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Manteca High alumni going to party June 18 like its 1969
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The children of the 60’s are getting ready to turn 60.

The Manteca High Class of 1969 is celebrating its 42nd class reunion on Saturday, June 18, with a catered picnic at Northgate Park.

Actually, a group from that class wanted to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their high school graduation in 2009. But their plans fell through because the year before, they were part of the combined reunion of the 1965-69 Manteca High classes.

Still, they were determined to have a class reunion all their own. After all, said Mary Gomes Del Pino who is one of the reunion organizers, “our class (of 1969) is pretty historic because it was our class that they split to form East Union.”

As it turned out, that is not the only thing that’s significant about their graduating group.

“We’re all turning 60 this year so it would be fun if the children of the ‘60s celebrated their 60th birthday!” Del Pino pointed out. To be exact, “most will be celebrating their 60th birthdays this year,” she said.

Indeed, that is a milestone that the graduates of Manteca High School Class of 1969 have something in common with such famous people as former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and other famous names like Donald Trump, Reggie Jackson, and Dolly Parton. The first of about 78 million baby boomers are actually turning 60 this year.

Hence, their 42nd class reunion slogan, “Children of the ‘60s turning 60” picnic party.

The “birthday picnic” will begin at 11 a.m. at Northgate Park located just across the street from Neil Hafley School on Northgate Drive east of Union Road. The picnic lunch will cost $12 per person, and the menu will consist of tri-tip sandwiches, grilled vegetables/portabella mushrooms, hot dogs, green salad, fruit salad, cake, water and sodas.

Class members may bring their adult children and grandchildren to the event, hence the hot dogs on the menu, said Del Pino.

“Beer, wine or any alcoholic drink of choice may be brought from attendee’s personal bar,” added Del Pino.

Picnic tables and shaded areas have been reserved at the park for the class reunion. However, “it is suggested that lawn chairs and umbrellas be brought for the lawn area,” she said.

The deadline to advise the reunion committee that you are attending is June 10. Del Pino and members of the committee are asking fellow classmates to advise other classmates that they might see of the upcoming picnic party. Those who are intending to attend may send checks payable to “1969 Class Reunion” by mail to: Birthday/Reunion, c/o Marlene Machado Danborn, 1215 Enslen Ave., Modesto, CA 95350.

“Remember, we’re going to party like it’s 1969!” Del Pino said.

Manteca High Class of 1969 highlights
Class of 1969 members attending the picnic will have plenty of bittersweet memories to remember at their reunion.

Del Pino, who was the student body secretary who later graduated summa cum laude with a degree in journalism from California State University Fresno, recalled that when their class was split during their freshman year with 250 as Buffalo students and the remaining 250 as East Union students, the Lancer campus was still under construction.

“So we actually had two schools under one roof,” which sometimes created some confusion when it came to identifying which classmates were in which high school “because we had the same classes together (at Manteca High) until the (East Union) school was completely built,” Del Pino explained.

“The other thing that was really sad” about splitting their freshman class was its effect on the Manteca High sports program.

“We had one of the best sports programs. We used to win everything. When they split our school, everything just went…,” Del Pino said leaving the obvious unsaid.

“Neither one of the schools had a good sports program for years because they split the sports teams; they split all the teams – football, basketball – everything. I can remember our homecoming game in 1969, our senior year. We lost zero to 52 – I can’t remember the other school now. But I remember the guys coming in after the game and all of them had their heads down. They were so depressed.”

Manteca High’s sports program was not the only thing that literally went down as far as the Class of 1969 was concerned.

“They tore down the tower and the whole (school) building in 1969 right after we graduated,” Del  Pino remembered sadly.

Her class, or at least the committee members who organize their annual class reunion, also have an ongoing debate every year they plan the celebration and that is, whether they should also invite their former classmates who went on to become the first high school graduates at East Union.

“We have this discussion every year, whether we should invite them or not. We had a bunch that said, ‘oh, we should do it.’ But people said, ‘no, they had their own school’,” Del Pino said.

And while she and the reunion committee have utilized social Internet tools such as Facebook and Twitter to notify former classmates of the upcoming reunion, Del Pino said that she was shocked to learn “there’s still a lot of people” from their class “who don’t have computers, believe it or not. I was really shocked.”

Her “best girlfriend” has a computer “but never uses it,” she said.

“Remember, we were the typewriter generation. We still do stuff on typewriters,” she said laughing.

The Manteca High Class of 1969 had two co-valedictorians: David von Rueden and Russell “Rusty” Carter who is now a practicing doctor in Manteca. Other members of the class who went on to make their names in the national and international arena are Denny Crockett and Don Zimmerman. Both men are in the music business in Utah. Zimmerman became popular among his classmates at Manteca High as the only male cheerleader during their senior year. Crockett became a household name during the Donny and Marie Osmond era on television when he was part of the popular show’s production crew. Del Pino said Zimmerman has informed the reunion committee that he will be there at the picnic.