MILFORD HIGH SCHOOL ALL CLASS REUNION
   

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Class of 1955 Memories
 
 
 

What do you remember about your high school days and era while attending Milford High? Send us your pictures, stories and general recollections to: mhsallclass2018@gmail.com

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CHANCES ARE THAT IF YOU are a Milford High graduate  then you remember the Taylor Library as a real library, albeit a very crowded one at that. Home to the Milford Chamber of Commerce since 1977, the stone laden Taylor Library building was gifted by Henry Augustus Taylor and constructed on a prime downtown corner owned by the town. The Taylor Library opened on Feb. 2, 1895, and the junction of Broad and River streets was widely known as "Library Corner," where teenage boys and others liked to congregate.  The bars and pool halls were added attractions. The Taylor Library closed in 1976 when the new Milford Library opened at a "Head of the Harbor" address just down the road on New Haven Avenue. off Fowler Field. 




AS THE 20th CENTURY dawned, Milford remained a rural town, family farms doting the landscape to the west, north and east of a downtown hub that included an  inland harbor, retail stores, the churches, schools, the largest municipal "Green" in CT, a U.S. post office, police, the courthouse and other business and municipal offices that populated the two Broad streets, River Street, Daniel Street, New Haven Avenue and Prospect.

THE GREAT DEPRESSION from late 1920s through the 1930s impacted on Milford much as it did the rest of the United States. Many people were unemployed. Bread lines prevailed. Babies were wrapped in blankets with no clothes underneath because parents could not afford them. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932 and after handling a major banking crisis upon entering office in March 1933, he introduced "The New Deal," and the U.S. economy showed signs of improvement.

MILFORD TEENS MADE their own fun. Washington Field was available for sport activities. Depression kids did not have much money to spend on frivolous activities. They had to buy their own schoolbooks. A trip to the local movie theater was a special and occasional treat. Shirley Temple and the movie version of Margaret Mitchell's book, "Gone With the Wind," became box office favorites. ("Frankly, Scarlett, I didn't go to Milford High.")

THE HURRICANE OF 1938 was reportedly the first major hurricane to hit New England since 1869, when storms were not named. There was virtually no warning that a storm spawned off the coast of Africa would head across the Atlantic Ocean and eventually come to harm the CT shore, and many other places in New England. It came ashore as a category 3 storm with the eye passing over Long Island and the Sound on its way to CT. Although Milford's shoreline and area along the Housatonic River were hard hit, beach towns east of New Haven and inland communities along the Connecticut and Thames rivers suffered even worse devastation and destruction. The Hurricane of '38 was estimated to have killed between 682 and 800 people and damaged more than 57,000 homes, all told. Until Superstorm Sandy visited us in 2012, the Hurricane of 1938 held the record for the worst natural disaster in Connecticut's history.

MHS CLASS OF 1941 MEMORIES

- Shared by Patricia Kingsbury Damon

 

Most of our classmates were born in 1923; we considered ourselves “Depression Kids” and learned the value of money - “have or have not” - at an early age.  

I was born at home in Devon and like others my age more or less stayed in my residential neighborhood. Walking to Devon Grammar School and meeting children from other neighborhoods considerably expanded my horizon. But I still was not aware of Milford’s many, many square miles until meeting classmates from places like Woodmont, Morning Side, Point Beach, Pond Point, Bayview, Milford Center, Fort Trumbull, and West Shore beaches.   

Entering that HUGE YELLOW BUILDING was awesome!

Our principal, Fredric S. Gorham, and vice principal, Margaret F. O’Connor, were respected leaders and remained in those positions until end of June 1953. 

As freshman, bewildered and green, my friends and I (The Devon Girls) closely bonded and slowly accustomed ourselves to the new rules and regulations. As Sophomores, we experienced the hurricane of 1938 and learned to help those whose homes were damaged to remove debris and resume a normal life.  

As June approached we stressed over exams and looked forward to becoming upper- classmen.  Juniors!  What an achievement!  We established a Student Council, as well as planned and held an outstanding and long-to-be- membered Halloween Dance.  Our Junior Prom was a source of great anticipation and enjoyment. 

Senior Advisers Winifred Swift Davidson, Ruth Eleanor Doe, Mary Izette Pollard, Paul E. Krause, Harry Jenson, and William Donald Rice were truly dedicated to our educational and social activities.

Although news from Europe seemed to bother our parents, our class officers:  Charles Kilbey (President), Vincent Green (Vice President), Ernest Piazza (Treasurer), and Betty Carlough (Secretary) served with distinction in leading committees and encouraging classmates to concentrate on studies, participate in social events, pass exams, and graduate. 

As a result, Our Senior Prom, Class Night Banquet, etc. will never be forgotten by those attending. We will forever be remembered as the chosen ones to receive Milford High School training during the turbulent years of Depression, disaster and threats of world war. 

T-BOWL DUCKPIN LANES

MOVIES AT THE CAPITOL THEATER, 5-cent sodas at Mitman's, ice cream sundaes at Milford Pharmacy, candy from Ross', comic books from Izzie's, ice skating on the duck pond in winter, hanging out at any of Milford's many beaches, roller skating in Walnut Beach and duck pin bowling were among the popular activities with Milford teens in the 1940s, '50s, '60s and some beyond.

Some say downtown Milford has never been the same after the loss in the 1990s of The Capitol Theater on Daniel Street, although Rich & Lynn Conine and a little place called Stonebridge restaurant has made a nice run at it! In fact, Stonebridge has become the gathering site of some officially organized class reunions and also informal and impromptu Milford High "gatherings" for a number of years now. The theater was razed in 1998 and many still miss the balcony, sneaking in the side doors, and especially the popcorn. ("Extra butter, please?")

"GETTING AROUND" COULD BE difficult for many, especially for youth without "wheels." Trolley tracks from Woodmont to downtown, then west up Seaside Avenue and down East Broadway along the beaches.  Ft. Trumbull Beach, Silver Beach, Myrtle Beach and Walnut Beach Park were attractions. But decades later at Walnut Beach Park, the site of the former tourist destination was but a run-down and abandoned shell of its former glory. Redevelopment of the entire area started in the 1960s - and continues today.

AT THE TIME OF THE Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941 that ushered America's entry into World War II, Milford had remained a fairly quiet, small shoreline town with a considerable number of summer-only residents along the beaches from Woodmont to Milford Point.

BUT WITH WORLD WAR II raging in Europe and now in the Pacific for the U.S. after Pearl Harbor, civilian life "state-side" began to drastically change. Milford men, women and boys went to war while some housewives left the kitchen to work outside the home. "Rosie the Riveter" became a world famous force, depicting survival, determination, and female resolve. While some men were drafted and many others volunteered into military service, others became employed in area factories. Some MHS students left school and enlisted in the armed forces; those who survived were invited to return to MHS and complete their high school education following the surrender of Japan in August 1945 after the dropping of two atomic bombs ended the war. Many graduates alive today remember the celebrations in town at the announcement of V-J Day.

IN 1944, THE GREAT ATLANTIC  hurricane battered Milford. It was an extremely large and intense storm that coursed up the Atlantic coast passing New York City with winds at 130 mph. It made landfall near Port Judith, R.I., as a category 3 storm and passed just south of Boston before heading out to sea. Because of aircraft reconnaissance, and improved tracking and communication systems, the death toll on land was limited to 46 persons. However, the storm wreaked havoc on WW II shipping, causing five vessels to sink and bringing the full death toll to 390. The most significant storm impact on CT was from high seas and heavy rainfall causing lost pleasure boats, fallen trees, and downed electric wires. Some areas of Milford were without power for 10 days and more. Overall, the 1944 storm was estimated to have done one-third the damage of the 1938 hurricane.

PAUL'S HAMBURGER STAND opened "way out" on the Post Road on U.S. 1 in 1946. It was quite a walk from the public bus lines serving Milford, but gave local teens a new place to hang out. It closed in 2008 and remains missed. ("A cheeseburger and a chocolate milk shake, thanks!"

Speaking of burgers, how could Henry's afford to sell a burger for 5 cents in the late '60s? You know, across the street from Grand Union and King's.

WHAT ELSE HAPPENED IN THE 1940s?

  • Stone age cave paintings were discovered in France
  • The Jeep was invented
  • Mt. Rushmore was completed
  • Silk stockings were not available; colored leg paint took their place
  • T- shirts were introduced .... first only to replace undershirts
  • The Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb first began 
  • Ball point pens went on sale
  • FDR died in office; Harry S Truman stepped into his presidential shoes
  • Bikinis were introduced in the U.S.
  • Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier
  • The Polaroid camera was invented
  • The Big Bang Theory of the creation of the universe was introduced

MEANWHILE, THE ZOOT SUIT BECAME some men's most prized clothing possession after the war when wearing the GI-issue was the fashion of the war era.

BUT THE PEACE AFTER THE WORLD WAR did not last long, either, as the Korean War began in the early 1950s with repercussions that remained well into the new century. Meanwhile, Russia set off its first atomic bomb in 1949, and who remembers "Duck and Cover?"

IN THE POST-WORLD WAR II ERA during the "Cold War" against Russia, Milford High School students were among the volunteers who manned a civil defense air-spotting station. Earlier during the war, the Milford High School (Yellow Building) roof was manned on the lookout for Nazi Germany air raid bombers.

TO MANY, LIFE IN THE '50s REMAINS synonymous with conformity and conservative values. Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, I Love Lucy and other family oriented television "sit-coms" portrayed more "traditional" housewife roles. Meanwhile, new inventions like automatic washing machines, electric dryers, frozen food, Tupperware, plastic food wrap, instant oatmeal, velcro, iron-on tape, fast food restaurants, and charge cards made it easier for women to "keep house" and work for a paycheck elsewhere.

SOME ALSO CONSIDER the '50s a "Golden Era." Others coin it, "America's Favorite Decade." However, the '50s were not free of fear or violence;  the Cold War and The Korean Conflict kept drafting of young men into the armed forces a formidable cloud of uncertainty. Children continued to have air raid drills in school and listen to discussions regarding the pros and cons of building a bomb shelter in the back yard.

THE '50s ARE ALSO KNOWN FOR the first Peanuts cartoon, McCarthy's communist witch hunt, discovery of DNA, and a totally new concept in amusement parks - DISNEYLAND. The decade also saw the construction and opening of the Interstate Highway System in America, most notably in Milford when the opening of I-95 in 1958 cut through the heart of the city and changed its landscape forever.

In September 1951, the new MHS building welcomed its first freshman class

MRS. WALSH'S 1951 FRESHMAN HOME ROOM (PHOTO BY FRED GRUBE JR.)

Above left, the first dedicated to education-only Milford High School, was opened in 1908.  Above right, the "new" Milford High School first opened its doors in 1951.

THE JUKE BOX FOUND IN EVERY soda fountain, tavern, and diner as well as many restaurants kept names like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Dinah Shore, Doris Day, Mario Lanza,Johnny Ray, Elvis Presley, Teresa Brewer, Patty Page and RosemaryClooney common words in every teen's vocabulary. 

THE INTRODUCTION of 45 and 33 1/3 RPM records changed the world of home phonographs for decades.

JUKE BOX SATURDAY NIGHT and "Lucky Strike's Hit Parade" transitioned pop music from radio to a 1950s marvel, television.

THIS PHOTO, ABOVE, OF THE "53" / "54" edition of MHS "7 JACKS" featured from left-to-right: Jack Van Raaphorst on drums, Rob Lutostanski on sax, Don Miller on bass, Bob Chapell on sax, Jeannette DiBiase at the piano, Howie Friess on trumpet and soloist Barbara Clark.

THE "7 JACKS," INITIALLY FORMED in 1952 by Mr. Edward Pascale, MHS music department chairman, continued through the '50s and '60s. The group of changing juniors and seniors offered talented students an opportunity to expand their marketable potential. As a bandleader, music teacher, and mentor, Mr. Pascal felt playing at school dances and assemblies in the "Lester Lanin Style" could give students an age appropriate venue.  According to Bob Chapell "55," members of the "53"/"54" version of "7 Jacks" each earned $7 to play at school functions. Each Friday morning a larger ensemble, the MHS ORCHESTRA, played at weekly assembly.  

IN RECENT TIMES, MHS "55" Bob Chapell continues to play the sax in retirement. He and friends are "The Jazz Express," periodically can be seen in Stuart, FL, at the Stern House, AKA "Getting Crabby."

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THE 1950s USHERED IN more hurricanes that battered the east coast from Florida to Maine. Milford was hit hard time and time again by these severe tropical storms.

THE NAME "HURRICANE" became the common way to identify a tropical cyclone. Since 1953, these Atlantic disturbances have been named from lists orginated by the National Hurricane Center. Storms are given names to avoid confusion when more than one is being followed at the same time.

The Plymouths basketball team consisted of MHS students. Left to right, kneeling, Jack Katrick, Doug Brown and Bob Crego. Standing, left to right, Vinny Gloria, Rod Foote, Coach Pete Carroll, Bob Gregory and Michie Ruoss. Looks like the old CGS gym, or third floor Yellow Building?

Tell us by email: mhsallclass2018@gmail.com.

The Kingston Trio, top left, was among the first groups to engage teens in folk music in the 1950s, with others including Peter, Paul & Mary, top right, Pete Seeger and later in the '60s The Mamas & The Papas also provided a different sound from Rock 'n Roll.

OF COURSE, FEW WILL DENY that Rock 'n Roll was the major emerging musical influence in the 1950s, with Buddy Holly & The Crickets, top left, and The King - Elvis Presley, topping the charts, along with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers and others.

AS THE 1950s GAVE WAY TO THE 1960s, performers and composers of popular music further introduced social commentary into their craft, specifically addressing youth discontent, rebellion and the many challenges that defined the era. And what more contrast could there be as seen in the two photos, above? At left, astronaut and later U.S. Senator John Glenn shows President John F. Kennedy his Mercury orbiter as Kennedy pledged America would walk on the moon by the end of the decade. Sadly, at right, this iconic photo shows young "John-John" Kennedy saluting as the casket bearing his slain father's body passed by during a grim late November afternoon in 1963.

MILFORD ENJOYS an ambudance of natural resources including the longest coastline in Connecticut. In the 1960s, an intensive dredging project provides tons of new sand to restore East Shore beaches in Milford, and "Woodmont on the Sound" is regenerated as a summer vacation destination. Meanwhile, at Silver Beach, the state announced a plan to create a state park there, which did not sit well with one discontented East Broadway resident, Doris Gagnon.

Vietnam - Remembering Milford's Fallen

AN ESCALATING WAR in Vietnam, protests, civil rights for all citizens, and tragic deaths of prominent leaders all contributed to 1960s being dubbed an age of violence. As objections against the war grew as the decade of the ‘60s wore on, Milford and its high schools lost sons, brothers and former classmates - ages 18 to 21 - from 1967 to 1970: Richard Douglas Conklin (19, top left), Paul Joseph Braun (19, top second from left), Robert Charles Nelson (19, top third from left), Henry Michael Sarmento (20, top right), Jeffrey Raymond Maloney (21, bottom left), William John Bannon Jr. (18, bottom second from left), Thomas Daniel Tighe (21, bottom third from left) and Clifford E. Parsons Jr. (21, bottom right), all later memorialized with their names etched on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and not forgotten. NOTE: Please email us service names missing from this memorial page (mhsallclass2018@gmail.com). 

Civil rights advocate, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., led a large and peaceful march on Washington, D.C.

STUDENTS IN THE 1970s HAD TO DEAL with a changing environment from the oil crisis and waiting in line to get gasoline, to being able to purchase illegal drugs right in school. The hippie culture was still evident in the early 1970s, and some of that style permeated mainstream fashion. Bellbottoms and long hair were very common. So were polyester clothing and crocheted ponchos. The "Law and Order" and "Peace with Honor" presidential administration of Richard M. Nixon came crashing down in scandal in 1974, followed by Gerald Ford and then Georgia peanut farmer Jimmy Carter. in the White House. 

AS IN PREVIOUS DECADES, DURING the 1970s, fads came and went - leisure suits, pet rocks, and a Dorothy Hamill haircut to name a few. Hamill was the 1976 Olympic champion and 1976 World champion in ladies' singles figure skating.  One of "Charlie's Angels" - Farrah Fawcell - spawned a "feathered" hair style that kept reinventing itself. And in 1972, feminism of another sort came to the fore, with Title IX of the Education Amendment Act's passage prohibiting discrimination based on sex in all educational programs and activities that were federally funded.

THE MUSIC OF LED ZEPPELIN, The Eagles, Pink Floyd and Chicago was temporized by vastly different notes and sounds from Marvin Gaye, Donna Summers and the Bee Gees, among others. Disco music and dancing reigned supreme and who can forget John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever"? Some 1970s inventions that would change life in the U.S. for generations to come included the floppy disk, word processing, VCR, cell phones, laser printers, and the MRI body scan in medicine.



Some Other Happenings In 1983

  • The U.S Embassy is bombed in Beirut, killing 63 people
  • Hurricane Alicia hits the Texas coast, killing 22
  • A 5.2 earthquake hits central New York
  • Richard Noble sets a new land speed record of 633.468 mph, driving Thrust 2 at the Black Rock Desert, Nevada
  • President Ronald Reagan proposes the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as "Star Wars"
  • Lotus 1-2-3 software is released
  • U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger is launched on its maiden flight
  • Microsoft Word is first released
  • The first person to receive an artificial heart (Barney Clark) dies after 112 days
  • Swatch introduces its first watches
  • The final episode of M*A*S*H airs ...  a record 125 million watch
  • Cabbage Patch Dolls are sold in shops and become a huge success
  • MILFORD HIGH SCHOOL CLOSES AFTER 141 YEARS IN EXISTENCE

And A Timely Message Now That Our High School Is Gone ...

'WALKING DISTANCE'

NOSTALGIA IN THE DIGITAL AGE
                                                               - Submitted in 2008 By Eugene Lisansky ('72)
 

In his 1959 Twilight Zone episode “Walking Distance,” Rod Serling waxed nostalgic for a childhood of carefree summer days and carousels in upstate New York.  Nearly half a century later, we return to our hometown of Milford Connecticut for a celebration of memory, and exploration of our collective past.

Unlike Serling’s character, Martin Sloane, who pursues his younger self and is reminded by his erstwhile father that we get, “One summer to a customer,” there is little mysticism in our journeys here today. You came by plane and by train and by car, guided by e-mail and your PDA and perhaps a GPS, using high technology to locate the exact spot on Earth where our past lives converged.

But by the 1980s when Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders sang, “My City was Gone,” the Milford High School we knew had vanished, to be replaced by government offices, our lockers entombed behind new walls like so many casks of Amontillado. Those lockers that once held books and lunch, fear and hope, and oh, so many secrets.

Once again, technology comes to the rescue, as Internet search engines and e-mail allow the MHS diaspora to connect more easily than ever. But regardless of the method, pony express or online people-search, we still find each other somehow, and relish the precious collective memories of our high school days in Milford. Whether by telegraph or by text message, the words are the same: Don’t be a stranger.

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER? See it on this web page. Email your photos and memories to: mhsallclass2018@gmail.com.