The year was 1970. Girls had to pay 25 cents to wear pants for one day out of the school year. Graduating boys were hoping their draft number wouldn’t be called. The ciggy-bud lady patrolled the bathrooms, with hopes of busting teens for smoking cigarettes.
Almost 50 years ago, students graduated from SRHS. Now they are grandparents and retirees. Finding people from the graduating class of 1970 wasn’t an issue. With their 50th reunion right around the corner, many people had started reminiscing on how quickly the years have passed since they were a bulldog.
Nancy Segale worked at SRHS for 18 years and was part of the class of 1970. The first thing she told me was, “You guys can’t get away with anything, and we got away with a lot.”
She would drive to school with her brother in their beige ‘66 Mustang and park in the lot. The soccer field didn’t exist; instead there was a giant dirt parking lot where students would spend their breaks.
It wasn’t very common to call home or cut class. However, it was much easier than it is now because they didn’t have the automated message system that would call your parents if you weren’t in class. People would eat lunch on the hillside behind the baseball field and every day was a traditional day.
Sue Pearlstein, another SRHS alumni, shared that the hillside behind the field had been the designated smoking area a few years before the official establishment of 420 in 1972. “Trust me, we were there,” said Nancy. You could get a brick of pot for about $10 and it wasn’t as big of a deal as it is now. The worst thing you could probably do was smoke a cigarette, and there was the famous ciggy-bud lady. The ciggy-bug lady was what the students called the lady who would bust students for smoking on campus.
Everyone took the same classes; there were no AP classes. There was a whole course dedicated to learning how to use a slide rule, which was the calculator of that time. You’d take home-ec and square dancing and didn’t really have to study for tests.
Seniors wouldn’t be stressing over college applications; if you applied to a school you were very likely to be accepted. Sue said the pressure around college was, “not anywhere like it is now.”
College of Marin was a normal option for many students and the stigma of going there didn’t exist. You’d stay local, the farthest people would go would be UCLA, and even that school wasn’t terribly hard to get accepted into.
What some members of the class of 1970 remember most about their experience here at SRHS was the social life. Everyone had their licenses. They would hang out in the Montecito parking lot and grab a slice at Pinky’s Pizza, now filled by a Chipotle. They couldn’t wait for that Friday dismissal bell to ring. Like a scene out of American Graffiti, teens would pile into their cars and cruise down 4th street.“There were massive parties out at McNears and no one would bother us,” said Nancy.
The high school football games were held at College of Marin’s football stadium, which at the time was a big deal. People from all over Marin County would come and watch. Small pins that read “Torture the Trojans” and “Split Redwood” were sold. The varsity team of 1970 ended up beating Terra Linda in their Bell Game 29-27.
Dances happened nearly every month. Everyone but the hippies went and dance moves were more routine than they are now. Rick Haenggi, a member of the graduating class of 1970, looked back on the role he played as the junior class president, “It seems like yesterday, all these 51 years ago that I arranged the Senior Ball.” Big gestures like prom-posals didn’t exist. What mattered more than your date was how well you could dance.
The war fought overseas was coming into your living room. The fear of the draft after high school was real for many young men here at SRHS. As soon as you were 18, the draft board gave you a number and if they called it, you were sent to fight. Everyone knew someone who had been sent to fight. “I remember writing letters to my friends’ brothers who were over there,” said Sue.
“It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago,” said Rick, who is currently helping plan the reunion. “but sadly what eclipses that is the number of classmates that have passed.” About 52 of Rick’s classmates have passed, including recently an old girlfriend.
High schoolers from every decade did things that they weren’t supposed to, but it’s all part of the journey. “Get it out of your system and move on,” said Nancy. She told me that high school is all about “finding your niche.” Rick said it is important to realise that we still have so much to learn, “You use the graduation point from SR as the kicking off point.”
“I can’t believe it’s been 50 years.” That’s how Rick started our interview.
Every alumni I interviewed said that life really does go by in a flash. Enjoying the little moments and making memories are super important. As we are nearing the end of our stories here at SRHS, we should savor the last few months we have together because before you know it, we will be planning our 50th reunion.