Class of 1953 shares food and fond memories

The New Ulm High School class of 1953 reunites for their 70 year celebration at the New Ulm Pizza Ranch. Front: Dolores Schwope, Maryann Bianchi, Gerry Hildebrandt, Lois Ulbrict Barrer, Joan Schrimpf Busch. Middle: Doris Wiebl Schweiss, Gladys Anderson Larson, Elaine Bergin, Shirley Tammen, Betty Albright. Back: James Gieseke, George Maha, Ted Ranheim, Naomi Schapekahm Schimmel, Evie Lippmann Swenson, Dennis Broste, Darrell Ulrich, Jim Albright, Erwin Steinke, Donnie Klossner.

NEW ULM — Food and fond memories were shared alike as the 1953 New Ulm High School class held its 70-year class reunion Thursday.

Twenty members were able to make the trip to New Ulm to share lunch at Pizza Ranch. The group has gotten together twice a year since 2005. Joan Busch said they used to only get together once every five years, but as the group got older they wanted to meet more often.

“How about we meet for lunch?” She said. “That’s how it started and we went on from there. We first started [meeting] at Duke’s in Nicollet.”

Two graduates involved since the beginning are Betty and Jim Albright. After meeting their sophomore year, they went steady and got married in 1956. Their marriage is still as strong as ever, and Betty Albright said their deep connection goes back to the beginning.

“He invited me to dance in our sophomore year,” she said. “An old boyfriend sitting near me said, ‘Oh that’s so dumb, he doesn’t know how to dance.’ And it turned out he was right. [Our marriage has been] great because we have a lot of background together. We understand each other.”

Back when they graduated, it wasn’t a guarantee children even went to school. Gerry Hildebrandt said there was a spectrum people fell onto in terms of their education.

“We were very fortunate to be in high school,” she said. “Some of the families didn’t even send their children to school because they were supposed to stay home and work. But there are some here who were able to go to college as well as high school.”

While they didn’t have the plethora of places available today, Busch said there was one place everyone knew as the hang-out spot.

“Eibner’s restaurant,” she said. “That was the place to hang out after football games. That’s where everybody went to call their parents to pick them up for whatever.”

“We ate double chocolate marshmallow salted peanut sundaes,” Hildebrandt added.

Graduates also reminisced on the teachers who had impacted their lives. Ted Ranheim said the career he pursued came from one of his teachers.

“We had a chemistry teacher named Arlene Rafferty and she was good,” he said. “She encouraged me to get a degree in chemistry. I ended up in pharmacy, and she was very influential.”

Many of the graduates enjoyed going to school. Betty Albright said she could not recall a single time she did not want to go to school. Activities such as after-school sports and band/choir and classes like home ec and agriculture were what students most often chose. For Ranheim, the time period represents a level of peace and opportunity not seen today.

“It was a time of peace and the world seemed to be in fairly decent order back then we didn’t have all the conflicts going on,” he said. “After the war, there was a lot of growth and a lot of opportunities for jobs. When we graduated from college, we could look at four or five opportunities and pick and choose which one we wanted. It was a good time in our economy and the homes were stable.”

While the world today has its share of uncertainty and worry, the class of 1953 was able to reminisce on the good old days gone by over pizza and fried chicken.


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