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Blundell grads reunite 50 years later

Don Fennell   Jun-15-2018

Blundell elementary's class of 1968 reunited recently.

Photo submitted

Toymaker Mattel introduced Hot Wheels.

The Green Bay Packers defeated Oakland Raiders 33-14 in the second Super Bowl. Rowan Martin’s Laugh-In made its TV debut. Pierre Elliott Trudeau became Canada’s 15th Prime Minister. And the first Special Olympics were held at Chicago’s Soldier Field.



It was 1968, and in Richmond 116 Grade 7 students at Blundell celebrated their graduation from elementary school.

Several of those students reunited recently to reminisce about the days of yore. From the graduating class of 1968, students grew up to enjoy many professions including software CEO, lawyer and educator.

“It was an important time of our lives that made us who we are today,” said Julie (Hyde) Pappajohn.

Pappajohn recalls when she first attended Blundell the girls all played on one side of the school and the boys on the other. Lining up outside for fire drills, playing hopscotch and skipping were other popular pastimes.

Donna Matheson, who helped organize the reunion along with Don Taylor and Wayne Green, also recalled the formality of the era. She got the strap in Grade 7 for going to the store at lunch.

“I also remember being on staff room kitchen duty and cleaning up for the teachers, and taking almost all afternoon,” said Matheson, who ironically grew up to become a teacher and later vice-principal in the Richmond School District.

Added Beth (Honan) Haggerty: “(The reunion was) an amazing blast from the past. It was a privilege to remember some of our common history along life's journey and as per usual let go of the negative and focus on the positive. Life is too short and we've got a lot of living left to do. Let's make this next season of life a great one and leave this place better than we found it.”

“Born in 1955, we were right in the middle of the post war baby boom, and Richmond was a fast growing community which attracted families,” said Taylor, who like Matheson became a teacher and later a vice-principal in Richmond. “Rather than two children, parents were raising three to six children. I am one of four.”

Longtime Richmond city councillor Harold Steves taught Grade 7 science at Blundell in 1968. He has fond memories of the time.

“It was the year Canada’s first environmental group was formed,” he noted. “The Richmond Anti-pollution Association campaigned for sewage treatment on the Fraser River, and I rewrote a song about it and taught it science and music classes. Does anyone remember the “Fraser River Song” and the word they weren’t supposed to sing?”

When no buses were available, bicycles became the mode of transportation for several field trips to the river and foreshore to study pollution and collect samples. But Steves recalls the trips were cancelled by the principal when a student at the end of the line gave (a rude jester) to the principal of Grauer.”

Haggerty retains in her mind a clear picture of Steves perched on the counter with his guitar, clad in a well-worn tan corduroy jacket with patched elbows, button down denim shirt and skinny tie singing about the muddy Fraser.

John de Putter has fond memories of playing baseball and hockey cards against the school walls at lunch and recess, with closest card to the wall taking both cards.

He also remembers Steves and going to the ditches looking at frogs, tadpoles and ditchwater.

“I loved that because that’s what we’d do in our neighbourhood.”

Jean Matthewson recalls her teachers in Grades 4 and 5. Miss Jackson, her Grade 4 teacher, told the class she would become Mrs. Gilmore after Christmas break, and invited the entire class to go to church in Vancouver to see her emerge in her wedding gown.

“In Grade 5, Mr. Eyjolfson threatened us all with detention if we didn’t learn to spell his name by the end of the first week,” she said.

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