It was the fall of '59 and to all of us young kids,
We were caught up in the excitement of our first CHS bids.
We were in awe of this building on West End Place, so stately and clean,
For it was to be our home away from home throughout much of our teens.
After all we were now students in Cougarland strong,
Trying to determine our learning ways, and to put right ahead of wrong.
The challenges for some appeared testy at best,
But for most of us college preppies we were clear of our quest.
We faced the challenge of our lives that would help set up our careers,
Learning real quick how smart we were and for what kind of lives we'd be geared.
Our first impressions of most everything had many of us in awe,
Just knowing we were underlings to the upper classmen we saw.
There were big strapping football players like Muldrow, Nordstrom and DeLong,
Some of who found us gawking and appearing more weak than strong.
There was Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Post with their bow ties proud,
Our principals in rank and standing out from the crowd.
We had a hard time envisioning just how well we would fit,
Would we fall prey to pranks that would move us to quit?
But an amazing thing happened that first year at CHS,
That intimidation we may have expected never really happened, we confess.
The upper classmen never seemed indifferent or thought we were too green,
Making it much easier for us to blend in and pursue our education and dreams.
With teachers like Yanuzzi, Halpern, Weinblatt, Russo and Jones,
We started learning about chemistry, biology and algebra, Spanish and prose.
I can remember like it was yesterday my first chemistry class sophomore year,
Mr. Y blowing up a beaker with sodium to develop our interest it was clear.
Who could forget the study halls we had in the cafeteria each day,
Where chocolate chip cookies from the snack bar would help make the time go away.
We grew smarter and wiser and began to understand more about life,
Developing some friendships and relationships that became really tight.
The boys who played football did so under a coach named Stan Grayson,
A coach who did less coaching, more yelling, and a lot of pacing.
Memorial Field was our gathering place for Saturday morning football games,
And varsity soccer matches and baseball contests were played there just the same.
You could see the complex from the Parkway as clear as a bell,
Actually influencing my parents' choice of Cranford as our new home to dwell.
Bill Martin was the AD and our veteran basketball coach,
While Hubie Brown mentored baseball, one of his many sports posts.
Diminutive Herb Farrell was actually the wrestling team's giant,
Refusing to lose and making sure his grapplers were compliant.
Cranford hockey in the early 60's was just a club and unaffiliated with the school,
Winning championship after championship and throughout the East they did rule.
Our athletic stars had names like Milius, Olson, Ritter and Krip,
Everyone else sticking with the games they chose and never thinking to quit.
Our senior year soccer team under Coach Preite made history of sorts,
Becoming the first Cranford High team to make the state tournament in this then foreign sport.
The wrestling team was tough and won most of its meets,
For what else would you expect from a team practicing in boiler room heat.
It was passion and teamwork our coaches always did pound,
Instilling teamwork and desire and teaching us how to rebound.
It was the Watchung Conference then that we all did support,
Some earning championship jackets and varsity letter sweaters in various sports.
The marching band was small by today's standards, but played well despite the rumor,
That Mr. Toenes' white uniform came from an ice cream company called Good Humor.
It was our class that started the Pep Club for varsity basketball games,
Boasting a Pep Band and offering programs - creating spirit and fun just the same.
Though the varsity cagers our senior year lost more than they did win,
Friday night home games were still filled with excitement and a tremendous din.
Our cheerleaders were the best, cheering loud till they were hoarse,
Seldom caring about the score, but supporting our athletes to the end, of course.
There was Djinke and Betty Ann, Kathy, Mildred and Joanne,
Making the most of every cheer and to get the most out of the fans.
We played powder puff football games where we dressed up like jerks,
But letting the girls win actually provided us guys with some perks.
We thought the Senior Day Follies could make some of us wannabe stars,
Some danced, some sang while others acted out their parts.
There were after-school trips to the Peppermint Room in town,
The Cranteen on Saturdays nights and ice skating on the pond.
We became smarter and wiser and our maturity level grew too,
Moving to sophomores and to juniors and then seniors gold and blue.
We were the class that brought the Glenn Miller Orchestra to play,
At our junior prom in the gymnasium, and so outstanding were they.
I can remember Coach Farrell and his wife cutting a mean jitterbug there,
While hundreds of people listened to the music on lawn chairs outside of our lair.
No matter what was your grouping in the long halls of the school,
You can bet most everyone was accommodating and mainly stuck by the rules.
Our yearbook honored the Peace Corps and after all of these years,
The cartoon graphic cover still draws snickers from family members and peers.
Billy Ray's dad ran the Cranford Chronicle near the railroad station in town,
Keeping everyone updated on all of Cranford's ups and downs.
I had the pleasure of covering the sports teams for the Cougars proud,
Informing the townsfolk of their progress to help build home game crowds.
I had pride in my school, my classmates and friends,
Never thinking once how this was all going to end.
But that June day in '63 did approach really fast,
Graduation Day was upon us ending the four years past.
We graduated 294 of Cranford's finest youth then,
Which was the largest ever at the time from the CHS den.
They played Pomp and Circumstance as we walked down the aisles to the stage,
Where we were herded onto platforms like animals in a cage.
It was rather warm that night with the auditorium filled to the max,
And when the ceiling fans went on they covered our caps and gowns with crap.
We laughed at the sight of some of us covered with dust,
But plow ahead we did with getting that diploma a must.
Some of us chose college as our next stop in life,
While others entered the armed forces, took a job or a wife.
The country was at war in a place called Viet Nam,
And some of our classmates faced experiences meant for the damned.
Fortunately most of our war boys made it home safe and secure,
While others made it a career and spent more than one tour.
Many embarked for places away from Cranford and around the world and USA,
But everyone did so as Cranford's best and often with much to say.
Jackie Duay became our reunion leader and to us she did steer,
To many reunion parties and events that she helped organize over the years.
We have mainly stuck together and we're proud to relay,
Stories about the kids we raised and the jobs we had with big pay.
Ron Farb made it a goal to climb the great mountains of the world,
Raising money for a cancer foundation that he and his wife did unfurl.
Larry Pace became a popular jazz sax player with music his passion,
Showing our careers had few boundaries or lack of action.
Many of us have battled illnesses, joint replacements and stress,
Vying to recover and add years and to limit the mess.
Now 50 years later as we look back at it all,
We have made it through most everything and have a reason to stand tall.
Our Cranford upbringing played a large part in our growth,
Guiding us in making decisions that would be right we hoped.
We stand proud at the fact that we have made it to this day,
CHS Cougars strong and united, and for the rest of our years we will stay.
So on with Cranford, on with Cranford as our school song's lyrics state,
We give thanks for the memories and for making it to today at age 68.
We'll laugh a lot tonight, reminisce and share stories that might bring tears,
But it's been a great run for us all over the last 50 years.
So let's party tonight as if it's going to be our last,
Remembering those who are not with us but still big parts of our past.
We will drink to the memories and the stories we'll still share,
Thinking back to the good old days when we did things often on a dare.
We'll try dancing tonight to the great music of our time,
Bringing back the Stroll and the Twist that we did in our prime.
But when the pain gets too great for our old bodies to cope,
Many of us will need to sit down to recover saying "man, what a dope!"
It's obvious we can't do things today that we did in our youth,
But one thing is for certain that won't take long to prove.
We're the Cranford High School Class of 1963,
And to that we'll remain faithful forever and always together we shall be.
For nothing can compare to our glorious high school days,
And tonight we celebrate it all in the most wondrous of ways.
It's great to see everyone looking so good all dressed up,
But in conditions we never thought about as teenagers and such.
So celebrate hard and make the most of tonight's affair,
And do it in style and aplomb and without a care.
Other classes have graduated from Cranford High since we left,
But when it comes to comparisons the '63 group was the best!
So let's raise our glasses and toast the best times of our lives,
God bless everyone and all the memories and let's celebrate them well into the night.
Hope everyone has a ball!
Written by Rich Rubenstein
Cranford High School Class of 1963
50th Reunion - Clark, NJ - June 22, 2013
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