Cougars’ Tales


Issue Number 7                 -                  Summer 2001


Camden High School’s Electronic Newspaper

Editor Tom Rose, Class of 1974 - Post Office Box 881 Los Gatos CA 95031

Email  -   Camden Web Site:

Issue available at




Twenty-First Century Reunion A Success


Group Photo – Click for Interactive Version


“What an awesome sight to see so many Cougars gathered for a few hours of reminiscing and story swapping,” declared Brett Welch (‘78) after his visit to Camden High’s fourth annual all year reunion. Yes, this annual event run by Carmen Winters Rous (‘67) was yet another success.  Over 230 Camdenites attended, many with spouses and children.  The visit to the former campus brought back memories for many.  Dinah Zuniga (’77) said, “As I walked around the open buildings we noticed that the building still smelled the same and that triggered so many memories.  I had forgotten how short the corridors were.” Darrell Ray (‘66) upon returning to Arizona from the event commented, “Great trip, had a heck of a great time at the reunion.  I got to dance in the gym, a little weird going in there after so many years.  And the swimming pool has gotten smaller, or it just seems like it.”


Professional disk jockey Rich Campbell (’66) once again generously donated his time spinning hits from the fifties through seventies.  Other functions were run by a handful of volunteers under the command of  Carmen. Thanks go out to Linda Lane, Judy Davis, Jan Lowden Stahl for running booths selling t-shirts and cold drinks, with profits to benefit next year’s reunion, Gary Hinze and William Shepard for helping set-up tents, Brett Welch (‘78) for his donation of bottled water and of course Carmen’s hubby Bill Rous (‘64).


Weather was pleasant, much cooler than last year’s reunion that kept most people crowded under what little available shade there was.  Kurt Nelson (’74), visiting from scorching Fresno joked about needing a jacket for the “cool” San Jose weather.


Teachers spotted at this year’s event included; Will Finck, Richard Gordon, Linda Guelfo, Sherlynn Mar, Herman Osorio, Susie Paluncich and Coach Bob Woods.  Mr. Finck manned a booth providing information on The Camden Foundation and signed up seventeen members that day. 


The newly formed non-profit group The Camden Foundation rented the gym for an authentic sock hop and to hold it’s first board election (see Foundation article in this issue for details.)  


Ed Brick (’74) arrived to cheers as he strode in wearing the reproduction Cougar mascot head he made.  He generously donated the creation to The Camden Foundation for use at events.


The only complaints seemed to be regarding heavy traffic encountered on the way to and from the reunion.  The Gilroy Garlic Festival, held the same weekend, added to the already congested highway 101.  Even reunion creator John Wiley (’66) encountered the slow-moving traffic in his travels from Santa Barbara, making him a late arrival. And travel Camdenites did. Six came from Texas, two from Washington State, two from Idaho, one from Oregon and three from Nevada


Phil Duzet ('73) left the reunion a bit early but later made a re-appearance via airplane.  When first spotted at the reunion, circling overhead, Judy Davis ('67) was concerned that the plane might be manned by some revenge-seeking alumni of Leigh High. Luckily this was no bombing run, merely a friendly fly over by Phil. 


A restored 1969 Corvette with the rare 427 tri-power engine, the kind of car many of us would have loved to own while we were at Camden, was displayed by owner Mike Brown ('74.)  At the reunion’s end the piercing wail of spinning tires announced this cars exit from Camden's hallowed grounds.


Messages posted at the reunion

A message board was a new addition to the reunion. 

“Looking for Dan E. Thirkell Class of ’70.  Haven’t seen him since Viet Nam.” Bruce Risely.

“Trying to locate Mary Avanti ‘65’” from Judy Rush.”

“Where is Debby Herriman (SP?)  W. Shepard


Reunion Photos

Some photos from Saturdays reunion – Click small picture for larger picture.

Pro DJ Rich Campbell ('66)


Tented ladies actively converse (Bev Greene Polyniak (65), S Tankersley (65) and Alice Dutton (65)


Mr. Finck sells Camden Foundation memberships

Ed Brick's ('74) Mascot recreation


59'ers Tom Margrove & Chuck Crowell with lovely ladies


Social Studies teacher Miss Mar

Shirts For Sale

Class of '74 Mike Brown's vintage Vette


Other Reunion Information

Mid-Sixties Grads Plan Tri-Year Reunion

The classes of ’65, ’66 and ’67 will be joining forces for a huge reunion next year.  Set for August third at Lou’s Village Restaurant on San Carlos in San Jose.  Planning began with the Class of ’67’s thirty-fifth reunion.  When it was learned the Classes of ’65 and ’66 hadn’t had a reunion since their thirtieth it was decided to include them as well.  Representing each year in organizing this event are Carmen Winter Rous for 1967, Linda Lavoie Lane for 1966 and Cindy Tomkins Sutton for 1965.  These reunion organizers, led by Carmen, have strove to keep the event affordable.  Dinner and dancing will be a reasonable $55 per person.  Information including reservation form can be found at


Class of ’73 Planning Thirtieth

Jackie Johnson Clark is the contact person for the class of ’73, contact her at


Belated Reunion for Class of ’71

Jim Votano is figuring better late than never for a Class of ’71 thirtieth year reunion.  He has taken up the task of organizing the event to take place in 2002.  If you are from this class or know of others who are, please contact Jim at Jim has put together a small band of volunteers but could use more helping hands if any from this class would care to help.


Camden Foundation Now Official


A way to keep the very spirit of Camden High alive is just one thought behind the newly formed non-profit organization The Camden Foundation.  The organization was developed to provide Cambrian Park youth with tutoring and mentoring programs, to aid the preservation of Camden High and Cambrian Park artifacts and to provide financial help to the annual all year reunion and Cougars’ Tales online paper.  Future goals include the reformation of past Camden Choir and Band, bringing the former members together to once again perform, and the sponsorship of a small Cambrian Park museum. The organization is open to all, whether they are former students and faculty, Cambrian Park residents or those inspired by the foundation’s mission.

The brainchild of former Camden faculty member Will Finck, the Foundation received its official government sanction in March of this year.  Among the business completed on the first Foundation meeting on February 15’th, was the selection of a name for the proposed organization. The membership drive for founding members began at July 28 at the annual all year reunion with close to twenty former students and faculty joining that day alone.  A meeting open to all was held in the gymnasium to introduce the foundation and it’s goals.  In addition a vote was taken for initial officers.  The vote of hands declared that Mr. Finck be president of the Foundation, Tom Rose (’74) vice president, Beverly Green Polyniak (’66) treasurer, Linda Lavoie Lane (‘66) secretary and Scott Rose (’74) historian.   Normal annual membership is $25 but those joining as founding members will have the remainder of 2001 and all of 2002 covered for  $35, with next member payment due in January of 2003.  Lifetime memberships are available for only$500, a good way to honor your alma mater.  Business memberships will soon be available.  Founding members will receive the 2001 membership pin, commemorating a new start for the century and the Foundation, as well as a newsletter to be published twice a year chronicling the Foundations progress.  Membership applications are available at, please help support this worthy cause.


Cougar Camaraderie

The mix of food and Camdenites has become a pleasant recent tradition.  Begun three years ago by San Jose area Camdenites who couldn’t get their fill of socializing with their fellow alumni at the all year reunion, the events have spread to the Sacramento area and even far away Austin, Texas. A couple of faculty members have enjoyed breaking bread with their former students, as well.  Will Finck, a Saratoga resident, has been a regular at San Jose get togethers.   Herman Osorio, who recently relocated to Roseville, finds time to make it to the popular Sacramento dinners. 


Contest!  Caption the Photos from Alicia’s Mexican Food in Cambrian Park Plaza, San Jose California.


Photo Contest!  Identify the people (front to back, left to right) in each of these pictures!  Click on the picture to enlarge.  Send your complete guesses to with the subject line “I know who they are!”  Yes, there will be a prize!


Special hint: one of these photos is not from Alicia’s!
































Where Are They Now?


Judy and Will at a recent

Camden Foundation Meeting

Will Finck and Judy Rush Davis (‘66) write about their lives. 


Will Finck – Faculty Member

I was born in Richmond, California on May 1, 1930.  Born the oldest of two children, my seven-year younger sister now lives in Los Gatos.

I graduated from Richmond High School - the same high school as fellow Camden faculty member Mr. Matulich.  Not knowing what to do with my life (I was the typical uninvolved teenager) I was coaxed to enlist in the U.S. Army.  I served for two years at Fort Ord, California (one of the reasons I joined was to see the world).  I didn't like military service so sixty days after I was released from active duty, I was recalled back and served another 15 months.  This time I got further from home - Camp Roberts near Paso Robles, California.  This was during the Korean War, but for me the struggle was without bloodshed and horror. 


I was released from the service in December 1951 and married the next summer to my
first wife Addie Crooks.  We had four children, but only two survived infancy.  Today my oldest, Suzanne, resides in a group home in Minnesota a victim of a closed head injury that occurred in Hawaii nearly twenty years ago. 

My son, Greg, also resides in Minnesota.  He is principal of a K-2 school of  600 students in the town of Princeton in Minnesota.  He has two daughters and a son  ranging in age from eight to twelve.  His wife Tracey is a part-time professor at Bethany College in Minneapolis


I moved to San Jose in 1958 when I was given my first full-year contract for teaching.  I spend the first year at Campbell High School and moved to Del Mar, which opened in the fall of 1959.   I lasted there for one week when I was transferred to Camden High School where I remained until I took a one-year sabbatical beginning in the fall of 1971.  Until this time I had taught a smattering of subjects, primarily English classes for the average student population as well as Creative Writing and Drama each for one year.  The balance of my career at Camden up to 1971 was spent teaching the senior government class. 
 A few of those years I team-taught, mostly with John McBain who later left the Campbell District to teach at Skyline College in San Mateo County.  I loved drama, but was fearful I would never again find such a talented, hardworking and energetic group of students to work with in producing plays.  I requested I be let out of Drama and was replaced after the one year. 


In 1971 I took my sabbatical, although it was more of a retreat than it was an educational experience.  The magic of the sixties had gone out of education for me.  I couldn't do the things that had worked for me in the past.  I was in the midst of a mid-life crisis.  I returned in the fall of 1972, and was assigned to Leigh High School for the years 1972 and 1973.  They were the worst two years I spent as a teacher.  I decided that I could no longer work with students as I had in the past, so I made a change and returned to school in the field of Special Education.  I returned to Camden in 1974 as a resource room teacher in Special Ed., and remained in that capacity at Camden until the school closed in 1980. 


During this time I entered into my second marriage with my current wife Margaret, we had no children.  In the fall of 1980 I transferred to Westmont High, continuing in Special Education until 1986 when I was assigned as a school counselor.  I retained that job at three different locations and finished my career in 1990 back at Westmont High School.  I continue to work, now as a volunteer working in adolescent substance abuse programs, something I first began in the mid-seventies shortly after meeting Margaret.


On October 30 of last year I lost my dad at the age of ninety-eight, I miss him terribly.  Although he only had an eighth grade education, he influenced my academic life and my teaching.  I have found new energy to do unfinished business because of his inspiration.

I probably became a high school teacher to find what I never found in my own high school experience.  High School was probably one of the most painful times in my life.  I have no regrets, and given another opportunity, I would probably do the same thing all over again, but hopefully, I would do it better.

My newest thing that haunts me is to get a group together and do the play Our Town, for which I have developed a very new kinship.

Meaningfully Will Finck


Judy Rush Davis 1966


Born in San Francisco in the fog on August 5, l948.  Twin, Janice, born 8 minutes later.  Dance lesson started at age three, and of course, a star was born.  Brother Bill born in '51 and Ken in '53.  We moved to San Jose in July of '56 and our house on Lexford Ave. was smack in the middle of a prune orchard.  Began third grade at Steindorf.  It was the first time I was separated from my twin.


Friends, Josephine Chapatte, Susan Rockhold, Kathy Seekins.  Brownie Troop 457.  Andy Amaro lived right across the street.  The Mecurios, Tennysons, Marsha Hammond, the Gaspers, Docettis the Nice's (probably others) all lived on Lexford.  Terry Watts, Doug Adams et al lived nearby.
 In seventh grade we started at Ida Price.  This was the first year it was open.  Discovered boys. Started getting into trouble with my need to share what was on my mind with anyone, including those who didn't want to hear it. Best friends Josephine, Madeleine Edwards, Marilyn Ciraulo. Darrell Ray was one of my first beaux (is your face blushing Darrell?)  I'm not sure if that was Jr. high or High School.
 Spent most of the next four years in the Dean's Office.  My main course of study was business classes.  Miss Guelfo, Mrs. Harmon.  I always had those skills to fall back on, and fall back I did for a number of years.

The teacher who I most admired was Mr. Finck.  For a person who was in trouble all the time,  there was only one place where I was treated normally, and that was in my Senior History class. (He also made history interesting to me for the first time).
Through the years I waited tables, sold insurance, worked in any number of office jobs, expedited for Dysan (right after they discovered floppy discs). Worked at Cambrian Pet Shop, tended bar, toured people around the state of  California as well as the Winchester Mystery House.  Acted, comedied, taught, worked production in movies.  Raised two children, married twice, divorced twice.  Cared for elders, Massaged, never stopped going to schools and taking classes.  Record books on tape for blind people, bought and sold estates (you know, the contents, not the land and mansions).   As you can see, I am a definite candidate for Attention Deficit Disorder.
Right now I am still doing many of the things from the above list.  I live in the mountains behind Los Gatos with my two birds, Picasso and Monet.

Being involved with this Camden list has been very healing for me.  I was not a very happy teenager and suffered more than a little angst.  Before this group, I had pretty miserable memories of high school.  The first reunion was very nerve racking.  And then I learned that lots of people were miserable (why do
 we always think it's just us?)  And I learned that it was all old history and only I remembered the hard parts.  I made a phone call to someone who used to be mean to me, and they didn't remember who I was.  I thank them for that.  I thank all of you for re-entering my life.



We & Our Neighbors Historic Building


Many Camdenites bemoan the changes that have taken place in Cambrian Park in their short lives.  However, just down the street from where Camden High once resided sits a building that has watched time go by virtually unchanged since 1910.  Some of you may only remember it as ‘that old place next to what used to be Lindy’s Bike Shop’ (now a realty office) but this historic landmark has an interesting story to tell.


The early rancher settlers that had begun inhabiting the Cambrian area in the 1860’s rarely socialized.  Roads were bad and travel by horseback was difficult for women and children. By the later part of the century the road system had improved and buggies had made travel more civilized. Born out of social necessity, the pioneering women created their own social club in what was then called the Union District, named for the many local residents who were supporters of the Union during the Civil War. Begun in 1892 when the area was made up of ranches averaging 100 acres with poor roads and no telephones.  We & Our Neighbors became the name and the club’s purpose was simply, “just for sociability.”  


First meeting at the home of Mrs. John Cilker, they drew up a constitution and elected their first president Mrs. Maria Schofield, who was to serve for twenty-five years. Membership was by invitation only and there was a requirement that members own land within the district marked by narrow gauge railroad tracks on the north and east, Los Gatos San Jose Road (now Bascom Avenue) on the west and the foothills in the south.  All twenty charter members are long gone of course, but many of their daughters and granddaughters still meet every third Saturday of the month, just as the original members did over a hundred years ago. 


These monthly meetings were held in member’s homes from 1891 to 1910 and featured entertainment such as shadow pictures, tableaux and recitations.  The November meeting allowed for family and friends to attend and was a great social affair.  This big event often included oyster suppers, square dancing and community sing-a longs.  On May Day members would ride hay wagons to Guadalupe for a picnic.  Social announcements and matchmaking were often a part of these events.  Serious subjects intruded on the sociability as well.  In 1895 the members discussed the women’s suffrage movement and one member read aloud on the “Heroism of Women.”  Still, the majority opposed the suffragists.  Acts of charity were common.  A quilt made for a poor local woman in 1897, a donation of $10 towards a cow for a woman the following year.  Two wagons of relief supplies were donated to San Jose following the 1906 earthquake.


By the early 1900’s the club membership had grown so that holding meetings in members homes was no longer practical.  Club member Mrs. William La Montagne deeded to the group a quarter acre of land, located at the intersection of Union Avenue and Los Gatos-Almaden Road, for the price of one gold dollar.  A gift of $2,650 by Mrs. Schofield provided for the redwood building that still stands.  The new clubhouse included a cloakroom, parlor, kitchen, bathroom, and a room that included a stage and could seat a hundred guests.  Other club members provided for the furnishings and additional expenses.  A piano, at $300, was an indulgence that is still in use at the club. 


Through the years the social club has served the Cambrian Park community.  We and Our Neighbors established the original Home and School Club for the Union School District and the clubhouse served as the first public library for the area from 1950 to 1960. 


Today the building is little changed.  It has survived earthquakes, fires, and more recently, vandalism, to serve a twenty-first century community.  Boy Scout Troop 347, whom the group has supported for over fifty years, helps with upkeep and recently placed historic markers on the grounds.  The stone and cement barrier at the streets edge continues to suffer damage in its attempts to hold back the busy street traffic. No surprise there, it was built to hold back horse and buggy not two-ton steel automobiles. 


No Longer With Us


George Bulkley, Class of 1958

George Bulkley, after a lengthy bout with Lupus, passed away last March.  George was born in 1940 in Pennsylvania and came to San Jose when IBM transferred his father there in the early 1950’s.  An excellent musician, George played trombone and sang and was a member of Camden’s band and choir.  He also founded Camden’s first barbershop quartet, The Cougairs.  George attended San Jose City College and graduated from San Jose State with a music degree in the early seventies. He taught music to elementary students in the Evergreen School District until forced to retire due to illness.  His bout with Lupus eventually cost him both legs and the vision in one eye but he stayed involved in music to the end, singing in his church choir.  Dean Estabrook, a fellow 1958 grad, said of George, he was “a most perfect metaphor for courage, he never complained about his afflictions, but remained positive, generous and caring for all those about him.”  George is survived by a daughter Pera and son Tim, both of whom reside in the San Jose area. 


Gary Lee Farnsworth, Class of 1970

Gary Farnsworth of Grass Valley, Nevada, died August 17 at the age of forty-nine.  He suffered an aortic aneurysm on Friday the sixteenth and passed away the following day.  After graduating from Camden Gary joined the Teamsters Union and worked as a truck driver in San Jose for fourteen years driving for Dick’s Automotive, Western Appliance and California Motor Express.  Gary moved to Grass Valley with his wife and daughter in 1982 working in logging and as a heavy equipment operator.  Among his interests were horses, rodeo, Harley Davidson motorcycles and Caterpillar tractors.  He is survived by his parents, Robert and Marguerite, daughter Dawn, brothers Charles (’72), Daniel and John (’67), sister Suzanne Arias among others.  Thanks to Grass Valleys newspaper The Union for portions of this obituary.  Some may remember Gary’s car while in high school; an orange Camaro set up for drag racing with “Say It Loud” lettered on both sides.


Jan Allax Mirassou, Class of 1959

Jan Mirassou of Live Oak, California, died February 10, 2001.  Born in San Jose, he lived in the Yuba-Sutter area for the past 37 years and was a rancher for the last 45 years of his life.  At the time of his death he was a member of the Live Oak Lions Club, the California Canning Peach Association, a board member of the Prune Bargaining Association and foreman of the Sutter County Grand Jury.  Jan and his wife Sonja Fay Mirassou were found together in their home, each with a single gunshot wound to the head according to local under sheriff Bill Grove.  “The fatal wound to Mr. Mirassou appears to be self-inflicted, and a handgun was found near his body,” stated Grove.  The couple is survived by two daughters, Karen Mirassou-Koch and Shirley Mirassou-Hoag, both of Live Oak.  The Mirassous were preceded in death by son Michael Allax Mirassou.  They had five grandchildren. 


Kathleen A. Nasiatka, Class of 1980

Camden’s last graduating class lost one of their own when Kathy Nasiatka passed on May 7, 2001 in San Jose.  Diagnosed with brain cancer eight years ago, she died in the home she shared with her mother.  While at Camden Kathy was involved with JV and Varsity Basketball and Softball and was a member of the German Club.  Always a sports fan, Kathy was an ardent follower of the 49’ers and Sharks and idolized Joe Montana according to her family.  “Mother was a Green Bay Packers fan and, when the two teams played, sometimes we had to put them in separate rooms because they would ride each other so badly,” remembered Kathy’s sister Julie Kiefer of Gilroy.  She was active at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in San Jose and worked the last 15 years at United Administrative Services, also of San Jose


Raymond R. Ochoa, Class of 1975        

Ray Ocho succumbed to liver problems on May 17, 2001, the same day his father Fidel, age 75, passed on.   A memorial mass was held for father and son at St. Francis Cabrini across from the former Camden campus.  Ray was a member of Varsity Track, Cross Country and the 2000 Mile Club while at Camden and was voted Class Wolf in his senior year.






John Seekins, Class of 1969

John Seekins died of heart failure sometime in the year 2000 (this information was provided by a former neighbor of John’s.)  Both John’s sisters; Kathy Seekins (’67) and Debbie Seekins (’75) attended Camden as well.







Union Middle School Remodel Underway

Union Middle School, formerly Union Junior High, is undergoing its largest construction project since being build in 1949.  All ten schools in the Union School District have begun major construction projects this summer but Union’s is the most extensive.  When completed in the summer of 2003 the school will feature a large plaza anchored by a 4,000 square foot library with attached computer lab.  A new 8,000 square foot gymnasium and performing arts center will have attached locker rooms and a large music building complete with separate practice rooms.  An amphitheater that backs up to the interior stage will be featured as well. 



Saddle Rack Nightclub Hits The Trail

Country music loving Camdenites will mourn the passing of the Saddle Rack nightclub of San Jose.  The largest facility of its type in Northern California, the Saddle Rack, located near the intersection of Meridian and San Carlos in San Jose, featured two stages and six bars as well as a mechanical bull.  Owner Hank Guenther decided on a nightclub after the “Bit O’ Sweden” smorgasbord restaurant concept didn’t catch on.  Looking around at discotheques and clubs in the mid-seventies he decided he liked the “American” look of the country music devotees and in 1976 opened what was affectionately knows as “The Rack.”  Curiously, Guenther was not even a fan of country music at the time; his was merely a business decision, and a fortuitous one at that.  In 1980 the John Travolta movie “Urban Cowboy” was released and the Rack rode the crest of country music’s new hip image.  The so-called “young country” movement of the early nineties also hiked attendance to the club.  A gargantuan place, the club featured notable performers such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buck Owens, and Billy Ray Cyrus.  Even non-country acts such as Ray Charles, James Brown and Ricky Nelson played at the club.  No cover charge and free dance lessons made the Rack a popular spot for singles and many women have said it was the only club they felt safe attending alone.  The last few years saw a waning interest in country music and attendance fell.  Guenther was forced to resort to a $5 cover and the writing was on the wall for the roadhouse.  Rising land value made the large club with it’s big parking lot a target for developers.  Just shy of the club’s 25’th anniversary, Guenther decided it was time to sell.  A senior citizen housing complex is to be built in the club’s spot. 


Lucky Camden Shirt


Ed Brick (’74) only attended Camden in his freshman year before moving from the area but he has become one of Camden’s biggest boosters.  His three sisters were luckier; Genie (’64), Jennifer (’67) and Claudia (class valedictorian ’68) spent four years each at Camden. He wore his Camden shirt, purchased at July’s reunion, on an August trip with his mom Paula.  Luck was with him that day; he won a jackpot at Harrah‘s Lake Tahoe.  Ed believes the Camden t-shirt provided this luck. 


Perhaps one of these lovely T’s (guaranteed to cure nudity) will bring you luck as well.  To purchase shirts go to


Local Amusement Park Opens….and Closes 

Garlic Capital Gilroy was featured on CNN among other national news services when Bonfante Gardens, a 75-acre amusement park opened there last June fifteenth.  The park had been a dream of former Willow Glen resident Michael Bonfante for over twenty years.  Bonfante, best known as the owner of the Nob Hill grocery store chain, took over the grocery business from his father and increased the number of stores up before selling the chain to Raleys.   Bonfante Gardens ( combines Bonfante’s love of trees with the more traditional rides and carnival games.  Among the hundreds of trees planted for the park are the Circus Trees formerly of Scotts Valley.  These carefully grafted trees, formed into various shapes, were also featured at the Lost World tourist attraction, remembered for it’s huge dinosaur figures visible from Highway 17. Bonfante originally intended to have a park simply dedicated to trees but his accountants convinced him it would be a hard sell without carnival rides to entice the kids.  A monorail, two roller coasters, an antique carousel and a host of other rides including the “Garlic Spin” are spread among the beautiful gardens. The park attracted over 280,000 guests prior to closing in September.  The closing, expected to be temporary, was due to one of the financers pulling out, leaving the park 32 million dollars short.  Bonfante hopes to reopen the park this spring. 


Camden 1954-1958 Remembered

Special to Cougars’ Tales from Nancy Miller


Camden High School’s first freshmen class began at Campbell High School in 1954.  Although we attended the same classes as Campbell freshmen we had orientation with only Camdenites.  We formed some allegiance to Campbell High and retained some of their traditions when we finally moved into our own school, such as a summer activities program called Cougars Den (taken from Campbell’s Buc’s Cove).



Beth Russell Rocha (married to Greg Rocha, ‘58), San Jose, CA
Nancy Miller Johnson, Dallas, TX
Jill Chambers Dalton, Lake Alminor, CA
Judy Christian Mitchell, Victoria, Australia


Photo provided by Nancy Miller


The first freshmen class became the first sophomore class and so on until we graduated as the first senior class.  There was tremendous school spirit among that first class as we put in place class assemblies, dances, clubs and support for sports activities.  We had some great teacher and administrative support but I think for the most part the class of 1958 designed a lot of the structure among themselves.


I use a couple of instances to illustrate that leaders were developed in that time period as we were allowed to express ourselves and have a say in what we wanted to leave behind to future classes.  It wasn’t always easy and none of our battles were won without “drawing a line in the sand”. 


The Senior Class assembly, a play, was chosen by someone and was to be directed by the chemistry instructor who shall remain nameless.  The play was complicated and not very well thought out.  The cast was chosen and practices began but the structure was so loose it was obvious it was not going to work.  A group of us got together and decided that if this activity was going to represent the senior class we DID NOT want it to be with this play.  As usual we went to Mr. Bill Maxfield, then Dean of Boys, with our suggestion.   There was a popular late night television show from San Francisco, hosted by Don Sherwood, sort of a prelude to Johnny and Dave.  The host was accompanied by an attractive blond and a combo and featured various acts performing in the clubs around San Francisco.  Our host was Fred McCune and various other class members provided the blond, combo and acts.  One particular act I remember very well.  It was Ernie Kovac’s Nairobi Trio, consisting of Judy Christian, Jill Chambers and myself in oversized coats and guerrilla full head masks.  The show was a great success.


As we approached graduation, we were informed that as the cafeteria was not large enough to hold all the family and friends of the graduates, our graduation ceremony would be held at Campbell High School.  WHAT?  The first graduating class and they wanted us to graduate at a rival school.  Once again, a group of class members met, this time with the principal, Dean Chamberlain, and explained that if we were not going to be able to graduate at our own school we would appreciate it if our diplomas were mailed to us and we would just skip having any kind of ceremony.  We must have had some impact as the track was completed and temporary stadium seating was up in time for our June graduation. 


The class of 1958 was a great group.  Many still live in the San Jose area.  We are sorry that our alma mater is no longer but at least some of it remains and is being put to good use. 


Heard Around the Quad …


How to dress like a hood –

 From Darrell Ray (’66)

“Black shoes/boots, white socks, pegged black Levis, white T-shirt, some kind of shirt, but not tucked in – I must stress that this part is very important!  To top it off, a blue nylon wind breaker.  Hair must be as long as you can get away with and be pulled down in front.  Attitude must be aggressive, you must give people the feeling that being in your way is a very bad thing.”  John Holt (’65) added removing belt loops and rolling the waistband over, removing the Levi rear pocket stitching and pointed shoes with heels smaller on the bottom than the top.  Taps were optional.  Ken Hicks (’63) continued with Butch Wax for the hair, a pack of Camels or Lucky Strikes rolled in the sleeve, and shoes pointed enough “that they hurt like hell to wear all day.”  Ken felt that a rebellious nature was preferable to an aggressive one.  On the female front Barbara Antonucci (’69) remembered crepe paper being stapled around the hem of “too short” skirts.  Meg  Mitchell (’63) mentioned Mrs. Morse picking the hems out of skirts in the early sixties.  Betsy Pierson Fear (’67) remembered being in Camden’s main hall when a fellow student had to kneel down to measure her skirt.  “Of course, before kneeling down, she unrolled her skirt, so she passed the test,” recalled Betsy.  Girls had to wait for “Grub Day” to wear pants, but then “Dress Up Day” meant high heels and nylons.  


“Turn Around” Sounds Nostalgic Note

The song “Turn Around”, used in an advertising campaign in the sixties by Kodak was remembered fondly by many Camdenites.  “I remember it used to bring my mother to tears when it played and she had to leave the room” wrote Mike Brown (’74.)  Mary Ayers (’77) even remembered an episode of “That Girl” where Marlo Thomas sang this song. 


Home Economics Requirements

Meg (’63) remembers needing special permission to skip Home Economics class. 

Her mother was perturbed to find that the money for fabric to make a waist apron had been wasted as the project turned out unusable.  By the late seventies the guys were taking the classes, Brett Welch (’78) remembers. Beverly Green’s (’65) only memories of Home Ec were of Mrs. Plant’s hairstyle, a 1940’s style roll, and her perfume. Mr. O (faculty member Herman Osorio) has fond memories of the bribes of carrot cake and cookies he received from Mrs. Plant to excuse tardy students who stayed late to her clean up.  Joan Moga took three years of Home Ec at Camden, and then married a chef.  Joan still remembers Mrs. Plant’s many rings, one on every finger.  The subject of the male equivalent, shop class, came up as well.  Rick Green (’67) realized that he still has his tool box made in Ida Price’s metal shop, his father has the funnel from the same class and his mother still uses the letter holder made in wood shop, Rick adds, “They don’t make things like they used to.”  Both sexes admitted that typing classes were certainly a good idea now that having “keyboard” skills is practically essential.   Mark Havens (’76) was glad he took home ec, though he learned more on how to sew at home than at school, a skill he has used professionally to produce historical garments for Hollywood productions. Judy Clark Rarick (’66) also appreciates the skills she learned in that class, she still makes some of her own clothing, including lined suits.


First Jobs

Beverly Green (’65) first worked picking apricots on the Cirone ranch on Union Avenue; she has memories of the heat, fruit flies, sore hands and legs tired from standing all day.  Her next employment opportunity, the Winchester Drive-In Theater was much preferable.  She got to eat all the popcorn she wanted. Ken Rush (’72) had friends who worked the same drive-in walking around turning off the speakers as patrons left.  “They thought it was great to get paid to walk around the movie theater joking and smoking with friends and getting paid for it,” stated Ken.  Newly graduated Mike Rose (’71) was accosted by an armed robber while performing this same task back in August 1971.  A revolver placed at his head was used to convince the manager to open the safe; the bandit disappeared into the night with a popcorn bag full of cash.  Mimi Gogolewski (‘80) enjoyed working the Winchesters ticket booths since her friends worked in the other booths and phones connected all.  “We got paid for doing what we would have been doing anyway,” she says.  Mimi remembers the down side being that the booths did get very cold in the winter.  Deana Williams (’79) didn’t work at Winchester but does remember watching the movies from her roof on Dallas Drive and the traffic to the theater on weekends backing up to the point of blocking traffic in the area.  Brett Welch (’78) admitted sneaking though a fence bordering highway 17 to avoid paying, Marc Johnson (’76) drove a tow truck for Dick’s Automotive and would just tell the ticket seller that they got a call for a tow inside, he would be allowed in free – date and all.    


SKORVAN and Hi-Y’s

High school service groups like Skorvan, Beachcombers and 7-11 were a mainstay of the sixties. Service organizations sanctioned by the YMCA, they were often referred to as Hi-Y’s.  Males only, membership by invitation only and included the usual initiations and hazing of rookies popular at the time.  “I joined for the status and the fun,” says Rod Dwyre (’66.)  Many of Skorvans members were surfers. 


Lawn Skating

The chilly February mornings with snow visible on Mount Hamilton reminded Cindy Mankins (’72) of “skating” across the frosted lawns while walking to school as a child.  “We wore dresses in those days and you sure were uncomfortable if you slipped and fell,” Cindy remarked.  Additionally, laments over children being driven to school rather than walking with friends were mentioned. Meg Mitchell (’63) mentioned, “Walking to school with the neighborhood gang was the official start of the school day!”


Home Delivery

Mike Brown (’74) asked if anyone besides him bought donuts out of the back of a bakery van while on the way to school.  Apparently the Ford delivery truck would park for a short time near the school, the double rear doors were opened exposing the long deep drawers that held the baked delicacies.  Deanna Snow (’72) remembered it as a Colonial Bakery truck.  Diane Price (’67) recalled the trucks as beige with green writing, her mother would purchase bread regularly from them.  This thread brought back thoughts of Everet the local ice cream driver for Marc Johnson (’76.)  Ken Rush (’72) brought up the “fan order wheel” that would be set for the desired product and left for the milkman. 


All Year Reunion Re-ignites Romance, Marriage Ensues

Old flames Beverly Green (’65) and Dennis Polyniak (’65) found the smoldering embers fanned when they reunited at the all year reunion last year.  They married five months later and have returned to live in San Jose once again.


Bodega Memories

An old cannery in Campbell was transformed into a place to drink and hear good live music.  Robert Fudge (’66) remembered seeing Hot Tuna, who recorded an album there, John Lee Hooker, The Doobie Brothers, Cold Blood, and Tower of Power among others. The Bodega became Gilbert Zapps, which featured video games in addition to the music and booze.  The spot is now an office building.  


Food For Thought

Restaurants continue to provide a happy walk down memory lane.  Spurred on by Ric Bretschneider’s (’74) request for the names of local restaurants still operating in their original location with similar menu items, dozens of posts were made.  Ric started by offering up Kirk’s Steakburgers on Bascom Avenue, there since 1966.  Cindy Mankins Moore (’72) mentioned downtown spots Original Joes (since 1956), the Burger Bar (’53) and the Five Spot.  Cindy also brought up DeCicco’s Italian Restaurant on Bascom. Andy’s Barbecue on Campbell Avenue, serving delicious ribs since 1965 was owned by Camden cheerleader Carole Unzen’s father, the family still owns and operates the restaurant.  The Chinese take-out in Hacienda Gardens got several mentions, it’s been in place since the mid-sixties. 


Trader Lou’s

Restaurant talk morphed into amusement parks.  Mike Brown (’74) remembered the small kiddie amusement area at Westgate shopping center in the 1960’s.  Frontier Village and the still operating Happy Hollow came up of course.  One that took awhile to name was the little carnival ride site on Monterey Road named Trader Lou’s.  It also featured a fried chicken restaurant and a small old west museum.  According to my sources Lou Bonnett was the owner, and the building, converted from a farmhouse, used to be a speak-easy in prohibition days.  A tunnel led from the basement of the building to an empty field next door.


Minimum Wages

Denise (Holmes) Long (’75) boasted of her first job’s wage, a whole $1.90 an hour.  John Holt (’65) topped that with $1.40 working at Karl’s Shoes at in the Hacienda Gardens center.  Meg Mitchell (’63) recalled making $1.45 an hour working for Manpower in the mid-sixties. Of course baby-sitting only paid twenty-five to fifty cents an hour at the time, if you were lucky soft drinks and potato chips were included mentioned Judy Clark Rarick (’66.)  Joan Moga (yes, Fritz’s sister) earned $1.87 an hour at the now closed Pruneyard Cinemas in Campbell.  Working out to be about $20 a week, she managed to spend it all at Foxmoor Casuals clothing store and Tower Records back when they sold records.


Cruising First

Cruising First Street is a common 1960’s memory for many from Camden.  Downtown’s King’s Drive-In along with Mel’s and the A&W on Bascom were resting spots for the hot cars of that American Graffiti era.  John Holt (’65) and Darrell Ray (’66) remembered the hot cars of those times, the ’57 Chevy’s, 396 Chevelles, and their brethren.  Dennis Byron (’66) recalled the time he and Chuck Bona Sera, son of the owner of Bona Sera Chrysler Plymouth, took a police cruiser sans door emblems that was being set up in the dealerships garage out to cruise First.  They didn’t make it downtown before being pulled over by a multitude of legitimate patrol cars.  Dennis figured they would be arrested but they got away with merely a ticket for illegal lights in the back window. 


Time Goes By For Time Capsule

Ken Rush (’72), along with the rest of us Camdenites, is still hoping someone can come up with information on the time capsule buried in 1971 at the corner of the campus where Camden Avenue and Union Avenue intersect.  Ed Brick (’74) and others have vague recollections of this event but nothing to indicate where exactly it was buried.  The capsule was to be exhumed and opened in the year 2021.


Overcrowding Requires Shared Lockers

Barbara Driskel Rogers (’66) and Meg Mitchell (’63) remembered all students having to share lockers due to overcrowding. “I can remember sharing with two others. It was really fun.  My Dad made wooden shelves for us so we could separate our books,” said Barbara. 



Yes, back in the old days a local telephone prefix used a name to represent the first two numbers as a means of making memorization easier.  Most Camden grads lived in the Essex area, meaning their phone numbers, sans area code, began with E = 3, S = 7.  As example, Fran’s Bootery in the Cambrian Plaza could be reached at Essex7-0129.  Commonly people would spell the phone number as in ES7-0129.  The mid-sixties saw the passing of this practice.


Fran’s Bootery Free Foot X-Ray

Speaking of Fran’s Bootery, several Camdenites including Rick Green and Bob Baker (both ‘67), recalled the foot X-ray device that would allow you to see through your shoes and flesh to observe the bones of your feet.  The idea was to see how comfortably your feet fit in the right shoes.  It didn’t take long for those pesky safety advocates to get these devices removed from stores. 


Blackberry Farm

Darrell Ray (’66) was eating a helping of blackberry pie when the memory of his Ida Price’s eighth grade class trip to Blackberry Farms in 1962 came to mind.  Gary Hubbs (’67) remembered the Price class of ’63 visiting that spot in Monte Vista as well. 


Mr. Babe & Other Signs

Pre-Silicon Valley signage became a point of discussion, much of it centering on the Babe’s Muffler shop giant.  Currently located on the Alameda, he was borrowed once for  a Camden senior prank.


Humanitarian Camdenite

High school teacher Gary Hubbs (’67), and open list member, regularly takes groups of student volunteers down to Costa Rica to do humanitarian work at an abandoned children’s shelter as well as doing scientific work saving the endangered leatherback sea turtles.  


Outdated Directions

Judy (McClure) Crooks (’67) posted this amusing item regarding navigational landmarks; “I was just thinking how it's kind of funny how we describe places by
landmarks. I was recently trying to tell someone where the Radio Shack was
on Union Ave. Went something like this:
Across the corner from where the Jack-in-the-box was, across the street, on
the same side, from where the Burger Pit used to be, Kitty-corner from where
the 31 flavors was and where the Fry's and drug store and liquor store used
to be, but is all houses now. Guess what? He knew where I was talking about!”


Blossom Valley Tours of Old

Ken Hicks (’63) remembered simpler times in Silicon Valley – “Back in the early 50's or late 40's, the number of orchards and trees were so plentiful, and when in bloom so fragrant and beautiful, that they had the blossom valley tours through the Cambrian area up to Blossom Hill Road and around.  I remember, err I mean I was told about the parades of antique cars that would tour when the trees were in bloom.  Of course this was a time when the only paved road was Bascom (then San Jose / Los Gatos Rd.), there were no stoplights, only signs, and every road in Cambrian Park was dirt.  The Cambrian Plaza was a swamp where my dad used to duck hunt and the only store around was Mac's Market and Daughtery's Drug Store.  Camden Avenue had another name but I cannot recall what it was.  The only two elementary schools were the old two story wooden building at the corner of Union and Los Gatos / Almaden Road and also Union Elementary for older kids.  Parker didn't exist and I don't believe many of the others did either.  If you lived in Cambrian Park, you went to Campbell High, as the only two were Campbell High & Los Gatos High (extreme rivals).”


Rock Salt Loaded Shot Guns

“Did local farmers/ranchers really tote shot guns loaded with rock salt?” pondered Ken Rush (’72.)  Raids on fruit orchards by youthful Camdenites were apparently very common in the fifties and sixties.  Equally common was the story of orchard owners protecting their livelihood via the above method.  Although all feared the rock salt none could ever remember shots being fired.  Not to say that violence didn’t ensue.  Bob Baker (’67) recalled one incident:  I used to raid those orchards from about 1955 on.  I remember running home one day after a farmer thru rocks at me and Ron Boone.  I got hit in the head with one and was bleeding profusely behind the ear.  I burst into the house and scared my poor mother to death.  She asked what happened and I told her "some bastard hit me with a rock cause we were picking cherries".  She washed my mouth out with soap for saying the "B" word.  Justice was just a little different in those days. 


San Jose’s Last Lynching

A bit of San Jose history appeared in the open list brought up by Brett Welch (’78). He mentioned his uncle’s memorable arrival from Chicago in the evening of November 26,1933.  Disembarking from the train in downtown San Jose he was drawn to a crowd gathering in Saint James Park.  Intrigued he drew closer only to find it was a lynching.  Yes, Brett’s uncle had happened upon the famous mob lynching of the two men suspected of killing Brooke Hart, the son of Harts department store owner.  When it was established that Hart had been killed immediately, even though a ransom of $40,000 was demanded by the kidnappers, a mob of thousands formed outside the jail, broke in and hanged the two men across the street.  Then Governor “Sunny Jim” Rolf refused to call out the National Guard to protect the kidnappers feeling the lynching would provide a “lesson.”  The hanging trees, which stood mere feet apart, were so damaged by souvenir collectors that they had to be removed.  John Holt’s (‘63) mother and Jim Walsh’s (’64) parents were among the witnesses to the event.


Dodge/Slaughter Ball

A national news story calling for a ban on school sanctioned dodge ball games due to injuries reminded Mike Brown (’74) of his love of that game while at Camden.  This is a description from Brett Welch (’78), another fan of the game; “We usually got to play Slaughter Ball on rainy days.  All the bleachers in the gym were pulled up, the floor was wide open, and the coaches would put six volley balls either in the basketball jump circle or across a line at mid-court.  One blow of the whistle and mayhem ensued. For a freshman, Slaughter Ball was an intimidating initiation rite.  But once you got through your first one it was a blast.  It was one of those PE sports where a freshman could tag a senior and get away with it.”  Gary Hubbs (’67) replied regarding what was then called slaughter ball, “Broken glasses, bloody noses, and total chaos.  That’s slaughter ball.  Great fun!”


Howdy Neighbor

Camdenites were surprised to see the Santa Clara County Fair in May.  Though this was the second year for an early fair, it still seemed odd for old-timers used to the fair being in the fall. Fair management felt the early date might spur school groups to visit.  Attendance fell to record lows.  By the way non-locals, the folksy “Howdy Neighbor” greeting has been long gone, along with the old farmer mascot, not hip enough to get Silicon Valley types interested in visiting. 


What Time Is It?  TV Time

Howdy Doody’s call of “What time is it kids?” came forth from a nostalgic Darrell Ray (’66.)  Linda Lavoie Lane (’66) also reminisced about Howdy’s fellow cast members Buffalo Bob, Clara Bell and Chief Thunderthud.  Howdy Doody ran from1954 to 1959. “Out of the western sky comes Sky King” was a call many Camden grads remembered.  This show, with it’s “cowboys and planes” theme began in 1951 but was syndicated throughout the sixties.  Larry Cone (’65) recalled having a crush on Sky King’s niece Penny and driving his parents crazy looking for a model of the twin prop plane Sky King flew.  The marionette shows, Supercar, Fireball XL-5 and Thunderbirds and Winky Dink, the show where you placed a plastic covering over the TV screen to draw on were also affectionately recalled.  Speaking of television, Patt Maden (’67) remembered her family winning a color set from the Star & Bar on Union Avenue in the 1950’s.  A handy item for a family with seven kids but a year after winning it, Patt’s mom decided the kids were watching too much and gave it away.  Roy Rogers, Rin Tin Tin, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (“I arrest you in the name of the Crown!”) and Life of Riley were other old shows mentioned.  Local TV favorites Mayor Art, Fireman Frank, Captain Satellite and Skipper Sedley were fondly remembered as well.


Rock & Roll Radio

“I remember when KEWB sort of supplanted KYAKLIV came later still, I think.  Listening to the “in” radio station was the first thing I ever did that was in the slightest degree cool or hip,” stated Meg Mitchell (’63.)  No surprise that sixties rock & roll comes out on top with Camdenites, with fifties “oldies” following closely.  A couple of Camdenites remembered the KYA sponsored charity walk from San Jose to San Francisco in the early sixties.  The fifty-mile walk was described as “an amazing experience” by participant Trina Forest (’64.) 


Cutting Class

“As a hood you kind of needed to cut class at least once or twice a year to keep your image up”, according to Darrell Ray (’66.)  Sliding down the mossy spillway at Guadeloupe Dam was one a favorite diversion and the old stand by, forging absence letters, saved the miscreants from harm.


Local Lottery Winner

The winning lottery ticket for a 141 million dollar prize was sold at the Union Avenue Liquors in the shopping center containing Dunkin’ Donuts across from Camden.  News vans hovered around the station for days waiting for the winning ticket holder to come forward.  Long time storeowner Alex Wang was even interviewed on the Good Morning America television show.  Hopes of a former Camden student winning and becoming a big supporter of The Camden Foundation were dashed however. The winners ended up being Cambrian Park residents Al and Carmen Castallano, whose children attended Leigh High.


Silicon Valley Smog

“Dad, the air burns my eyes here,” stated Bob Fudge’s (’66) daughter upon arriving at San Jose Airport in mid July.  Bob and his daughter live in Ketchikan, an island in the south east part of Alaska, and has not been back to the Valley in over twenty years, this was his young daughters first exposure to air pollution.  Apparently the air quality at their South East Island is superior to ours.  Rick Green (’67) did point out that the air has actually improved since the late sixties due to improvements in auto emissions.  Imagine being able to see the Golden Gate from Blossom Hill Road, according to Jim Bickmore (’61) you could do just that in the late forties.  Jim felt the air was the worst in the early seventies, “There were days where you couldn’t see any foothills in any direction.” 


Surfs Up

Recalling the dances held at Santa Cruz Boardwalk in the sixties, Darrell Ray (’66) stated, “I did feel a little nervous about being in Surfer’s Heaven.”  Memories of cruising the strip in front of the Coconut Grove in Jim Kurn’s mother’s 1959 Cadillac convertible, “What a boat that was.”  Fellow bad-boy John Holt (’65) recalled camping with friends at the site where the marina now lies and trying to find someone to buy them Rainer Ale or else settling for cough syrup. Darrell couldn’t quite recall “what they used to call those guys that rode around with a surf board on their car and never put them in the water.”   

Larry Cone (’65) was first to remember the term “Gremmies” to describe the pseudo-surfers, Meg Mitchell (’63) recalled them being called Hodaddies.  John remembers walking to the Los Gatos bus station, traveling to the Boardwalk and renting a surfboard from Otto’s near the Dream Inn and this was back when he was fourteen.  Bob Baker (’67) remembered how the girls watched the surfers and talked about them, “…made me realize I needed to learn how to swim.”  Ed Brick (’74) remembers preferring the Boardwalk’s salt water taffy to the surfing but his athletic sister Claudia (’68) has a nine and a half foot mahogany board with a stripe down the middle. 


Dress Code

Camden’s dress code and the date that it fell comes up as a point of conversation periodically on the open list.  The always-informative Meg Mitchell (’63) recalled that in Camden’s early days “girls had to wear either a dress or skirt or jumper every day except one special day in May, Bermuda Day (which was always foggy, windy and freezing!)  Our skirts were supposed to be long enough that if you knelt down, your skirt wasn’t more than one inch above the floor.  You couldn’t wear spaghetti strap tops – I don’t think so anyway – and of course no one at that time had ever dreamed of going bra-less.  In the days of ratted hair, your hair wasn’t supposed to stand up more than an inch above your head.”   Tamineha DelGrande Poe, ‘78 recalled a Cambrian school outing to a local colleges planetarium.  Her mother, imagining it was a casual affair dressed Tamineha and her sister in slacks.  She recalls, “When all the children lined up to go in the planetarium, Mr. Ely yanked little girls out of line one by one.  After the first four girls (of which I was one) everyone realized that we all had slacks on.  He scolded us and told us what a disgrace we were to our families, our school and our community.  He wouldn't let us go inside until the lights were turned off so that no one else would see HIS girls wearing pants.”  Gilda Grozdanich remembers being a seventh grader at Ida Price Junior High in 1970 when girls were first allowed to wear pants at that school, “but they couldn’t be jeans, they had to be slacks” Her mother had to write the school a permission slip for she and her sister to wear pants.  The boys seemed to come under less scrutiny but Gary Hubbs (’67) commented that at the time, boys’ dean Ernie Lee was not fond of hair that came over the ear.  “I do recall someone coming to school with a mohawk in 1966, said Gary who added, “as I recall he was suspended.”  Judy Clark Rarick (’66) added that in her senior year David Carney was suspended for having his hair too long.  Apparently he had been warned numerous times by Dean Lee and by May of that year he had had enough. Apparently the rules for dress at Camden were eased in 1969 as Barbara Driskell Rogers (’66) remembers her sister Christine from the class of ’69 wearing Levi jeans her senior year. Steve Salvador (’74) has fond memories of his female classmates attire, “I remember the girls having to wear dresses and wow, they got short!  Then they let them wear pants and we guys thought we would miss the mini’s.  Then the girls all started wearing Ditto’s, which looked like they were sprayed on.  We loved it.” 


Local Missing Woman Faculty Member’s Daughter

Former faculty member Will Finck reported that a missing woman from Los Gatos, Jeanine Sanchez Harms, is the daughter of former Camden Spanish teacher Mr. Sanchez.  At Camden for only one year beginning in 1961, Mr. Sanchez continued to teach at other schools in the district.  The local papers have been covering the story for several weeks with no suspects at this time. 


Site Originator Marries

Camden website and mailing list creator John Wiley (’66) married Anne Cameron on August seventh in Santa Barbara.  Cougars’ Tales wishes these two lovely people the best.


Winchester Drive-In

Always a subject that evokes fond memories, Winchester Drive-In of Campbell was brought up by Kurt Nelson (’74) recalling a story of, what else, sneaking into the drive-in.  Amazingly, six foot two Kurt and six foot three Steve Salvador (’74) were both able to hide in the spare tire well of a Rambler station wagon.  Trina Tiller Pollman (’79) cited her similar crime, hiding on the back seat floor with her older sister Tanja’s (’75) friends using her as a footrest.  Jim Votano’s (’71) related an incident involving fellow classmate Tim Shelton (’71).  Both intended to apply for employment at the drive-in.  As Jim tells it, “We rode over on Tim’s Honda 305 Dream motorcycle.  After filling out the application and a quick interview, we were given the brush-off.  Being a little angry, Tim decided to race through the parking area where the asphalt resembles waves, rather than drive out on the regular road.  As our speed increased, his ability to stay on two wheels decreased.  The ensuing crash took out a speaker pole and left us both with a lot of road rash and no job.”  Note: Cougars’ Tales issue three has a short article on this drive-in. Adds Elementary/Junior High Schools

The web’s most popular alumni site, ( has added elementary and junior high/middle schools to their site of high school, college and military listings.  This may offer a chance for Camdenites to get in touch with their old neighborhood friends who moved from the area prior to attending Camden.  Note: is a commercial site that charges for contact information.


Childhood Insults

Email shouts of “Farnham Flunky” set off a recollection of the slurs of childhood.  Sophisticated humorist Ed Brick (’74) recited the famous Ida Price salute, “I P, U P, we all P for I P.”  Houge hogs and Price Pigs were phrases retained in the vast memory of Camden Foundation historian Scott Rose (’74.)   Kurt Nelson (’74) recalled popular insult Houge Hoboes. 


Games Kids Play

Elementary school memories continued to surface with the games of our youth as subject.  Marbles was popular throughout the fifties and sixties.  Jump rope, ever popular amongst girls and Ed Brick (’74), was mentioned of course along with its cousin Chinese jump rope (played with a elastic band stretched between two peoples legs.)  Another form of jumping game, involving sticks manipulated by two players as another stepped between them, was mentioned by Patty Finnell (’79.)  A “cherry bomb”, a no-handed flip on the bars, was a youthful daredevil move of Patty’s as well. Cindy Tompkins Sutton (’65) remembered jacks, Trini Tiller Pollman (‘79) recalled End Zone.  Handclap games (Mary Mac, Say Oh Say, Playmate) and hopscotch were favorites of Mary Ayers (’77) at Cambrian.  Tetherball was big at many grade schools.  The hand manipulated folded paper “cootie catchers” made mention as well.  Cambrian students recalled having to “freeze” in place when the recess bell rang, not moving until instructed by the teacher serving yard duty.  


Teachers, Good and Bad

Elementary teachers both good and bad came to mind as the open lists members thought back to their distant youth.  Metzler’s first grade teacher Mrs. Brandt, a large, loud woman, came out on top for “most mean.”  Mark Beck (’77) remembers being shaken by the shoulders while Mrs. Brandt shouted, “I’m going to shake the living tar out of you!”  Trina Tiller Pollman (’79) cited an incident as well, “I had Mrs. Brandt for first grade and she punched me in the stomach because I took my finger off the paper.”  Kelly Mankins (’80) had to pass Mrs. Brandt’s house on her way home from school, “I remember we would run by her house just in case she was there.”  Remembered fondly by former students was tough guy sixth grade teacher Ed Foglia, also from Metzler. Favorite punishments of his were duck-walking and holding dictionaries up on extended arms.  Foglia student Joan Moga Watkins (’78) remembers an attempt “to get away with using the “F” word in class.  Held up a lot of dictionaries for that.” Debby Harrison Gardner (’67) had Mr. Foglia as a fifth grade teacher at Steindorf, “He was great.  I had a terrible crush on him.  My mom still teases me about it.”  Farnham’s Ernie Anderson, in his brown corduroy suit, was another tough but good instructor according to Camdenites.  Deborah Paris Raiche (’72) cleverly wrote, “I had Mr. Pfaff for Core in 7th grade at Ida Price.  He loved vocabulary and was a great teacher.   "Indubitably" we learned the spelling and meaning of many a multi-syllabic word from Mr. Pfaff.  He was "loquacious" and "amiable" but never "facetious." 


Redwood Glen Remembered

Popular overnight trip destination Redwood Glen in Scotts Valley held fond memories for many who grew up in the Cambrian school district. Primarily a spot for sixth grade classes, activities included nature studies, including the analyzing of animal scat, and hiking.   A number of open list members spent a week there as counselors while at Camden, including Brenda Erickson Park (’79.)  “I had two cabins of boys since one of the counselors didn’t show up,” recalled Brenda, “ As a mom of five boys, I often wonder if God was preparing me for that scenario.” 



Camdenites Seeking Same. 


 Jackie Johnson Clark (’73) is updating the address file for the Class of
, thirty year reunion. If you are from that class please contact her at


Lindy Kirkham (’74) is seeking David Patrick Cunningham (‘75.)


Patti (Bainter) Young class of 72 would like to get in touch with LaRae Albuquerque (’72) and Nancy Gibson (’72.)


Bird’s Eye View


Aerial views of Camden shortly before it’s closing.  Thanks to faculty member Sherlynn Mar for the donation of the photos to the Camden archives.


View from the North to the South.  Camden Avenue is at the top of the picture with Union Avenue at left.  Notice the ’78 still painted in the parking lot.  Can you spot anything else of interest? 



A second shot from West to East.  Camden Avenue arcs above the school, with the St. Francis Cabrini property in the top left corner.  The district bus yard is in the top right corner near the track.



End Remarks


Cougars’ Tales is interested in your Camden and Cambrian Park story ideas; please contact the editor at  The editor is also looking for photographs of Camden High and early photos of the Cambrian Park area.  Especially sought after are pictures of the burger joint across the street from Camden that closed in the mid-sixties and the trampolines that operated at Cambrian Plaza in the sixties.  Special thanks go out to Ric Bretschneider (’74) for his help putting this issue on the web.  Thanks to John Wiley (’66) for creating the Camden web site and mailing list, and Ken Rush (’72) for running the Camden mailing list.  All articles and most photographs by Tom Rose unless otherwise accredited.