Woodstock Elementary's Class of 1958 reunites
Reunions are fairly common for high school classes, but they are rarer for elementary schools. Woodstock Elementary, however, hosted a reunion on August 10th for those who graduated SIXTY years ago.
Richard Mayor, one organizer on the reunion committee of four, attended the school from 1949 to 1958, starting kindergarten at age four. Mayor was born and raised in the Woodstock Neighborhood at S.E. 43rd and Reedway Street, until he left in 1962 after high school to join the Air Force. Now a retired attorney, Mayor says he is becoming more sentimental as he ages. He recently expressed what organizing the reunion has meant to him.
"It is bringing back all kinds of memories – not only about my classmates and the school, but about the neighborhood. The way things were in the 50's; my family, and the home I was raised in. Being on this committee, and trying to locate old photographs of the neighborhood, is jogging my memory much more than just attending a reunion. I am thoroughly enjoying the experience."
The August 10th reunion is the third that his class has organized. He says, "The first reunion was fourteen years ago. Out of a class of 78, we had about 35 show up. We then had a get together in the park about five years after that."
Mayor says this is his first time to help with reunion organizing. Classmates Pat Miles, Sharon Lockwood Lamvik, and Don Wolf have been very involved in organizing over the years.
As to why Woodstock Elementary has class reunions when other schools don't, Pat Miles says, "I feel a strong connection with grade school friends, because we spent so much time together [nine years]. After school, and in the summer, we had many activities in Woodstock Park organized by some wonderful teachers."
From the 78 living classmates, fifteen showed up this year for the reunion. Fourteen are deceased and twenty-one could not be located. Mayor says, "Of the forty-three that we did find, many would have liked to attend, but have health issues, or spousal health issues. Some live across the country and travel is an issue, too."
Woodstock is the oldest still-standing school in the Portland School District. Established in 1891 as a four-room building, it joined the Portland School District in 1909. In 1911 a new two-story eight-room school opened as a K-8 school in its current location on S.E. 50th between Ellis and Reedway Streets.
The school was originally two stories tall but was partially destroyed in 1980 when the school was undergoing repairs, and a worker's torch caused a fire that destroyed the building's two-story wood frame center. The School District wanted to permanently close the school, but the PTA and Woodstock residents protested and petitioned, and it was rebuilt as a one-story structure, opening again in 1981.
The 60th class reunion included a nostalgic tour of the school and an afternoon picnic in Woodstock Park. Many of the alumni commented on the childhood bonding that took place because of the tremendous freedom and safety they had – to ride together through the neighborhood, sleep outside in backyard sleepovers, and roam and play hide and seek in Woodstock Park.