By Bob Kozlowski ’50

 

In fall 1946, a record 473 freshmen matriculated in Saint Mary’s, including a number of World War II veterans taking advantage of the GI Bill. So the Class of 1950 had an identity quite different from any of its predecessors.

Something happened as the days progressed that autumn. This class was fiercely independent and somewhat unruly. The veterans were more mature, and the green kids in the class assimilated with them quickly. Bonds of friendships developed, nurtured by all-night card games and frequent trips to the Moraga Bar.

In the fall of 1948, the imprimatur “OK, Ray White” mysteriously began to appear on official notices posted on bulletin boards, ridiculing authors of authoritative pronouncements, following the “Kilroy Was Here” craze of WWII.

In May 1950, Senior Class President Barney Mellon asked classmate Frank Pimentel to write something about this unique class before graduation. He wrote a 10-page letter describing 155 of his classmates in insightful comic vignettes, such as “Larry Garetto learned to take the good with the bad. He had the yellow convertible to offset the accordion,” and “Ninety-eight pounds of bone and protoplasm was the identifying mark of Bob Franc. On windy days he wasn’t allowed out of doors.” He mailed the letter to Mellon, but for unknown reasons it was not delivered.

Nearly 50 years later, it was discovered in my archived files. It was like finding a time capsule. This comic masterpiece was literally frozen in time, and its contents brought tremendous enjoyment to our classmates when read in the new light of a half-century of expired time.
Only 173 of the class graduated on schedule in the spring of 1950. For academic and other reasons, some of the original group was able to graduate early, in 1949, or with later classes.

Fast forward to 1996. An ad-hoc committee, named “The Think Tank” by its organizer, Joe Casalnuovo, was selected to plan the class’ 50th reunion and select a gift that the class would present to Saint Mary’s on this occasion. The Think Tank came up with goals, including raising enough money to provide a full academic scholarship to a deserving student, finding missing classmates and publishing a “memory book.”

All the graduates were located, along with some who left or graduated with other classes, and nearly all contributed information about themselves. The bonds established 50 years before were reactivated; memories of their experiences at Saint Mary’s were still fresh in their minds.

The Class of ‘50, including friends, relatives and the families of deceased classmates, raised more than $500,000 for its Millennium Scholarship Fund.

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