The 70th reunion, more meaningful than ever

The 70th reunion, more meaningful than ever

70threunion-webSeventy years ago, in 1941, the eighth grade class from the now-closed-but-not-forgotten St. Henry’s Catholic Grammar School in Philadelphia graduated and set forth into the next chapters of their lives.

Seven years after their graduation, in 1948, they held their first reunion at Beck’s Restaurant in Philadelphia. And a few weeks ago, on Sept. 18, the graduating class met at Cottage Green Restaurant in Philadelphia for their 70th reunion.

What was once a class of 60 is now a group of 28. At Beck’s Restaurant in 1948, dinner was $3.50 each. Now, each meal runs the classmates $18-$22 each. And not all of the 28 alumni are healthy enough to attend every year.

Vincent Blum, 84, a resident of Magnolia and a parishioner of Holy Child Parish in Runnemede, was a member of the 1941 class and came up with the original 1948 reunion with two friends, Bill Hinske of Philadelphia, and the late Joseph Halpherr.

“We hung around together from kindergarten until after graduating eighth grade,” he said. “We also kept in touch through high school.”

After graduation from St. Henry’s, the three had the idea to hold teenage dances, for the now-high schoolers.

“A lot of the Catholic parishes were having dances at their auditoriums,” Blum said. “So we went and visited our pastor, and he gave us permission to have Friday night dances at St. Henry’s Hall.”

In the meantime, they had discussions about a class reunion, and the tradition was born in 1948 at Beck’s, where classmates could remember teachers, tests, first loves and times spent in the principal’s office.

At first, the reunions were every five-10 years, but now, with most alumni between 82 and 84 years old, the reunion is held every year, with alumni coming from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and even Wisconsin.

“We lose one or two class members every year,” remarked Blum, whose wife of 32 years, Regina, died 28 years ago.

For 41 years, Blum worked as a salesman for the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. After retiring from that career, he worked as a floral designer for 21 years, until last year.

The reunions are not simply nostalgic gatherings. In 1983 more than $1,000 was donated to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Motherhouse in Reading, Pa., in appreciation of their service to St. Henry’s. Over the years, the class has donated more than $3,000.

There even is a sorority of 10-15 female alumni, who have been meeting each other once a month for the past few years, said Blum, who has a daughter and two grandchildren.

“Everybody (always) has a good time” at the reunions, says Blum. For some of the alumni, like Blum, the reunion is a time to remember the carefree days of the past, and laugh, cry, and reminisce with old friends. “What’s kept us going, is the friendships that we’ve kept up, over all these years,” he said.

Categories: Catholic School News

About Author