Liverpool alums welcome Class of ‘52 into Olde Guard

EAST LIVERPOOL – Hoge’s Drive-in Restaurant was the favorite eatery for high schoolers, Riverview Florists was offering prom corsages for $3, and boys could rent their prom finery for a mere $11 which included coat, trousers, shirt, tie, shoes and jewelry.

It was 1952 and with jobs plentiful and the economy booming, most city residents worried primarily about whether or not their graduating sons might be drafted into the Korean War.

The East Liverpool High School Class of 1952 was welcomed Wednesday to the 19th annual Olde Guard Luncheon held at the East Liverpool Motor Lodge, making it the latest class to join the annual event which celebrates those classes which have reached their 61st year after graduation.

According to chairman Nancy Lessel Hanselman (Class of ’66), the idea for the luncheon came about from an off-hand comment from her Sunday school teacher nearly 20 years ago.

“She said it would have been her 65th class reunion and she had never been to one of her reunions,” Hanselman recalled.

Hanselman decided to call a few members of the class to see if they were interested in a luncheon, and learned that they were, but they didn’t want any men “because you can’t talk and visit with men there.”

That was in 1994, and 12 ladies from the Class of 1929 attended the luncheon at the Motor Lodge.

Then, local businessman Frank Dawson contacted Hanselman to say the men from the Class of 1929 “had their noses out of joint” because they had not been invited, so plans were made to hold another reunion the next year.

In 1995, 60 members from several classes attended the luncheon at the East Liverpool Country Club, and eventually the annual event outgrew that facility and moved to Adrian’s Banquet Hall. Again, it outgrew the facility and moved back to the Motor Lodge, where it has been held the last 10 years.

Each year, the class celebrating its 61st reunion is asked to join the luncheon, with Hanselman saying most classes stop holding reunions after their 60th.

However, perhaps buoyed by the fellowship they found at the Olde Guard luncheon, many classes now hold individual lunches year-round, she said.

The highest number ever attending one of the annual Olde Guard lunches was 350, and this year 265 reservations were made, with 1933 the oldest class represented.

The luncheon was kicked off with the crowning of Queen Doris Vess Galley of Midland, Pa., Class of ’50 and King Robert Schmidt of Tallahassee, Fla., Class of ’42.

Hanselman said the queen and king are named each year by pulling from the returned reservation cards.

She became a bit emotional when Galley’s card was pulled as queen because Galley’s sister, Joann Vess Hilliard, was a long-time promoter of the annual event, working at every one until her fairly recent death.

“When I pulled (Galley’s) name as queen, I knew Joann’s spirit was here with us,” Hanselman said.

The most senior of the classmates who attended this week’s luncheon was again Dr. Herschel Rubin, a retired optometrist who practiced in the Little Building for many years.

Asked his age, the feisty Class of ’33 member proclaimed that a “personal question,” then with a twinkle in his eye, said he is currently 97 and 7/12 years old, and said he actually gets to his office earlier now than he did when he was practicing.

A model train set-up now encompasses what was formerly his office space, and Rubin said he spends about five days per week there, operating them.

In addition to their lunch, guests had plenty of time to recollect their high school years and those intervening years, and the program included photographs, articles from old yearbooks, and advertisements from 1952 for the newest kids on the block to reminisce over.