Friends from the 1951 graduating class reunite in Fernie

The group of 1951 grads gathered together at the Fernie Seniors Drop In centre to catch up.          - M. Giuliano
The group of 1951 grads gathered together at the Fernie Seniors Drop In centre to catch up.       
— image credit: M. Giuliano

In April, The Free Press carried several articles by Fernie students that dealt with the good and bad points of the city and the certain problems that the tourist has to cope with when he arrives.

What I was most interested in was the prospect of adding interest to visitors, but what is it that brings travelers to a city? Perhaps advertising is the greatest force but it is the report that the person will give to their friends when they returns home that will bring more and more people to Fernie. What there is here that is worth telling to others, first and most important are the mountains, then the city itself.  “The 20th century belongs to Canada, Fernie is a small part of Canada but an important part, we can and must cash in on the prosperity,” so wrote 1951 graduate Ian Turner in the Zephyr yearbook so many years ago.

“The first phase of life has been completed, now we enter that which decides whether we will become worthwhile citizens or merely plodders on doing nothing but marking off the minutes of our lives,” wrote valedictorian Gordon Lewis. Another graduate, Bill Crabtree wrote, “From high on its thermals the west wind can see Mary Bachlet neatly attired in slacks, giving a haughty retort to some male’s well intended pun. Jack Buchanan is seen going up town to higher places of learning; it sees Sam Caravetta happily trudging up the road dragging a long string of fish and big bear carcass behind him. Dorothy Latak neatly dressed as usual, peddling her chrome plated bicycle down the main street. It hears Florence Smith saying number please? It hears Jaqueline Wyman singing She’ll be comin’ roun’ the mountain when she comes, twang, twang, twaaang, and has Bill Crabtree dreaming about a blonde skier from Banff whom he met at Whitefish. The Zephyr moves onward, leaving the graduates to their ways. They have each reached a milestone, for some it is the step before university or college, for most it is the piece of educational equipment for braving the outer world.  I hope that each will be able to attain success and satisfaction in whatever is their endeavour.”

June 14 brought several of the 1951 graduating class together for a luncheon at the Drop In Centre. Jack and Sheila Buchanan, Dorothy Latak, Florence Phillipps,  Mary Loughery,  Sam and Elsa Caravetta of Fernie,  Jaqueline and Cecil Letcher of the South Country were joined by Bill and Lynn Crabtree of Montreal  and Florence and Jim Edgar from Nanaimo. It was the first time in 60 years that these classmates were together. Florence Crabtree said she recalls working at Sarich’s grocery store (Stop and Shop) and living on Lindsay Avenue (Seventh) in the building that is now the fly shop. They were happy to be back in Fernie to visit and spend time together. Bill had his Zephyr yearbook with him and it drew lots of attention. They looked remarkable although it was six decades later. “Look at all that hair,” commented Bill of his photo, showing a fresh faced handsome teen with a full head of dark hair. Bill looks really good although that full head of hair has gone. Mary Loughery is easily recognizable as is Dorothy, Jaquie Wyman, Florence Smith, Sam and Jack.

Sixty years ago young people expressed the same thoughts about Fernie and their lives that are spoken today. Despite all the changes technology has brought into the world people’s thoughts and feelings still remain the same proving that “some things never change” although change is the only constant in the world.

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