By LANCE ARMSTRONG Valley Community Newspaper writer
A group of 57 people recently congregated inside the Dante Club on Fair Oaks Boulevard to celebrate a milestone in local high school history – the 70th reunion of the January and June classes of C.K. McClatchy High’s Class of 1942. Thirty-four of the attendees were members of these classes.
The 1942 McClatchy High yearbook described the January Class of 1942 as “small, but mighty.”
And certainly these same words could be used to describe the enthusiastic 1942 graduates who gathered together at the Dante Club during the afternoon of Wednesday, June 13.
The event began with much mingling among those friends who kept in touch and those who had to catch up on details from the years that they had lost contact with one another.
The buzz of the lively conversations continued through a served chicken meal and dessert.
The event begins
As the schedule moved to the program segment of the event, the emcee Dolores (Silva) Greenslate of the June Class of 1942 stood before the crowd, which sat in small groups at eight tables.
At the center of each of these tables was a red and white flower arrangement in a tall, red plastic beer mug with the abbreviated word, “grad,” running vertical along one side in large letters. Hanging out of the mug was a small, plush lion representing the school’s mascot, Leo.
The person or couple sitting at a table with the largest number of great-grandchildren would later be given the arrangement, mug and plush lion in recognition of this notoriety.
Also adding to the McClatchy school colors theme were white table cloths and red, cloth napkins.
After a little work to silence the buzz of the sharing of 70 years – and in some cases more – of memories, Dolores Greenslate presented a welcoming speech to the attending alumni and guests. She also acknowledged June 1942 graduate Art Rinetti, who was a member of his class council and was unable to make the reunion due to health issues.
Those in attendance
In addition to Dolores Greenslate, members of the 1942 classes in attendance at the reunion were: Minerva (Kattenhorn) Bruner, Stanley Chun, Clancy (Schierts) Determan, Ed Drennon, Dorothy (Ferrick) Dunkle, Kenneth Garcia, Lauretta (Purcell) Geremia, Rich Gilmore, Della (Gomes) Garibaldi, Mariel (West) Green, Norm Greenslate, Harvey Holm, Walt James, Claire (Schluer) Johnson, Betty (Anderson) Kiene, Peggy (Kneeland) Kinney, Fred Kirchubel, Carol (Wykoff) Laquaglia, Eunice (Christensen) Locke, Arleen (Matson) Lotta, Jo (Licursi) Loverde, Gerald McJenkins, Don Odgers, Muriel (Hopkins) Paine, Barbara (Cross) Petrotta, Dolores (da Roza) Pierce, Rudy de Polo, Tommie Lew (Wallace) Rider, Mary Iris (Smith) Ryder, Richard Schultz, Pat Symons, Betty (Lyles) Townsend and Nelda (Thomas) Valiska.
The January class
As a further indication of the veracity of the 1942 yearbook’s “small, but mighty” description of the January class, at the reunion, the January class was only represented by three people – Drennon, Garcia and Kinney.
During his time at McClatchy, Drennon was a lineman on the football team, a member of the Block M Society and he worked in the school’s cafeteria.
Garcia was a member of the Saber and Chevrons Society and the Carnival Committee and Kinney was the class secretary, a graduation usherette in 1941 and she had a role in the senior play, which was a ghost story, called “A Murder Has Been Arranged.”
Kinney also played an important role in the recent reunion as its co-chair. The other co-chair was Dolores Greenslate, who is the only McClatchy alumni to be a member of every reunion committee of the classes of 1942.
Speeches and memories
As part of her reminiscent speech about the January and June classes’ experiences at McClatchy High, Dolores Greenslate shared her amazement with how members of these classes had come together 70 years after graduating from the school.
Although she noted that she still spends time with some of her old classmates, Petrotta, who grew up at 2975 32nd St., where she was raised by her parents, Howard and Josephine Cross, enjoyed seeing classmates that she had not seen for many years.
“Some of (the graduates) I haven’t seen for a while – the guys especially,” said Petrotta, whose father owned and operated an automobile repair garage on Franklin Boulevard for more than a half a century.
Petrotta also mentioned that when she was a majorette at McClatchy, she made her own skirt.
“We had to make (the skirts) long, because we weren’t allowed to wear them short, but when we went on the field, we rolled them up,” Petrotta said.
Bruner, like many McClatchy students of the era, walked to school.
“I had to walk all the way from Mead and Wentworth (avenues) to McClatchy every day, rain or shine,” Bruner recalled. “I got to typing class one day – that was my first class – soaking wet. We had a typing teacher named (Mrs. Dorah) Tuttle. She said, ‘You go over there and sit by the window, where the heater is, so you can dry off.’ We also had a great gym teacher, Miss (Nell) Flanders. And of course, Arleen Matson (Lotta) and Della (Gomez Garibaldi) and I and a few other of these gals were the ones who would play out in the hockey field.”
One of the familiar sights of every reunion of this class is the presence of de Polo, Chun, Pierce and Norm Greenslate, who grew up near one another and attended school together from kindergarten through high school.
They began their schooling at William Land Elementary School at 1116 U St., then went to California Junior High School at 2991 Land Park Drive before spending their final three years together at McClatchy.
Members of the McClatchy classes of 1942 began attending this now-longtime institution at the beginning of only the third school year in its history.
Prior to this time, the city’s only high school was Sacramento High School.
It took very little time for these schools to become cross-town rivals in sports.
Norm Greenslate, who was known for his success as a batter, was the captain of the baseball team, which ended the 1942 season with an 8-3 win against the Dragons of Sacramento High. Other star hitters on the team were Wes Kelly, Al Gianelli and Harvey Ward.
Also playing on the baseball team were James, who was an infielder, and Odgers, who was an outfielder.
And as previously mentioned, Drennon played on the football team, which also included All-City team left tackle, Bob Geremia.
More Personal remembrances close the evening
Being that these students attended McClatchy during wartime, activities at the school at that time included folk dancing in the courts for morale, bandaging in first aid classes and a visit from a former student who had become a U.S. Army bombardier.
And of course, the most popular senior year event for many members of the classes of 1942 was the Senior Ball, which was held at the Memorial Auditorium.
Also adding to the 70th reunion was Lotta’s speech and readings from her old junior high autograph books.
Lotta, who had perfect attendance in school from the time she was in kindergarten through her years at McClatchy, brought a cordless microphone around the room, allowing alumni to share some of their own memories.
In summarizing McClatchy High during his time at the school, de Polo, who grew up at 1225 T St., said, “(McClatchy) was a good school, clean, a lot of fun, a lot of sports and it had very, very good students with no problems or anything like that and the teachers were good.”
Additionally, de Polo mentioned McClatchy’s first principal, Sam Pepper, who was very popular and well respected among the school’s students.
Dolores Greenslate said that although many people had to have assistance in making it to the 70th reunion, her classmates hope to attend another reunion in five years.
“At the very end (of the reunion), when we all had to part, I said, ‘This was the finish of our 70th reunion and we’ll see you back here in another five years for our 75th (reunion),’ and they all smiled and sort of cheered.”