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Alumni recall GV class of ’37

Eileen JoyceSibley Hansen (left), Marilyn Barnardis and Lorraine Carl meet at Hansen's Grass Valley home Thursday to discuss the Grass Valley High School 65th reunion they will be attending. Below are yearbook photos of the women.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

They no longer wear their hair in the style of sirens Claudette Colbert or Rita Hayworth.

And the days of sipping sodas or malts downtown while listening to Benny Goodman records have long faded away.

But for a trio of hearty and hardy women, another watershed moment in their lives that includes those heady high school days at Grass Valley High School arrives August 17.



For then they will reunite with old friends, swapping stories now 65 years old, reminiscing and remembering the day they and 68 graduates came of age as the graduating class of 1937.

It all takes place at 2 p.m. at Christopher’s Catering, 408 Colfax Ave. in Grass Valley.




It was the Depression, still an age of innocence for three girls growing up in a town defined by its mining heritage.

And the girls, all dolled up in their floor-length dresses and nattily coiffed hairdos, seemingly enjoyed every minute of their time as debutantes, ready for the world.

“We had a class that was a class,” remarked Lorraine (Harris) Carl, 83. “We did everything together. We didn’t have a class that was, well, clicky.”

As they gathered to graduate, Sibley (Bennallack) Hansen, 82, remembers Principal Henry Speiss remarking that theirs “was a class of quality, not quantity.”

And the quality was everywhere. That year, the Miners football team won the Sierra Foothill League title, defeating Grant Union High 6-0. The class valedictorian, Juanita Hubbard, would later work to develop the atomic bomb.

Though there are only 29 members still living, Hansen, Carl and Marilyn (Evans) Bernardis, 83, know of only four members of their class they were never able to track down.

The class was fortunate to lose only one – Hansen’s brother in-law, Joe Thompson – in World War II.

It was an easier time, the trio admits.

After school, it was off to the Golden Poppy ice cream parlor on Mill Street or the nearby Blue Bird cafe. The boys were in Boy Scouts, the girls in sports or church activities. For a dime, you could visit the Strand Theater where the Del Oro now stands and see a newsreel, comic and main feature. Or you could visit the Lola Montez movie house down the street.

“It was a good life,” Hansen said.

Most walked to school, where peer pressure wasn’t an issue, though “it was hotter than the hubs of Hades in the summertime” while inside the two-story brick school, Hansen said.

“We lived in the best of times,” Bernardis said. “We had more freedoms, and didn’t have the worries they have now. I don’t remember us having any scandals at school.”

Of course, a scandal meant some girl wearing slacks.

As they prepare for their reunion, Hansen and her friends seem awed at the passage of time, sitting as they are in a home Hansen lived in as a child.

“I feel good about it, and I feel really happy that we still have so much interest in (the past),” Hansen said. “I’m amazed and glad we’ve made it this long.”

Milestones in 1937

? The Hindenburg zeppelin explodes May 6 at Lakehurst, N.J., killing 36.

? Amelia Earhart and co-pilot Fred Noonan vanish July 2 over the Pacific Ocean on their round-the-world flight.

? The New York Yankees defeat their crosstown rivals, the New York Giants, four games to one in the World Series.

? The Glenn Miller Band debuts in New York.

? The world is introduced to Edgar Bergen and the ventriloquist1s dummy Charlie McCarthy on NBC radio.

? A prototype antihistamine to treat allergies is produced.


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