Like all classes before and since, the class of 1947 was a product of its times. Prosperity in American was returning after WWII by the time the class of 1947 graduated. There were about 95 students in the class, and the explosion of the suburbs was underway. The area around Godwin would grow rapidly for another ten years or so, and Godwin classes would peak at about 200. Many of the graduates in the class of 1947 were veterans. Some would later serve in the Korean "conflict." ( After WWII it appears that people didn't call wars wars any longer. )
Most students would still be able to find life long employment at places like GM, an opportunity already gone in 2004. A smaller US population still meant that many people could own both houses and cottages on the many lakes around Grand Rapids. This too is all but impossible for most in 2004. So in some ways the opportunities available to the class of 1947 were unique, and many now enjoy pensions, Social Security, and other government benefits that will likely not be sustainable longer term. This is true for most classes between about 1945 and 1960.
The "Cold War," would emerge in the late 1940s, and the contest between the US and the USSR over which forms of government made more sense would last until 1991. Fortunately the Cold War remained mostly cold. Large amounts money were spent by both sides on national defense, but in spite of this the 1950s and 1960s were generally some of the most properous times in US history. While no graduating class knows with any certainty what lies in front of it, in general the future was bright for the class of 1947.
Changes of other sorts were in the wind by 1947. Television would emerge as the first major new medium since radio, and it would change many things about how Americans lived. Theaters and drive ins, and the movie industry, would fade for a time being, as people stayed home instead. People of all ages would begin to spend more time watching TV than doing more productive things. And of course the migration from the city to the suburn became a stampede, and the cities themselves began to decay. By the late 1950s it would no longer be possible to take the bus into Grand Rapids and spend a day walking around and shopping.
In any case, the class of 1947 mostly enjoyed a slice of America that has itself now mostly faded away. But it was fun while it lasted.
The cover of the 1947 class annual.
Left click on the image for a larger image.
The entire 1947 class annual, made available for scanning by by Edna (Carpenter) and Forrest Keyes, Godwin class of 1934 and 1932 repectively, is presented below. To view the pages, simply left click on the page numbers. Each page has been scanned at about 150% of its original size in order to make some of the details easier to see. You might have to move the image around in your browser in order to see it all. Be sure to make your browser full screen size for easier viewing.
Also be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of each page; comments and notes are included on some of the pages. Use the "Back" button on your browser to return to the main menu. People should consider contacting me if they have additional information, or comments.
If anyone has any other photographs pertaining to the class of 1947 they'd like to see included here please contact me.