By Jennifer Ross and printed in NORTHWEST NEWS, July 7, 2004


The Yo-Yo was all the rage in-between classes at the Huntertown High School.  Maneuvering around the Yo-Yo tricksters, BEA SPROULS MacQUIRE, the only senior band member, carefully carried her clarinet.


Meanwhile, RUTH PUFF STINNETT quietly chatted with her newly made friends, but she was too shy to talk to the basketball star NICK BLOOM.   Of the 51 seniors, Bloom was one of the cool kids that everybody enjoyed watching on and off the basketball floor. 


Now, 60 years later, the high school anxieties and shyness have melted away.  The trio, along with Bloom’s wife, KATIE, has teamed up to plan the 60th reunion of the class of 1944 on July 30.  Not only is the class celebrating its 60th reunion, it will be the class’s 57th consecutive reunion.  “We like to see each other and keep up with each other,”  Bloom said.  “Our battle cry has always been ‘Next Year’.”


Even though the class graduated in the year of the monkey, Bloom said the class of 1944 was an unusual bunch from the start because of World War II.  “Everybody did with less,” he said.  “There were rations and a great deal of bodies coming home.  You didn’t know what you were going to do after high school.”


Bloom said that most of his classmates either worked in a factory or served in the military.  Many students left school early to work or join the military as well.  The class lost fellow classmate WILLIAM RYAN on March 8, 1945 at Iwo Jima.


“It was nice to graduate,” Bloom said, “but you knew what was ahead.  It was something you tried not to think about too much.”  Although gas was rationed and tires were sacred, MacQuire’s parents drove her back to school so she could participate in the band all four years of high school.  MacQuire earned a letter sweater for band but she never received one.  One of the school trustees told her mother the school couldn’t afford it.


“We went through a lot in high school,” MacQuire said.  “I think that brought us closer together.  We’re friendlier now than we were in high school.  


Stinnett said she agrees that the class, which has lost only 15 classmates in the 60 years, seems to get closer at each reunion.  “We realize the importance of keeping in contact with each other,” Stinnett said.  “The older you get, the more acquainted you get with each other.  Stinnett joined the Huntertown High School’s class of 1944 in her junior year.  She had attended a larger high school where she said she felt out of place.  “I had lived in the country all my life,” Stinnett said.  “I was like a lost sheep in that big school, but when I came to Huntertown I wasn’t lost.  I was just amazed.”


MacQuire and Stinnett said they remember standing in line to buy silk hosiery.  “We didn’t dress fancy, that’s for sure,”  MacQuire laughed.


Because of paper rationing, the classes of 1943 and 1944 did not have a yearbook.  At the class of 1944’s 50th reunion, the students created their own yearbook.  “When I look around at our reunions,” MacQuire said, “I see a really young group.”


Their reunions have changed from square dancing until the morning to not driving after it is dark, but the students remain the same, Bloom said.  “As long as people can walk,” he said, “they’ll come.”