium March protest against Vietnam is held at Washington, D.C.