Reunion seizes the ‘Happy Days’

Ermelindo Puente, class of '65 graduate and Gilroy planning

The Gilroy High School

Happy Days Reunion of the 60’s II

was an opportunity to reconnect and enjoy the love of seeing old
friends again.
The Gilroy High School “Happy Days Reunion of the 60’s II” was an opportunity to reconnect and enjoy the love of seeing old friends again.

The smiles on each face as they recognized each other said it all at the Sept. 11 reunion at Gilroy Gardens.

Cries of exultation filled the air as they hugged each other. “Diane, is that you?” “I can’t believe it. Where do you live now?” “What is Bob up to?” “Tell Joan I said ‘Hi!’ ”

The event encompassed the classes of 1959 to 1970.

Event chair Danny Mitchell put into words what many felt: “It was if you just saw your old friend last week and you immediately picked up where you left off 30-40 years ago. Yes, most of us have a few more wrinkles, a few more pounds, a little less hair and it’s turning gray. But nobody cared about that. We just truly enjoyed each others’ company, even if for only a little while.”

As 850 former classmates gathered at Gilroy Gardens to catch up on each others’ lives, the event was universally described as a resounding success.

“A success in that we accomplished our goal of gathering old friends together again for a fun and enjoyable time,” Mitchell said. “Our purpose was that simple.”

The day began with about 35 participants enjoying a friendly golf tournament, and continued with a classic car show and competition. Later, classmates reminisced at a memory lane display of photos from the past. They also spent time together at an “In Memoriam” walk which gave tribute to those classmates who had already passed on. Guests could view photos of classmates in an outdoor garden setting with the soothing sound of a fountain nearby. A memory book was available for writing thoughts about old friends.

But everyone agreed it was the tribute to veterans and a 9/11 recognition that was the most moving.

“It wasn’t just the veterans who were tearing up,” Loretta Ventura said. “When veteran Ernie Alvarez gave tribute and the honor guard marched, there was hardly a dry eye anywhere.”

“The ’60s were an era of love,” Anna Miller said. “And that’s what tonight is all about.”

Molly Sacco Hale and Stephanie Lee, both class of ’67, were beaming with joy as they spent time catching up after 33 years.

“We knew each other as little kids,” Lee said.

Donald Azevedo and Gary Walker reconnected while admiring the classic car collection on display. Azevedo had just fired up his 1911 “horseless carriage,” a vehicle with the body of an horse-drawn carriage equipped with one of the first forms engines rather than literally running on horsepower. Walker, class of ’67, and Azevedo, class of ’70, were neighbors who grew up together.

“I had an enormous crush on his sister,” Walker said. “Maybe I still do.”

Azevedo’s family are classic car buffs who have restored cars since 1962 and own 22 Model T Fords.

But the memory Azevedo and Walker were most enjoying recalling was of the time in high school when they decided to ride their 10-speed bicycles all the way from Gilroy High to the Pinnacles National Monument. Unfortunately, Azevedo’s pedal broke off, but they were resourceful. They forced a bolt out of a road sign and reattached the pedal long enough to make it home. There were a lot of laughs as the two told old stories.

“If I can say one thing, it is, ‘Always attend your reunions. You may not care about seeing anyone, but someone may care about seeing you,’ ” Lynn Hennessee-Cordia said, chairperson for the class of 1969.

“I saw people I’d never see any other way,” Ventura said with a smile on her face.

“What did I like most about it?” Beverly Mitchell considered the question for no more than a split second before answering: “Everything!”

“Oh my gosh. It was unbelievable, I had a blast!” Hennessee-Cordia said. “Everyone I spoke to said they didn’t want it to end, and neither did I.”

Fragrant flowers were in bloom, the weather was perfect, and everyone was casually dressed, with a few tie-dyed and hippie outfits to be seen here and there. Former classmates provided great music throughout the evening in the outdoor setting, beginning with John Garcia on guitar. The only complaint anyone had was that it ended too early.

“The best compliment we heard is ‘When are we going to do this again?’ So, mission accomplished,” Mitchell said.

He reminded those at the reunion it was Mother Teresa who said, ‘People who love each other fully and truly are the happiest people in the world. They may have little, they may have nothing, but they are happy people. Everything depends on how we love one another.’ ”

“It’s really how we all feel,” Hennessee-Cordia said. “I can honestly say that the GHS classes of 1959-1970 love each other.”

“We are meeting next Wednesday at Sunrise Cafe to go over things, and get started on planning for the next reunion.”

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