Do you remember Graduation 1969?

This month’s story was prompted by discovery of a document in my memorabilia trunk. It’s the programme for the grad dinner of the RSS Class of 1969, which was my final year. It reminds me of what I recognized, even at that time, as one of life’s milestones:

Did you keep your copy of the menu?


Tom Parkin


For boys not dating steady, who to ask to the dance was a major consideration. This was prior to ‘women’s lib’ (or maybe not, for females then still held the high power of “no”), so male indecision could mean elimination. I recall there being much gossip about who had asked, and who had accepted, their proposition. Did any popular girls turn down a first request in hope of a more favoured escort? Here are some of the people mentioned in this article and their pair-ups:

Bob Booth                        Heather Steed

Scott Coulter                     Chris Sabiston

Tim Dunn                          Pat Falbo

Warren Ennis                   Eileen Dunn       later married

Ron Fujino                         Val Stanley

Neville Millar                     Phyllis Mallett

Tom Parkin                        Noelle Meier

David Riley                        Loralee Nelson            later married


Group photo

Many guys got their first suit for that event. Mine was dark green and bought in Swanson’s Men’s Wear, Cranbrook, courtesy of my father. I doubt I wore it again — it’s a wonder they were even able to sell it in the first place. Warren Ennis bought his at Art’s Esquire Shop in Revelstoke. He actually got into it again for his 25th anniversary, but was so tight he couldn’t bend to tie his shoes! It was the late Art Switzer who acknowledged Neville’s toast to the parents at the dinner.

Many girls sewed their dresses in Home Economics, and didn’t they look great? A guy’s first chance to see his date was when we assembled for the class photo. In the afternoon, the gym was the site of the image which was reproduced in the yearbook, Lookout 1969.  Unfortunately the group was poorly lit by the photographer for identification of everyone, but shows a surprising 76 students; others were missing. However, standing next to Tim Dunn is Bob Booth, who didn’t actually graduate in Revelstoke, but in Ladner! Not wanting to be separated from friends on this occasion (his father, the CPR superintendent, had taken a promotion after grade 11), Bob returned to ‘the Stoke’ for our celebratory weekend, where he felt he better belonged.

Prior to departure for dinner, we guys pinned on our date’s corsage. Wanting to be different, I bought Noelle a fragrant gardenia for her wrist. I tried to find another for my recent wedding, and wasn’t able to get one here on the Island except by special order. So Revelstoke had something on the ball, even in those days.

The dinner

Following the photo, grads and their guests attended a formal dinner at Branch #46, Royal Canadian Legion. It was still quite new in those days, having been built in 1963 to replace the former building at that location, which had been lost to fire a year prior. The Photo House photographer was there as well, and took B&W shots of the dignitaries, grads, their parents, etc.

I endeavoured to contact a few names on the programme for their reminiscences, but for teachers Fishenden and Jones, this event is similar to many others which they fulfilled in their careers. Gordon Fleet has died, and Neville Millar has no recollection. He and the late Loralee Riley (née Nelson) were at the head table by dint of their positions on the Student Council.

Selected Last Wills and Testaments (delivered by Mr. Jones)

Popular English/Socials teacher David Jones was the keynote speaker. I’d love to learn who wrote the traditional last wills and testaments which he read that evening; I don’t think we wrote them ourselves. Here are those bequests of people mentioned in this story, and the story behind them:

  • Scott Coulter bequeaths his death-defying tumbles from high buildings to John Wayne’s stuntman. Scott’s amazing near-accident will be chronicled in a future column titled The Dirty Half-dozen, which will about the making of our war film of Grade 12.
  • Tim Dunn leaves his build to Charles Atlas. ‘Turtle’ and his sister Eileen were both very slender.
  • Warren Ennis avows his analytical ability to Sigmund Freud. Warren is still interested in what makes people tick.
  • Noelle Meier wills her dope customers to Donaldson’s. Meiers bought the former Revelstoke Drugs, and Donaldson’s was their competitor. Most ‘drugs’ in those days were obtained through them!
  • Phyllis Mallett wills her night out to Mrs. Jack. During a Girls Outdoor Club trip to Banff, Phyllis evidently went AWOL. She was the  daughter of the United Church minister, so really couldn’t have been too bad!
  • Neville Millar leaves his speaking ability to Arvid Lundell. Nev had won a school public speaking contest with a talk on wills and funerals. It seems to me Mayor Lundell was a poor speaker, despite having been a MLA.
  • Loralee Nelson concedes her authoritative powers to Charles de Gaulle. ‘Lou’ was 1968-69 Prez of the RSS Student Council. De Gaulle was President of France, 1959-1969, and had resigned just ahead of our celebration.
  • Tom Parkin bequeaths his stripping finesse to Gypsy Rose Lee. (As part of a grad fund-raiser, a ‘strip-tease’ was advertised to take place during a break of some performance in the gym; possibly it was evening. Some better-looking Grade 12 girls came out and tantalizingly flung off a few outer garments to bump-and-grind music. As modesty required, they stepped back and were replaced by Scott Coulter and myself, dressed as girls, and we took more off, including balloon-stuffed breasts. When we reached our red gym shorts, I thought, ‘what the hell, they’ve seen same at a beach’, and stripped to my underwear. It all seemed good fun for a good cause. But next day, all hell broke loose in the Administration. There were rumours of my suspension, and I was interrogated by Jim Fishenden on behalf of The Office. Warren Ennis threatened to organize a student walkout on my behalf. I don’t know how the complaint arose, but possibly whatever adult monitor was supposed to be in attendance was out of the room at the time, and some prissy Grade 8 complained to a mother, who then blew the whole affair out of proportion. At any rate, it all died soon enough.
  • Julie Roberts wills her big feet to a Sasquatch. Did you think I’m was really going to comment on this? She might be listening! Besides which, I hear Julie has become a writer for a much larger newspaper.
  • Valerie Stanley wills her weight to the Metracal for Lunch Bunch. Val had a naturally slender figure—still does. Metracal was a diet shake introduced in the early ‘60s, and is now defunct. This phrase was part of their advertising campaign.

The dance

As was the custom, the gym was decorated by the class graduating the year later, who also got to choose the theme. 1969’s theme was

‘submarine’, so all kinds of fantastical fish, octopi, etc. hung from the ceiling. No sports were held in the gym during this decorating time, but we were still in the school, so I recall deliberately resisting a sneak peek in hope that sweaty, utilitarian venue would be magically transformed into something beautiful. What comes back most strongly now is the air being heavily perfumed with the scent of lilacs and other garden bouquets.


Lovely ladies in gorgeous dresses upon display,

Each one lending a touch of beauty in its own way;

Each one made just for the thrill of Graduation;

And to add to the joy and wonder of that great day.

Lovely dresses in silks and satins of every shade;

Grace and beauty combined together are on parade;

They will bring fond memories lasting forever,

Lasting memories of happy moments that ne’er will fade.

by Mr. Harry Sayers

The party

After the dance, everyone headed out to parties. There must have been more than one. Most kids those mentioned here started off at Fujinos, and then attended a bush site somewhere south of the airport (Montana Slough?), where we spent the entire ritual around a campfire with many others. We were still underage (legal age was then 21), but I bought my first booze ‘bootleg’ and some student entrepreneur (who was that? — may he have gone to subsequent business success) delivered it, labelled, in advance, so to avoid seizure by any RCMP roadblock. Eileen Ennis, Warren’s girl from Grade 11, couldn’t come because her mother was on civilian staff at the RCMP office.

Various parents held breakfasts for hungry and hung over grads the next day. Warren then drove four or five of us in his Ford Galaxie to Swansea Point on Mara Lake (six miles south of Sicamous), where we idled on the beach. It seemed a long drive home, and when I hit my pillow early that evening, I’d been awake for 36 hours — still a personal record.

Reunion records

Revelstoke’s pentannual Homecoming weekend in 2009 was the 40th anniversary of  the graduating class of 1969. I attended in hopes of renewing many old acquaintances. Some of those mentioned here were present, but many others didn’t return. It was also clear many others couldn’t return because our generation is slowly coming of age: Loralee, Joyce Crooks (née Cave), Jane Godfreyson, David “Butch” Ivanauskas, Margaret Knight, Richard Mayner, and possibly others, are dead.

In the past three years, I’ve been tracking 98 people who were in our grade, or who were friends that moved away before grad, and who would be fun to see again. The latter include Bob Booth, Earl Staten, Kerry McTaggart, Wayne Scott, and others. I’ve been successful in finding about two-thirds of these folk, and have compiled a detailed Excel spreadsheet with contact points.

However, I live on Vancouver Island, and now realize the job really requires in-town talent. Since the next community Homecoming will be 2014, it would be an excellent opportunity for a committee to undertake a 45th reunion at the same time. To be effective, it should include women in particular because their gender is better at social net-working. I’m willing to turn over my data to anyone who wants to take the lead in reaching out to those yet unfound. Interested readers should contact me directly:

The Revelstoke Review — 12 June 1969
  Editorial Opinions
 A Prank Is A . . . No-No 

When is a prank not a prank? When it’s  injurious to another person’s life, liberty or  property. The “paint-in” which followed  Friday night’s grad party did no damage to  lives but it certainly injured property, and a  lot of people in this town are hopping mad,  including the mayor and aldermen – not to  mention the merchants whose premises  suffered from the spray-paint wielding  vandals.

What started out some years ago as high-spirited hi-jinks has turned into something  that just plain isn’t funny. Stores, including a  supermarket, women’s apparel shop, a beauty  salon, a shoe store, a gift shop and many  others — some just newly painted — fell victim  to the spray-painter’s “hi-jinks.”

Ironically, Sgt. J.D. Flamank of the local  RCMP detachment, was guest speaker at the  grad party. Treating the grads as “grown-ups”, he asked them to exercise their new maturity and realize their responsibilities to  the community. Apparently his words fell on a number of pairs of deaf ears.

© Tom W. Parkin 

Tom Parkin is widely-published author, photographer and Revelstoke Secondary School grad of ’69. He actually breaks rocks for a living now — as a self-employed stonemason in Nanaimo, BC. Visit his website You can contact Tom at