Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Class of ‘46

| June 24, 2020 7:20 AM

A classic G. George Ostrom column from 2006.

Had an operation on eyelids August 30 to restore lost peripheral vision. Naturally there was some swelling and bruising. Daughter Wendy said it looked like I had been in a bar fight. To have an interesting comeback for people who inquired about my condition, I began telling everyone the doctor said when the swelling went down and stitches removed, I would look a lot like the movie actor, Brad Pitt.

Didn’t go out in public much the first week but had a meeting on the sixth of September in a café. Because of talking about the operation on the radio there were people who kidded me but one lady really set me up. When she saw me enter the restaurant she pointed while loudly saying, “Oh look! There’s Brad Pitt.” That was somewhat embarrassing … but good for several laughs and comments. The next day at the Over-the-Hill coffee meeting, Elmer Searle, who’d been gone for a week or two, asked about my eyes so I told him the doctor said I would soon look like Brad Pitt. Elmer stared for a minute then said, “George! I hate to tell you this, but you have been cruelly misled by an enormously exaggerated statement.”

The Flathead High School “Class of ‘46” had its 60th reunion last weekend in Kalispell. Started with a “meet and greet” social and steak fry at the Buffalo Hills Golf Club Friday evening. Close to 60 of our class were there, along with husbands, wives, or friends. I challenged the group to really relax and raise whoopee until … until … 9 o’clock. That didn’t go over too well. Iris and I were among the last to leave at 8:20, but not before I had made a point to hug every one of the girl classmates, “In case I missed them when we were in school.”

The big night was a banquet Saturday at the Outlaw Inn with Dean Potter’s band providing music. Hardly anyone danced but the more active ones tapped at least one foot. Gladys Shay of the Hungry Horse News was there and I talked her into giving me a hug, even though she told me she wasn’t into hugging. Jack King of the Valley Bank, who was class president, told a good joke. Erick Fehlberg, Class VP, flew up with wife Patty Buckmaster from their home in California. Erick’s granddad was Billy Adair who founded Polebridge and built the store in the North Fork, which is still going strong. The most reunion work was done by Bob O’Neil, a retired college professor who was a student officer and football co-captain.

It would be fun if I could mention all the classmates because the 46ers were and are, a wonderful bunch of people. Had about 200 in the class and 64 have gone to the big study hall in the sky. Among those is Jerry Baldwin who went down over the China Sea in a jet during the Korean War. Fondly recall good times with many of the others including “Burr” Martin who broke the world’s record for the one man bobsled run at San Moritz, Switzerland, in 1948 while we were serving in German occupation. Burr was given a special Olympic Medal. How can we forget Phil Bertelson? He was a banker for years in Columbia Falls. Bert was in a group of us who went to join the Army but he was turned down for a bad eye. Later, he, Holly Eastlund, and many others got drafted to go occupy Japan.

It is with great pride I can say publicly, in print, “Most of us did last until 9 p.m. on Saturday, a remarkable accomplishment.”

I was so proud of the staying power of my classmates, I didn’t even care that no one recognized my resemblance to Brad Pitt.