ELKHART — Forty years ago, they gathered at places like Wray’s Ice Cream and the Rootbeer Barrel.
Those locales no longer exist, but members of Elkhart High School’s class of 1972 — the 100th and last of the facility’s history — are still alive and kicking and they gather this weekend for their 40th reunion. They’ll undoubtedly recount old times and adventures in places like Wray’s and the Rootbeer Barrel, favorites of Patricia Osborne, a member of the class and one of the reunion organizers.
“The chatter on the Facebook is just abuzz,” Osborne said, alluding to the class of 1972 Facebook page. “It’s growing in momentum.”
Activities start late Friday afternoon with a reception at Crimaldi’s Restaurant in Elkhart and continue through Sunday. Among other things, they’ll gather Friday at Wellfield Botanic Gardens to remember classmates who have passed on. A large stone memorial is being completed that will eventually be placed there in memory of the departed classmates.
Friday evening, they gather for a dance at the Athenian Ballroom at the Cornerstone building in the city center. Then on Saturday, they’ll assemble for a canoe trip and meet late that afternoon at Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern.
The Class of 1972 had 989 members, making it one of the largest ever in Indiana high school history, according to Osborne, then known as Patricia Rheinheimer. About one-third are expected to come for this weekend’s activities.
But size is hardly the only distinguishing characteristic — the class of 1972 was the last to graduate as Elkhart High School students, Osborne said. In the fall of 1972, Elkhart Memorial High School opened and Elkhart High School changed its name to Elkhart Central High School.
“It’s always meant something special,” Osborne said. “It’s kind of like closing an era.”
Together with the name change, the original Elkhart High School structure in downtown Elkhart, which by then was used just by 10th graders, was phased out as an educational facility, another milestone.
On hand will be class members from Oregon, Florida and all points in between, Australia even. “Just about all the states are represented,” Osborne said.
For more information, go to www.ehs72.com or www.facebook.com/groups/ehs72. Some of the reunion activities cost, others don’t.
Editor's note: The initial version of this story misspelled Wray's.