Ware High School - 50th reunion
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
On Saturday, June 29, 2019, Ware High School Class of 1969 held their 50th reunion at the Swift River Sportsman's Club in Belchertown, Massachusetts.
To understand our class beginnings, you need to know where we were born and raised.
History of Ware Massachusetts
"Ware was first settled on Equivalent Lands in 1717 and was officially incorporated in 1775. It is named after the English town of Ware in Hertfordshire.
"In 1716, a tract of land which was a little more than 11,000 acres (4,500 ha) in size was granted to John Read. He named it "The Manour of Peace". He had it in mind to develop it in the style of an English manor, anticipating that it would later become a very valuable country estate. He leased out the land and did not sell 1-acre (4,000 m2) until after his death, when he gave a gift of 200 acres (0.81 km2) to serve as a ministry lot. As time passed, the town of Ware grew up around the old Congregational Meeting House and later became a small center of local manufacturing and commerce.
The actual origin of the name "Ware" is thought to be derived from a translation of the Native American word Nenameseck, meaning fishing weir (pronounced "ware"). The salmon coming down river were forced into traps by the Indians. The Indian word for these traps was nenamseck which meant "fishing basket" or "fishing weir". The weirs themselves were stone walls that jutted out into the river at angles and packed the fish together and forced them into the baskets stretched across the narrow opening between the ends of the weirs.
From this Indian fishing term, nenameseck, the English settlers named the river Weir or Ware. Our town was named after the river that ran through it and thus, we have the origin of the name of our high school yearbook "Nenameseck".
In 1729, the first grist and saw mills were built on the banks of the Weir River by Jabez Olmstead. During the American Revolution there were at least eight taverns and several inns in the area. Two of the most famous were Ebenezer Nye's tavern and John Downing's. After town meetings were held they would often adjourn to the latter establishment. By the 1830's, it was not uncommon to see textile mills dotted along the various local rivers. At this point the Ware community was making the transition from an agrarian economy to an industrially based society. The post Civil War era (1860s–1900s) brought a new prosperity to the now established textile mill town. "Ware factory village", as it was known, sprung up overnight and formed the basis for new growth and development.
For nearly 100 years, the Otis company had been the largest single Ware employer, employing 75 percent of the town's labor force. Cotton had been the primary raw material, and by 1937 denims, awnings and tickings were the principal output. It had been very prosperous until World War I when its employees numbered close to 2,500. By the 1920's, however, the company began to decline due to southern competition and lack of modern machinery.
By the mid thirties, the directors decided to liquidate, although no public announcement was made. Shortly thereafter, the company sold its interests to three "cotton men" – Lawrence W. Robert Jr., Edward J. Heitzeberg, and Paul A. Redmond – all with close connections to Alabama Mills which owned factories in the South.
Instantly, the townspeople rallied to the cause. A public mass meeting was called that evening, and plans to raise the necessary cash in order to forestall what appeared to be the imminent ruin of the town were formulated. The citizens of Ware were able to purchase the mills with the backing of the Ware Trust Company. The working people banded together to buy the plant and founded the Ware Industries to sell stock. The mills became Ware Industries Inc., and Ware came to be known nationwide as "The Town That Can't Be Licked".
The citizens also rallied to save its economic life another disaster. The next year, the 1938 hurricane hit, causing $40,000 worth of damage to the plant. Ware Industries had to borrow $30,000, and the citizens came to the rescue.
In two years, the mill property was again on the tax rolls. By 1942, 14 plants were occupied by 17 firms manufacturing a range of goods—textiles, paper, shoes and machines."
The town has changed its slogan now to: "Somewhere Worth Seeing". I happen to like the old slogan which emphasized the spirit of the townspeople.
"The town gained lands in the late 1930's as part of the building of the Quabbin Reservoir. The reservoir dammed the Swift River in the former town of Enfield, flooding the valley. Four towns—Enfield, Greenwich, Prescott and Dana—were dis-incorporated in 1938 by the building of the reservoir. Much of Enfield and Greenwich became part of the town of Ware, extending the town's lands northward. Today, the town is home to most of the Windsor Dam and its spillway, and the Goodnough Dike, both of which lie within the Quabbin Reservation. Ware's portion of this land is some of the most accessible land in the reservation, with a large lookout tower atop Quabbin Hill. Ware also bears the distinction of being host to the Quabbin Park Cemetery, where most of the graves in the former towns were relocated to, as well as most of the town monuments." My grandfather worked at the Quabbin and he was one of those whom relocated the graves.
Ware is also home to many notable people.
Samuel Colt, inventor of the repeating pistol
At the age of 15, Colt began working in his father's textile plant, where he had access to tools, materials, and the factory workers' expertise. Referencing the encyclopedia, Samuel built a homemade galvanic cell and advertised as a Fourth of July event during that year that he would explode a raft on Ware Pond using underwater explosives; although the raft was missed, the explosion was still impressive. His father financed the production of two guns, a rifle and a pistol. The first completed pistol exploded when it was fired, but the rifle performed well.
Shamus Culhane, an animator, film director, and film producer
He was a lead animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, animating arguably the most well-known sequence in the film, the animation of the dwarfs marching home singing "Heigh Ho". The scene took Culhane and his assistants six months to complete. During this time he developed his "high-speed" technique of animating with quick dashed-off sketches.
Bertha Knight Landes, first female mayor of a major American city
After years of civic activism, primarily with women's organizations, she was elected to the Seattle, Washington City Council in 1922 and became council president in 1924. She served as mayor of Seattle, Washington from 1926 to 1928.
Ruth Baker Pratt, politician.
She was a ember of the board of alderman of New York City in 1925. She was the first female representative to be elected from New York. Together with Reed Smoot, t, she introduced the Pratt-Smoot Act, passed by the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover on March 3, 1931. The Act provided $100,000, to be administered by the Library of Congress, to provide blind adults with books. The program, which is known as Books for the Blind, has been heavily amended and expanded over the years, and remains in place today.
Candy Cummings, major league baseball player, credited by some for inventing the curve ball.
Cummings is often credited with being the first pitcher to throw a curve ball, reportedly in 1867 at Worcester, Massachusetts while playing for the Brooklyn Excelsiors; some sources say later with the Brooklyn Stars. It was not until the Stars acquired catcher Nat Hicks that Cummings was able to use his curve ball. Most catchers of his era stood 20 to 25 feet behind the batter, which made it impossible to field a curve ball. It was Hicks' catching technique of standing directly behind the batter that allowed Cummings to introduce his curve ball. The introduction of the curve ball radically changed pitching, and also changed the way catchers fielded their position.
Cummings said that he discovered the idea of the curve ball while studying the movement sea shells made when thrown. After noticing this movement, he began trying to make a baseball move the same way, and thus created the new pitch.
Joe Giard, a member of the 1927 New York Yankees.
The team was considered the greatest ever.
Billy Jo Robidoux, major league baseball player
He primarily played at first base but occasionally played in the outfield and as a designated hitter.
Billy Jo made his debut with the Milwaukee Brewers. He also played for the White Sox and the Red Sox. His father, George Robidoux, was a history teacher and the baseball coach at Ware High.
Ware High School Class of 1969, class of very talented people!!!!!
We have a Rhodes Scholar, lawyers, businessmen and businesswomen, career military, carpenter, many teachers (elementary-college), engineers, people in law enforcement, electrician, scientist, plumber, laborers, people in the medical fields, government workers, mothers and the list goes on and on.
It is not an easy task to organize a reunion. A heartfelt thank you to Phil and Pam Aucoin and the reunion committee for such a wonderful time!! Phil also promised to head our 100th celebration.
I believe we had 97 students in our graduating class. Unfortunately, we have lost many of our classmates.
Charles Bacon - Denise Courchesne - Douglas Janes - Jeames Horrigan - Michael LaFortune - Michael McBride - Suzanne McQuaid - Ann Motyka - Janice Rys - Theresa Tobiasz.
Massachusetts classmates came from: Ware, Foxboro, West Brookfield, Monson, Byfield, Dracut, Lakeville, Hardwick, Palmer, Grafton, South Hadley, and East Brookfield
Others traveled from farther away: Greenville SC - Hoosick Falls NY - Scottsdale AZ
Arcadia FL - Belmont NH - Avon CT - Alcoa TN - Tacoma WA - Granville NY
Thanks to Phil, recorded music from our time in high school was played. "Those Were the Days" held special meaning for us all.
Year books were passed around and we all recalled our wonderful times at Ware High School.
The event started outside. Phil set up a tent and appetizers were set out for all to enjoy.
A torrential downpour made us all seek shelter inside.
Ritchie and Linda Belcher
We had a large assortment of appetizers: shrimp, meat and cheese platter, vegetables, chips and dips, etc.
Jane (Chrabaszcz) Ciukaj, Stanley Ciukaj and Linda Belcher enjoying some refreshments.
Saved the cake and cupcakes for dessert.
Sandy (Adamczyk) Spierdowis - Judy (Wnek) Pariseau - Mark Sinkoski
Sandy and Judy were both cheerleaders and basketball players.
Roger Pariseau and Joe Opata
Tina (Moulson) Higney, Stan Ligawiec and Karen (Renaud) -Williams smiling for the camera.
Stan was in charge of making the giant paper maché golden Buddha for the Junior Prom whose theme was "In a Japanese Garden". Stan also participated in the Madrigals.
Mary and Dave Gravel, Sandy and Mark sharing stories. Dave and Mary love to dance and attend concerts. Mark likes to follow the Barrett Jackson car auctions.
Susan (Guimond) Szkutak and her husband, Tony, came from Granville, NY.
Linda (Windyka) Pellissier - Mary (Bator) Stachowicz - Sue (Guimond) Szkutak and Jerry Guimond
Judy and Tina
Germaine (Cloutier) Vinskey did not want her picture taken. She is talking with Jane and Stan Cuikaj and Bev (Kivior) Anthony.
I knew, if I waited long enough, Germaine would turn around. Geramine and Jane were both members of Smoke Signal.
Wonder what they were talking about! Bev and Kathy were members of the Girl's Athletic Association.
Germaine and Bev are frowning. It must not have been pleasant. Kathy (Shea) Mlynarski has her back to us. Do you think she was frowning, too?
Dave Wojcik leaned in to speak with Paul Koziol. Paul Jones has his back to us. Linda is getting some refreshments. Mark Boronski is chatting with Mary. Pam (Guzik) is talking with Kathy (Sidur) Novak. Peter, "Tyko", Balicki is walking into the kitchen. He was the chef for the chicken barbecue.
Paul Jones is speaking to Linda Koziol. Bear Koziol spent 6 months in rehab following an accident on his motorcycle. A deer ran across the road and hit him broadside. Bear and Linda traveled from Arcadia, FL. Did you know Dave and Bear were born on the same day? They handed out coasters with their names and "69".
John Vinskey is standing. John is speaking with Michael Skowyra and Kenneth Stefanik. Kenny's wife Linda is sitting behind him. Michael Kade, my husband, is checking his phone.
Mike, Kenny and John played intramural sports.
Stan and Jane looking through yearbooks. Backs to us: Linda and Kathy (Sidur) Novak and Bev
Kathy played intramural all four years.
Jerry and Nancy (Allard) Guimond and Stan
Nancy was a member of the Girl's Athletic Association.
Cheryl Stupski (David's wife) and Cathy (Bush) Manning spent time talking with Bill Hazen and Shirley (Stupski) Hazen.
Cathy participated in intramural sports and the Girl's Athletic Association.
Donna and John Fitzgibbon
Paul Deschamps has the leaf print shirt on. Judy is talking to Mark Leonard. Mark's wife, Martha is the lady with the blue top. Linda Belcher has her back to us. Paul Jones has the hat on and Donna Koziol is behind him.
Dave Smigiel was vice-president our sophomore and junior years
Shirley (Stupski ) Hazen and Bill Hazen. Looking at the back of David Stupski. Shirley was a member of the drill team. Bill and Dave played intramural sports. Shirley was a member of the Drill Team and Smoke Signal.
We can see part of Gary Moulton, Michael Kusek has the Hawaiian hibiscus shirt on. He is talking with Mark and Martha Leonard. The group behind them is Dave Gravel, Jean Wojcik and Steve Mikus. Mary is in front. Behind her is Kathy (Sidur) Novak and a little of Kathy (Shea) Mlynarski. In the back we have Ben, Jane, Phil Aucoin and Karen.
Gary Moulton was a member of the Gym Club all four years.
While we waited for the barbecue to be ready, we all posed for a class picture. Why is it that all the short people wanted to stand in the back? It took forever to get everyone to look at the camera.
Now everyone can be seen. I think this is the only picture of me. I am standing between Linda and Jane. Jeanne (Charbonneau) Morgenstern and John Rogowski came after the picture was taken.
Bev and Mickey Kusek are in the foreground. You can catch a glimpse of Gary Moulton and Paula (Dendor) Majocha. Gerry Majocha, with the white cap, is standing behind Paula. Sue Boronski is carrying the blue purse.
Michael Kusek was a home room manager and banker.
Kathy (Shea) Mlynarski
Gary Moulton is speaking with David Stupski
Karen, Wayne Moulton, Dave, Mark, Ritchie, Kathy, Judy and Gerry Majocha
Mike and Kenny
Getting their point across.
Karen and Wayne
Dave Wojcik was our class president when we were sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Mark played football all four years and he participated in science fairs his junior and senior year.
Dave was the Student Council treasurer for three years. Tina and I were in the Leaders Club, Girl's Athletic Club and Future Teachers of America.
Four of the nine members of the football team whom defeated our rival Palmer with a score of 18-6.
Paul Koziol, Phil Aucoin, Steve Mikus (co- captain) and Paul Jones.
Other senior members that year included: Ken Higney (co-captain) Mark Boronski, Syl Socha, Paul Styler and Mike Skowyra.
All of them played intramural sports. Phil was a member of the Gym club all four years. Steve played baseball for three years.
Rhondalee Deschamps and Martha Leonard
Paula (Dendor) Majocha shares a laugh with John Vinskey and Dave Wojcik
Senior year, Paula was head majorette and she worked on the yearbook.
Bill, Dave and Shirley
Shirley and Bil Hazen traveled from Hoosick Falls, NY
Kathy, Cathy and Cheryl
Stan and Mark speaking with Jeanne (Charbonneau) Morgenstern. Jeanne and her husband Jeffrey drove up from Avon, CT.
Jeanne was class historian our freshman year. She was also a member of the Leader's Club and basketball team.
Mark was a member of Band all four years. He was great on the drums! He and Stan were also in Chorus.
Pam Aucoin and Jean Wojcik taught at Stanley M. Koziol Elementary School the same time as I.
Paul and Rhondalee flew up from Greenville, SC. Paul participated in the Latin Club, Chess Club and he was co-editor of the Smoke Signal his senior year.
Donna Koziol, Linda and Ritchie Belcher
Ritchie was in Gym Club all four years. He was also varsity manager for three years.
Mary and Dave Gravel with Paula (Dendor) Majocha and Dave Smigiel
Donna and John Fitzgibbon
I decided to try and get pictures while people stood in line for their meal. Unfortunately, I did not get to the head of the line in time to take pictures of Dafney and Wayne Moulton.
Tina had that same expression when she did chemistry experiments.
Linda and Ritchie
Germaine and John Vinskey
John Vinskey, Martha and Mark Leonard, Rhondalee and Paul Deschamps
Martha and Mark Leonard Rhondalee and Paul Deschamps
Jane and Stan Ciukaj
Kathy drove up from Alcoa, TN
How many people remember the majorettes? The following represented our senior class: Paula Dendor, Susan McQuaid, Jeanne Charbonneau, Linda Windyka, Mary Bator and Lee Hamelin,
Linda, Mary, Karen and Bev
All four were members of the Girl's Athletic Club.
Mrs. Isabel K. Bradley, the girls physical education teacher, was the advisor of the GAA. She felt sports should be "life long". We had so much fun on those skiing trips to Mt. Tom and Mt. Ascutney.
Karen and Bev smiling and laughing at something.
So many choices!
Judy! Judy! Judy!
Shirley and Bill Hazen
Kathy (Shea) Mlynarski
Cathy (Bush) Manning
Linda Stefanik and Michael Kusek
Mickey Kusek, Jeffrey Morgenstern and Michael Kade
Jeanne (Charbonneau) Morgenstern and her husband drove up from Avon, CT.
Jean and Dave Wojcik Kenny Stefanik and Paula and Gerry Majocha
I guess all three of them were wondering if they could eat half a chicken.
Gerry played baseball for three years. He also was in the Latin Club.
Dave Gravel and Phil Aucoin share a laugh.
Mark Sinkoski was a homeroom manager.
Sandy (Adamczyk) Spierdowis and Steve Mikus
Our meal consisted of half a chichen, salad, baked potato with sour cream and butter and bread rolls
Nancy (Allard) and Jerry Guimond
Sue (Guimond) and Tony Szkutak
Thanks to Peter, Tyko, Balicki and his crew for a delicious meal.
John Rogowski came late but he had a chance to catch up with Bear.
Fifty years and many miles have separated some of us. We left Ware High full of dreams and ambitions.
We came together to reminisce, share stories of our accomplishments, our families and the friends we have met along the way.
It is my fervent wish that the next decades bring as many joys and memories and that we can meet to reminisce on them once again.