One last time (probably not), MHS Class of ’43 convenes

By Bryan Richardson

One thing you could say about the Manhattan High class of 1943: The surviving members are dedicated to having a good time.

Seventy years and 13 reunions following their war-era graduation, they’re back together again. The class first reunited to mark its 10th anniversary, and has met every five years since. “When we had our 65th, we thought that was it, so we threw this big shindig,” said Miriam (Hobbs) Milleret of Manhattan. But they didn’t want it to end, so they met again two years ago. “Then we thought that was the last time,” she said.

After the second last time, class members still hadn’t had enough, which is why the Hilton Garden Inn served as host to 15 alums and their spouses for breakfast Tuesday morning. Up to 20 are expected to participate in the reunion events Tuesday and Wednesday.

As reunion attendees arrived at the hotel, they sat in the lobby exchanging stories of what they’ve been doing, their children, the surgeries they’ve had and how things have changed.

They arrived from various places in Manhattan and the rest of the state as well as Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Nebraska.

Pat Dunne of Manhattan has been to all of the reunions. “It’s stimulating to one’s mind trying to remember how they all looked before,” he said.

For help in that department, one attendee held a copy of the Blue M yearbook from 1943. The class went through a lot during their high school days; in 1940, school didn’t start until October due to a polio scare.

The MHS Alumni Mentor documented some of the tales of the 1943 era in its Summer 2013 edition;  many of the stories are related to World War II.

Among the stories: Students sold war bonds and stamps. Gasoline and tire rationing made out-of-town activities difficult. Tennis, golf and debate had to be cancelled due to shortages. Several faculty members marched off to war, and one did not return home. The “Scrap Metal Dance,” which was added at the end of the year, required donation of a pound of scrap metal as the price of admission.

Several classmates went off to war; Dunne is one of them.

The alums have lived long lives since then, and many expressed appreciation for being around for the 70th reunion. A few people tried to sort out who all died since they last met two year ago, placing the number at four. “When they show, we’re glad,” Milleret said.

During their time together, they’ll dine together, take a bus tour to see the new sights of Manhattan and visit the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

There’s no word on whether the 70th reunion is supposed to be the last time for the third time, but it’s probably a safe bet that the class will want to meet again by the end of it.

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