Class of 1956 Celebrates 50 Years
By Kathleen (Harley) Aeschliman
Friendships forged fifty years ago by the first class to graduate from Dock flourished again as classmates gathered October 15-17, 2006. Following brunch at the Best Western in Towamencin, Dock development director Gerald Benner led us on a tour of the campus with its new buildings and athletic facilities. We then drove to Spruce Lake Retreat for the remainder of our reunion activities.
Back row, from left, Arlene (Clemens) Clemens, Mary (Clemens) Martin,
Esther (Ruth) Shisler, Marie (Gehman) Clemens, Mary Rittenhouse-Schwartzentruber, Kathleen (Harley) Aeschliman; front row, Jon Clemens,
Dave Myers, Dan Lapp, Dave Brunner, Ivan Moyer
Of the original 21 graduates, 11 classmates and some spouses were joined by Janet Martin, former faculty member and one of our class advisors. Her presence helped bring a special perspective to those early years at Dock. Janet explained that in that first year of teaching she was just 21 years old, and the oldest faculty member was our principal, Richard Detweiler, not yet 30 years of age.
Long scattered from Pennsylvania, classmates traveled from Indiana, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona for this time of recreation, reminiscing, and hymn singing. Several who were unable to attend in person sent letters and photos as their way of remaining connected.
Ivan Moyer led our first evening of sharing as each one spoke a bit about the direction their lives had taken. Not everyone had an opportunity to speak that evening, so this session continued on Tuesday morning after a meditation led by David Brunner. "Everyone has a story to tell" insisted Jon Clemens, who led our second evening program. Some told stories of recent events, others told tales from our days as students at Dock.
Monday evening also was a time of remembering our two classmates who are deceased, Eileen (Alderfer) Godshall and Eleanor (Derstine) Schwenk. Special guests were Eileen's husband Clyde and his wife, Anna Mary.
Singing hymns together was a highlight of our reunion. Had Hiram Hershey been able to attend, we believe he would have been proud to hear us singing. Esther (Ruth) Shisler and Mary Rittenhouse-Schwartzentruber, and Merlin Aeschliman (husband of Kathleen Harley) led us as we sang songs and hymns, always wanting to sing "just one more". Nearly half of us continue to be active in church and community music groups.
Activity was welcome after so much sitting and talking! On Monday afternoon, Dan Lapp led a small group on a climb of Spruce Mountain while others did less strenuous activity. Beautiful autumn weather with sunshine and colorful leaves on the trees created ideal conditions for enjoying the outdoors.
The relaxed atmosphere promoted by the reunion planners Esther (Ruth) Shisler, Mary Rittenhouse-Schwartzentruber, Mary (Clemens) Martin, Dan Lapp, and Ivan Moyer allowed us to share in meaningful ways. We're not getting any younger, and those of us who enjoy traveling plan to meet in April 2009 in Chandler, AZ, where David and Maddie Myers will be our hosts.
Both joy and sorrow have been part of the lives of all of us, yet our Christian faith has sustained us and continues to make us people of hope who feel most blessed. Christopher Dock High School provided nurturing of our faith at a crucial time in our lives. As our class gift, we are contributing towards a scholarship fund that can help make it possible for other young persons to attend Dock.