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Longmeadow High School Reunion Group 1957-1960



Happy Graduation Season!  Last week, on the first Thursday in June, I had the opportunity to sit down with a very special group of people, members of the first four graduating classes of Longmeadow High School. They gather at the Longmeadow Adult Center on the first Thursday of every month at 9 am. Most people grab a coffee and a pastry before taking a seat around the table to enjoy conversation and visit with people they’ve known nearly all their lives.


Longmeadow did not have a public high school in town until the 1955-56 school year.  Before that students attended the Junior High on the green, now the annex of Center School, through 9th grade and then chose one of several high schools in Springfield: High School of Commerce, Classical, Tech, or Trade. Each school catered to a particular work or higher education focus.  As always, some families opted for private high schools like Cathedral or MacDuffie.


Students of the very first graduating class of Longmeadow High School were the last ones to attend a Springfield public high school after Junior High. Carole Anas Mezzetti ‘57 attended the High School of Commerce for 10th Grade and remembers taking the school bus to and from Longmeadow. Apparently, you had to be quick at the end of the school day to catch the bus back. The bus, which picked students up from the nearby Classical High School, waited for no one. If you missed the bus, “tough luck,” Carole remembers. You’d have to walk to the public bus stop.


I expected that these folks would have been very excited to be the first students in a brand-new school. I was surprised to hear Peter Dow ‘57, who spent 10th Grade at Classical High School say: “Those who were in high school in Springfield didn’t WANT to go to the new high school.  They HAD to go. We had made new friends and relationships in high school. We were on sports teams.”  Classical was number one in sports. An unexpected benefit to the new school switch, though?  Longmeadow High School had great brand new uniforms as opposed to the “ratty” uniforms they were given in Springfield that had been worn by many previous years’ players.



Speaking of uniforms, it was that first class year that selected everything from the Lancers name and mascot to the school colors.  Why black and white?  Because all the good colors were taken by other schools in the area! 


Recently, a lot of attention in town has been turned towards plans for developing a new middle school to replace Williams and Glenbrook.  I asked the group if their parents were interested or involved in the planning of Longmeadow High School, Pat Vecchiarelli Downes ‘58, one of eleven Vecciarelli children, asserted that their parents were not like today’s “helicopter” parents, “our parents were just trying to work.”


Regarding the names for the yearbook, “Masacksic” and the newspaper, “Jet Jotter” it was these first class years that decided those as well.  Ed Mazer ‘59 suggested “Grassy Gutter Gazette” and “Gutter Gossip’ were thrown around as possible names for the paper.” Ultimately, inspired by the jet in jet black they settled on the Jet Jotter.


Jet black also inspired one of the team names in the annual girls’ Sports Night event which pinned the “Jets” team against the “Whites” team. Sports Night was a night of sport and performance that the young women always enjoyed and spent a lot of time planning. Teachers sent home a costume pattern for mothers to make for their daughters for the elaborate opening dance number.


Sandy Albano MacFadyen '60

Similarly to conversations with current LHS students and parents, sports dominated a lot of the conversation time around the table. One benefit to the smaller class sizes of the new high school was that everyone who tried out for a team made the team, as opposed to the Springfield high schools who had to make cuts to keep team sizes reasonable. Sports built character and confidence, one participant remembered. Several alums remembered a hockey rink right on school grounds in the depression in the grass between Grassy Gutter Rd and Williams Street. Tom Ewing ‘59 noted his surprise at the size of student-athletes he sees today. “The biggest kid on the football team was 180 lbs. Most were more like 140.” There were no weight rooms, plus kids remembered the impact of the rations of WWII.  


Glenn "Snip" Snyder '60

Girls participated in sports as well. Apparently, there was a strict rule as far as the Girls’ Basketball Team went: two dribbles and you had to pass the ball. School yearbooks from 1957-60 show teams in all the classics: baseball, track, football, soccer, golf, basketball, hockey, and tennis. These sports were the domain of male students, however.  Girls’ sports teams in volleyball, basketball, and field hockey seemed to be more geared toward intramural play after school. The Drill Team with its precision marching was a different story altogether.  Dressed neatly in blazers, the girls performed at all football and basketball games.



Drill Team with Pat Vecchiarelli Downes '58

Athletic Director, Bob D’ Agostino, was a hero to these young adults. His name invoked a feeling of reverence among many alumni gathered around the table. Not only did he guide them on the field, but he helped many of the young men out of a bind if they forgot their school-mandated neckties. For just a nickel, you could borrow one from Coach Dags’ locker full of ties. Ties were required by dress code from October through May.

Glenn "Snip" Snyder ‘60 was a great all-around athlete, excelling in several sports. He joined the Navy a year after graduating high school, but it was the fact that he was a “life-long friend to Bob D’Agostino and his wife … best friend” that Pete Dow ‘57 seemed intent on having me record. (Side note, Glenn is very proud of his high school nickname “Snip” which he earned after cutting off a classmate’s ponytail in 4th grade.)


Tom Ewing

Sports were not for everyone though, and there was plenty of opportunity to join clubs like the Red Cross Club, the French and Latin Clubs, Student Council, the Debating Club, the Business Club, and the Traffic Squad.  Music was a huge part of school life as well. More than just band and orchestra, LHS of 1957-1960 also offered a dance band and several vocal groups.  One student, Phillip Vecchiarelli ‘59 liked his music experience so much that he considered being a drummer in a band. Instead, he went to UMass for Engineering.


Phillip Vecchiarelli on drums

This was a time of transistor radios and 45 records. The memory that the Junior Prom was held in the cafeteria evoked a passionate discussion about their shared memory of Mr. Ryland’s dance classes and the white gloves they were made to wear. It was a peaceful time in American culture and an exciting time in American music. It was the time of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Peter Dow ‘57 fondly remembers driving with his friends down to rock and roll shows in Hartford where he saw Little Richard and Bill Haley. “My parents didn’t love that,” he says. But Pete had his own car, a ‘52 Ford Convertible that he paid $250 for. 


He wasn’t the only one with wheels. Students with cars parked them along Grassy Gutter.  Linda Swanson Abrams ‘58 had a car and would pick up her friends in it, and Bob Newell ‘59 fondly remembers his rusty four-door Ford that he got in an alley down in the South End of Springfield for $125.  Cars then, like now, offered freedom and independence for teenagers. Didn’t have your license?  No problem!  You could take driving lessons during the school day! Carole Anas Mezzetti ‘57 remembers driving lessons with two classmates and getting her driving license in the parking lot of LHS. Only then would she be eligible for the driving class the school provided that offered parents a discount on their insurance rates. 


Students held after-school jobs at places like the Community Market, Popular Market, caddying at the Country Club, and Smith’s Pharmacy. But above all, it was important to leave time for homework and studying. Just like today, academic standards were very high at the new school. Some parents worried that the new school wouldn’t be accredited and that their kids would risk not getting into college so they put them in private schools. Ed Mazar ‘59, who went on to attend Dartmouth, said that Principal Macfarland was hired to make LHS a premier feeder school for colleges. More than 60 years later, students remember the two days of Iowa tests and blue book finals. Many students did attend college after graduation, but not all.



Linda Swanson Abrams ‘58 joined the Air Force after graduation and headed out to California. She says she wasn’t ready for college. She spent four years in active service and another four in the reserves. How did Linda like the experience though? “I loved every minute of it,” she proclaimed without a moment’s hesitation. She shared that in those days women in the military could marry, but couldn’t be pregnant or have children. She did marry and get pregnant, having to knit bigger and bigger cardigans to try to hide her pregnancy until it was found out. Ultimately, Linda became a Forensic Genealogist working on identifying the remains of Civil War soldiers killed on the submarine the H.L. Hunley.


It is clear that this special group of Longmeadow High School graduates looks fondly upon their years. They felt a strong sense of unity then which carries over to today. Several have attended Longmeadow High School graduations for their own children and grandchildren. Asked if they had any advice for this year’s graduates, Phillip Vecchiarelli ‘59, offered these timeless words, “Your success will come from your efforts. Hard work almost always is worth it.”


-Special thanks to the following LHS Alumni 1957-1960 for contributing to this article::



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