Some of the first baby boomers, already witnesses to so much American history, are marking another milestone this year during the 50th reunions of their high school graduating classes.
Last weekend it was Classen High School’s turn as members of the class of 1964 looked back and marveled at their journey the past half-century. Before it was the Classen School of Advanced Studies, Classen High School was one of the older, established schools in Oklahoma City.
Last week’s gathering at Abuelo’s restaurant in Bricktown was in a way like most reunions, as former students caught up with old friends and relived the past. Yet there was a feeling this group was special, seeing many extraordinary changes.
The class of 1964 was the first baby boomer class to graduate. Baby boomers are considered the generation born between 1946 and 1964 in post-World War II America. They are credited, some say blamed, with redefining traditional values and having a major impact on the culture.
The official Classen T-shirt noted 1964 as the year the Beatles came to America from England, bringing a seismic shift to the pop music landscape.
Jim Hampton and Mike Reaves have a friendship that spans more than five decades. For them, there has been one significant event over the years.
“It would have to be desegregation,” said Hampton, an Oklahoma City financial consultant. “We had one of the last classes without black students.”
They were part of a system they said had “always been that way” and was generally not questioned. Later, when Reaves went to Oklahoma City University, he had minority classmates. By the end of the 1960s, Classen and other Oklahoma City schools were court-ordered to desegregate.
“It (having integrated classes) was great,” said Reaves, a violinist with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic orchestra.
Both said another positive development has been Oklahoma City getting an NBA team. Neither would have predicted it years ago.
“The Thunder’s been wonderful for Oklahoma City,” Reaves said.
Effects of Vietnam
No discussion of the 1960s would be complete without a mention of the Vietnam War. The Classen class of 1964, with 192 graduates, lost a popular class member, Robert Henderson, in the southeast Asian war. He was killed in action in Cambodia in 1970 — at that time the 981st Oklahoman to die in the conflict and 154th from Oklahoma City claimed in the war.
Continue reading this story on the...