Memories of bobby socks

Joan Raabe, a 1954 graduate of the former St. Bernard High School, at left, and Dan O’Brien, who graduated the same year from Bradford Senior High School and is holding an old Barker yearbook, were two of the approximate 40 attendees of the 65th reunion for the two schools Thursday. The gathering will be held again beginning at 5:30 p.m. today at the Bradford Club on Boylston Street.

When teenagers were dismissed for the day from Bradford Senior High School or St. Bernard High School in 1954, they often went to the Cut Rite or Gray’s drug stores in town to buy a six-cent Coke and listen to jukebox songs that included “Mr. Sandman” and “Earth Angel.”

A group of those same kids from yesteryear, albeit a few years older, gathered Thursday at the Bradford Club to reminisce and share old memories during their 65th reunion for the two high schools.

Dan O’Brien of Bradford is one of the organizers of the gathering and said the event had approximately 68 in attendance, including spouses, with 38 to 40 graduates of 1954. Their average age is 83 and the two groups believe they’ve combined their reunions for the past 30 years.

When asked if it felt like 65 years since he and the others walked across the stage to collect their diplomas, O’Brien smiled, and said with a laugh, “Oh boy!”

Shirley Cavallero DelMonego and Marcella Means Wagner, alumni of Bradford High, were the greeters for their fellow classmates and shared memories from their high school days. Both remember wearing saddle shoes, bobby socks and poodle dog skirts with crinoline hooped petticoats underneath.

“The crinolines made the skirts pop out,” O’Brien added.

Joan Raabe, a graduate of St. Bernard, said she remembers going to the drug stores after school, too, but didn’t remember mingling with Bradford High students all that much.

Raabe also remembers stopping at Cut Rite for six-cent Cokes.

“I loved the six-cent chocolate with cherry Coke,” Raabe said in providing more details as they surfaced. “But half the time we didn’t have that — we had to borrow a penny from somebody.”

O’Brien chimed in, “We didn’t have the nickel sometimes, either.”

Wagner also remembers that the Cut Rite drug store was on the corner of Veterans Square in town, in the current location of Eye Care Professional Associates building.

Another Bradford High graduate, Helen DeFrank said she has enjoyed the joint reunions, and that they continue to be held.

“You know, most classes stop at the 60th,” DeFrank said, noting some of their classmates want to get together for their 85th birthdays for the next reunion. “They don’t want to wait five years.”

When the group was asked if they planned to dance to some vintage songs later in the evening, one of the women brought a laugh from the others when she replied, “We’re lucky we can walk!”

Larry Murphy, a St. Bernard graduate from Toledo, Ohio, said Bradford has changed dramatically since his childhood days in town. He attributes this to the change in businesses and street design.

“I couldn’t find my way (through town), I had to go all the way back to Foster Brook,” Murphy admitted. “Most of the things that I remember aren’t here anymore.”

Murphy said that while the physical aspects are gone from his boyhood town, the memories of a kind community remain.

“Because of people here in Bradford, I was able to get my start,” he explained, noting there were individuals who helped him attend the University of Notre Dame, which led to a successful career. “It was a good hometown.”

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)