On Friday, Oct. 21, the MVRHS class of 1967 held their 50th reunion at the Wharf Restaurant in Edgartown. It was a good turnout; around 25 people came from both on and off-Island. Because after all, 50 is a big one, not only a chance to reunite with old friends after a half a century, but a chance to go back and revisit another era.
We at The Times were particularly interested in these graduates’ recollections of high school life in 1967, a very transformative year. “Sgt. Pepper” had just been released, changing the face of music. Hippies were beginning to invade the Island. There was the smell of pot in the air, and the rumblings of Vietnam protest on the ground. In a way, this was a class with one foot in the ’50s and one in the ’70s. There was still an innocence to the group, but things were changing fast.
We reached out to as many of the graduates as we could, and asked them what life was like around here when they graduated. This, in their own words is what they had to say.
What effect did the assassination of J.F.K. have on you?
Two months after starting high school, President Kennedy was assassinated. That was the worst, most emotional thing that had EVER happened in my life up to then. It was dreadful, and probably twisted my psyche in some way.
The announcement came over the PA system at 1 pm approximately. The next day or so, I watched Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald.
I watched the funeral on TV, John Jr. saluting the president’s casket.
J.K.F.’s youth, humor, and obvious intelligence influenced me greatly.
I was in freshman math, and it came over the intercom. We were all silent — and the look on the teacher’s face was of devastation. We all filed out of the school onto the buses in complete silence — it was so somber and powerful. I will never forget where I was, and how powerful and moving the atmosphere was, and unforgettable the feelings were. Shocking.
What was the cool thing to have 50 years ago?
The cool thing to have 50 years ago was a transistor radio, which you could carry and listen to wherever you went and wherever you could get reception. Also you needed a record player and your 45s.
Third-generation hand-me-down car! 1950 yellow Chevy convertible.
A good stereo.
The simple life.
What would you wear on a date?
Depending on the date, I would wear either hip-hugger bell-bottoms with a wide belt or an A line dress with psychedelic colored stripes. Of course any skirts that we wore were miniskirts. If you’ve ever watched “Gidget,” I can honestly say we dressed a lot like her. Those were the times.
Flowered jeans and short-sleeved ribbed sweater.
Jeans or miniskirts.
Where did you go parking?
When we went parking, it was either at South Beach, East Chop, or State Forest.
East Chop and Gay Head.
Across from Head of the Lagoon on Barnes Road.
Vineyard Haven ball park off State Road.
Were there any good local bands?
The Bodes were a homegrown band, and they were great. They usually played at dances on Memorial Wharf in Edgartown. The original Boys’ Club also used to have dances, and for a while imported a high school boy band from Falmouth.
Paul and Mike deBettencourt had a band, playing covers, don’t remember their name.
What hit songs do you remember back in ’67?
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
“Light My Fire” by the Doors was a big hit in ’67, especially the 11-minute version, but there were SO many good songs starting in the early Sixties, especially from the Beatles! I specifically remember the first time I heard them on the radio. It was “She Loves You” (yeah yeah yeah)! I was immediately hooked!
“Goodnight My Love,” the last song played at the Boys’ Club on Saturday nights.
Did you protest the Vietnam war?
I never protested the Vietnam War. As a matter of fact, my first husband was a Vietnam veteran who saw combat.
No, too straight and a bit pre-protest days. College was the protest place.
Yes, I protested war.
Where were the good parties, and what made for a good party?
The good parties were at South Beach at the bunker, or Zack’s Cliffs up-Island.
What made for a good party? Beer, boys, cars, and sand. House parties were the bomb too!
Marky Love’s boat house on Hines Point, for one.
Hanging out at the Youth Center was also cool. We’d go there and hang out and listen to music, and now and then go out to our cars and cruise through the towns, then back to the center.
What was the best advice you got from a teacher?
Don’t know, but Mr. Knight was my favorite teacher.
Be true to yourself.
Try hard … study hard.
What did you do for prom?
Proms were all held in the school gym. We had a huge frame in the middle of the gym set up, from which we would hang hundreds of yards of crepe paper, with a crepe-paper ceiling. We all pitched in and made it happen. The theme for our junior prom was Blue Hawaii. We ordered aqua and blue crepe paper, and they sent blue and pink, which we couldn’t return because it was too late. So our prom looked more like a baby shower than Blue Hawaii!
I bought a dress, or Mother made one; had a good time, back to my house afterward for a party.
Went to prom with Susan Metell and Bruce Wayne, boring party after — should have gone to my friends’.
I didn’t go.
How big was the Nantucket rivalry?
Nantucket was ALWAYS a huge rivalry, right from the beginning!
Huge! Many felt if you beat them, your season was a success. Back then, teams would stay with families of the Nantucket teams. Unfortunately, our senior year there was an incident. [It seems there were fisticuffs, and certain Vineyarders were asked to leave the island.]
Not as big as today.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently in high school?
Are you serious? Tons.
Wish I’d had a better plan for the future.
Joined more clubs.
Wish I’d studied more and partied less.
What did you use to get high: Beer? Pot? Teen spirit?
Most of us got high on teen spirit and good old-fashioned fun back then. Pot was JUST starting to make the scene on our little Island in ’67, and not a lot of us did it.
No — we laughed constantly … did not drink or smoke, we were all square in my group. We’d ride around, Vineyard Haven and O.B., and laugh.
Beer, pot, and teen spirit.
Just driving around with friends, cruising …
Wine; tried pot — too strong. I tried a few things my boyfriend used to get high — not into it.
Beer and rum and coke.
Teen spirit, didn’t drink, smoke, or do pot, but went to sporting events.
What was the biggest difference between living on the Island 50 years ago and now?
The biggest difference on the Island 50 years ago was that it was a tight-knit community where everyone knew everyone else. There were few wash-ashores then. Big tracts of land were untouched, and there were not any trophy houses. Ah, the good old days!
Those were pre-hippie days. More of a them-and-us vibe: summer people and Islanders. Summer people came for the whole summer, and lived in their summer houses. Not so much renting. Now, more houses, people, cars, fewer wild places. The biggest celebrities in those days were Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow on a big yacht. I worked in Menemsha summers, more of an artists’ colony in those days.
So much less population. In 1967, there were 74 in our class, now classes have reached 200. Everyone in school pretty much knew who the underclassmen were. The community knew who the kids were. Football games, basketball games were well-attended.
Off-season was quiet. Summers were fun and very busy. Just not as much as today.
There were less events then. The big deal was Pete Seeger at the Tabernacle. We knew everybody then. A lot less traffic. Didn’t take a lot of money to go places and do things.
You could find a place to live on the Island then.