CLASS OF 1953: 70 years on, memories remain golden

For the Marblehead High School Class of 1953, the memories of their formative years remain as vivid as ever. At the Corinthian Yacht Club, this close-knit class recently reunited, sharing laughs, banter and updates on life.

Marblehead High’s Class of 1953 reunited recently at the Corinthian Yacht Club. Seventy years later, they’re still sharing stories and laughs over lunch. CURRENT PHOTO / WILLIAM J. DOWD

With around a dozen members in attendance, including some who traveled from as far as New York, stories flowed freely over a long lunch.

Jan Barry, formerly Jan Buckley, said, “It was a friendly class because we had such a small group, just over 100.”

Sports was a topic that resonated deeply with many. Several remembered their senior year football victory over Swampscott. William “Bill” Conly proudly recollected, “We weren’t just classmates, we were teammates. That victory over Swampscott? We beat them 32 to 0. It was a moment of sheer joy.”

Many shared a chuckle and a sigh over the long-lost hangouts of their youth. Popular hangouts included the local YMCA on Pleasant Street, where students attended dances. Crocker Park, the Warwick Theater and a bowling alley were also teen hot spots. Jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald were musical favorites.

However, amidst the nostalgia, there were moments of contemplation. Stephen Tompkins highlighted the homogeneity of their school years.

“We were in a bubble,” he said.

The classmates came of age during World War II and its local impacts, like blackout curtains in homes and painted-over street lights so as not to be spotted by enemy subs. Everything was rationed, from butter to tires. The Army occupied the lighthouse, and there were watchtowers to spot U-boats, Conly said.

Their small class produced many accomplished graduates who pursued higher education when it was less common. Some went into business or became doctors and teachers. Many forged close-knit lifelong friendships.

Teachers left an indelible mark on this class. Dorothy Miles, an English teacher, was especially memorable for many.

“She wasn’t just a teacher,” Barry said. “She was a storyteller.”

The group lamented the loss of mom-and-pop businesses like Sebastian’s restaurant on Atlantic Avenue and other local favorites now gone and replaced by condos. The hometown feel has changed over the decades as the population doubled to over 20,000 residents. But close connections from their youth remain strong.

“It feels like it was just yesterday,” said Tompkins about the seven decades since graduation.

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