Well, Class of 2019, your day has arrived. We share one thing in common. For 18,262 days ago I graduated from Marshfield Senior High. If you do not care to do the math, that is 50 years ago today. Of that particular day I do not remember a lot.

MHS Class of 1969 was the first class to graduate from a new high school. I was the third person to cross the platform; that is easy to remember as it was always Aigner, Allgood then Andersen. We had two valedictorians — Judy Wenzel and Jim Knobloch.

Judy gave a traditional thank you to our community, our teachers, our administrators, and Jim informed one and all that shortly we would be blown into atoms by nuclear weapons if we did not get our act together. It was 1969 ... you had to be there.

After graduation, we went home to a graduation party and on Monday off I went. Off I went means starting the first of five summers for the City Of Marshfield Water and Light Department, the Marshfield Street Department or the City of Eau Claire Parks and Rec Department. That was an education I would always remember.

School in many ways has not changed much in 50 years. You have school lockdowns, we had duck and cover drills. Duck and cover was to “protect” us when the Russians launched a nuclear weapon at the city of Marshfield. Your lockdown drills may have been more useful than our drills, I am very sorry to say.

We had typewriter class; you have computer classes. The girls at MHS had the Girls Athletic Association (after school sports); girls now have almost all the same athletic teams as the guys do. We both had art classes, band, choir, homecoming, proms, National Honor Society, and the like. We both had FFA and Scouting. I don’t know if they give out the Betty Crocker Future Homemaker Award anymore.

We also share alcohol issues, pregnancy issues, drug issues and the traumas of growing up in a small town. Though in 1969 things were kept under wraps better than they are now. We were bullied and picked on. As one of my classmates recently told me “we were always trying to be what others wanted or expected us to be.” I don’t think that has gone away.

We had the draft and the Vietnam War — those issues do not face you at this time, but be aware the older generation likes to send kids off to war to solve issues they created. Jim’s nuclear war issue still exists, but so does Judy’s of a caring community trying to provide you the best education we could.

At this point I should proclaim some great and grand advice to you. I can’t and I won’t. Your life will unfold far different than mine did. We all make decisions that affect our lives and those around us. Your classmates will change in many ways. Be nice to them all today for some you will never see again. My generation was going to change the world. Well in many, many ways we did not do so hot. Better luck to you.

I have served on two reunion committees. Everyone I have spoken with always say they would never want to go back to school .. except perhaps to see a long ago classmate, to talk with a long ago teacher, to relive some special day or night.

Every kid at one time in their life remembers one remarkable day or event that happened to them in school. Keep that memory alive in your heart and when things look bleak remember it.

I must leave you now. Congratulations on your achievements. Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote: “Yet in our veins the blood ran warm and red / For us the fields were green, the skies were blue / Though from our dust the spirit long has fled / We lived, we loved, we toiled, we dreamed like you.”

When you have your 50th class reunion please remember the Class of 1969. As long as people remember you, life will continue on. Though we are separated by 50 years we are more alike than we know. Godspeed to you in your journey, Class of 2019. All the best to you.

Be the first to know - Sign up for Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.