Class of 1955

Dick Brockmeier
Twenty-ninth commencement program.
1955 baccalaureate services.
Class honors winners.
Class night.
Class of 1955 40th union
Class of 1955 45th union
Class of 1955 deceased as of 2005
Recent photographs

1955 Class Annual

Bob Ferguson, class of 1955, provided access to the annual.

Left click here for a much larger version.

Access to the class photograph for scanning was provided by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955

- Dick Brockmeier -

Dick Brockmeier - 1955

One of Godwin's outstanding students, Dick Brockmeier went on to became a physicist, and faculty member at Hope College. His widow, Helen, has kindly provided a large amount of detail about Dick's very successful career after graduating from Godwin. Left click here to see more.

Left click on the images below for larger versions.


- Twenty-ninth commencement program -

Twenty-ninth Annual Commencement of Godwin Heights High School.

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Access to the 1955 commencement program for scanning was provided by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

1955 Commencement announcement - GR Herald.

Material supplied by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

- 1955 Baccalaureate Services -

1955 Baccalaureate Services

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Material supplied by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

- Class honors winners -

Top Scholastic Marks

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Dick Brockmeier was valedictorian and Carl Scully salutatorian in 1955.

Material supplied by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

Class night honors.

Material supplied by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

Sandra Whittemore wins a D.A.R. Award.

- Class night -

Class night

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Material supplied by Mike Bloore, class of 1955.

- Miscellaneous -

Some photos of 1954 and 1955 class members taken in 1952.

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Photographs supplied by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

Notice that Dick Brockmeier's prowess as a budding scientist was already becoming apparent in 1952.

1955 coaches and cheerleaders

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Material provided by Polly Goeman, class of 1959.

Apparently Daniel Czuhai and Gene Nyenhuis were still relatively new to Godwin in 1955, but graduated to top bananas on the coaching staff that year.

Bob Bush killed in scooter accident - May 15, 1954.

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Material supplied by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

There's a certain irony in the fact that back when the roads were less congested, say in 1963 and before, there were more Godwin students killed in vehicle related accidents, whereas in year 2005 there is so much congestion that it is hard to go fast enough to produce a fatal accident. It was relatively common in the 1930s through the 1950s to lose a class member to a vehicle related fatality. In many cases in the 1930s the cause was high speed trains, and rural railroad crossings with just a sign rather that gates and flashing lights. While hard to believe in year 2005, in the 1940s yet there were passenger trains that were called "flyers," and they did in fact go 65 or 70 miles per hour. Apparently people often misjudged the amount of time they had to get across the tracks, or simply didn't look carefully up and down the track before attempting to cross. Quite simply, the train always won in an encounter with a car.

But while probably the most common cause of fatalities, this was not the only source. Car and truck collisions produced fatalities, car on car, and sometimes loss of control as cars were driven fast or in poor conditions on unpaved, narrow roads, in rural areas. Wet dirt roads can produce unexpected conditions, from being slippery to being full of potholes leading to poor control. The cars of the time did not handle as well as cars of year 2005, nor were the tires as good at gripping the road. Winter was probably a very bad time in this regard.

Bob Bush's scooter accident represents a dangerous niche situation - a very small vehicle interacting with much bigger ones. Akin to cars versus trains or heavy trucks, a scooter or motorcycle mostly does not fare well against a car. And the stopping distances for a scooter or motorcycle are longer. Add to this that up until at least 1960 someone could get a license for a motorbike or scooter with less than five horsepower when they were 14 to 16 years old. While the intent was probably good originally, the sad reality is that even in year 2005 the highest insurance rates are for the youngest drivers. In short the judgement is not always there to the extent that it hopefully is when people get older.

By year 2005 there is little truly rural land left in the Godwin area, as more and more farm land gets carved up for houses and businesses every year. And few young people ride bikes or scooters of any kind any more, for whatever reason. Most roads are so congested in year 2005 that it is genuinely difficult to go fast enough to produce a fatal accident, albeit not impossible. And as reflected in the Godwin annuals after about 1960, one does not often see a deceased classmate any longer. The concept of the open road has succumbed to inexorable population growth everywhere.

Rules for senior class privileges.

Material provided by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

The concept of privileges, and rules to go along with them, seems quaint in year 2005, when privileges of any kind strike many as discriminatory. But in 1955 seniors could enjoy their lame duck status for a month or so, and to an extent be allowed to roam during class time, within the guidelines stipulated. By May grades mattered little any longer. Most coursework had been completed, and students were already applying for work or for admission to college or some other advanced learning. So attention to classwork matters was not likely to have been great anyway. Seniors could therefore loiter in the area around the school, much as all students did that time of year during their lunch break.

Senior class trip and trip rules.

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Material provided by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

Apparently a charter train trip on the New York Central to New York City comprised the 1955 class trip.

Up to about 1957 things like camp and trips were part of Godwin life. There was some kind of orientation camp for those entering seventh grade. There were band trips, and senior trips, including the ground breaking, if never to be repeated, 1929 class trip to Yellowstone. The Boy Scouts had campovers of various kinds, and presumably so did the equivalent women's organizations.

After about 1957 these kinds of activities seemed to die out. Just why is unclear, and in fact there might be several factors. In a TV era more and more students might not have been interested in roughing it. More families took road trips anyway, so the novelty might not have been there. Jets made long distance travel routine by the late 1950s, and the interstates did much the same for road travel. These same developments might have taken some of the charm and challenge out of class trips, in an era when packaged tours seems to replace personal adventure. Class sizes might have worked against trips, making their execution too difficult. A class of 60 to 80 might have been more practical than a class of 200 or so. And there might have been legal and other impediments to continuing camp and road trips.

In the mid 1960s and early 1970s scouting came under attack as being a paramilitary organization, yet another victim of the Vietnam era, and its popularity declined. The area around Godwin developed to the point that camping out over night more and more required travel.

One can only admire the notion that one might take a chartered train on a class trip. Like many other things, it would simply not be possible in year 2005 to do that. Even passenger trains don't exist much any more. But the class trips of the early 1950s and before must have been grand fun while they lasted.

Class trip highlights - Chicago and NYC.

Material provided by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

Lee Smith provides the following perspective of some aspects of life in 1955. Prices are relative to wages, and it's well to remember that a decent annual income in 1955 was $4,000. There were few foreign cars at the time, and "Detroit," a name with mostly historical meaning in year 2006, had a monopoly on the US car market. Prices and poor quality reflected that. While a new car might cost $2,000 at the time, one can get many high quality cars in year 2006 for about $10,000. On the other hand, health care has seemingly rising in price much faster than many other things. But it is well to remember that it is much better health care than one could receive in 1955, and in year 2006 one can survive illnesses that would have been fatal in 1955.

Other changes are not very impressive. Social norms continue to erode, and movies in year 2006 would not in general been shown in 1955. Progress for some means that social courseness continues to increase. There is more rudeness everywhere, and even a funeral doesn't seem worth dressing up for any more to many.

Anyway, while the past was not perfect, and someone has been claiming for the last 2,000 years or more that the youth are going down hill, there are aspects of life from the year 1955 that one could wish were still common in year 2006.

Comments made in the year 1955

- Class of 1955 40th reunion -

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Too wide for the scanner used, some information is missing from the key below. Top left in the key is "Back Row." Below that is "Jerry Rigney." Further down is "Marie Bosse." Near the bottom of the key is "Front Row."

40th reunion program

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Material provided by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

- Class of 1955 45th reunion -

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- Class of 1955 deceased as of 2005 -

Deceased List of Class of '55'
Click on colored items for an obit.

Bob Bartleson
Dick Brockmeier
Don Croft
Marilyn Dear
Jim DeGraves
Irving De Young
Dick Ellsworth
Pat Fitzgerald
Al Foster
Jack Green
Curt Horton
Stuart Mccally
Jon Miller
Eleanor Modreski
Bonnie Nogar
Joyce Oudendyke
Dick Parsons
Doris Purcell
George Rogers
Carl Scully
Cal Sytsma
Paul Uselton
Bob VanDerLaan
Beverly VanPutten
Jim Wenger
Jerry York

Some Material supplied by Bob Ferguson, class of 1955.

- Recent photographs -

Mike Bloore, in year 2006, doing some of the things he likes best.

The fish a large mouth bass, caught on Lake Sinclair, by Sparta, Georgia, where he lives. Radio controlled airplanes are another interest.

See section "B" for a look back at some of Mike's days when he served as a bat boy, and part time mascot for the Grand Rapids Chicks. If anyone has photographs of any kind relateding to the Chicks, please consider letting them be borrowed for scanning.