Grand class of ’64 gathers one last time

Old grads remember pranks, observe how Moab has changed

Sharon Leikem holds up a pair of men’s briefs she used as a prank when she was in high school.
Photo by Doug McMurdo

Plans to “drag Main” like they did as high school seniors 55 years ago were quashed by hundreds of tourists and truckers Saturday when the Grand County High Class of ’64 held its reunion.

Sharon Leikem, the former mayor of Hays, Kansas, shared her memories – which illustrate how much has changed in the past 55 years.

“Our class has had many wonderful memories of growing up in our beloved Moab,” she wrote. “At our 40th class reunion we wrote bios and most wrote about playing outside until our mothers yelled, “Time for supper!” We didn’t lock our doors at home and we left the keys in our vehicles.

“Those with pickup trucks came to school with guns hanging in the back windows. For fun we would drag main, eat at the Poor Boy Drive-In, A&W and Tastee Freeze. And yes, we had fun beer keg parties at the river. The police were our friends and took us home if needed.”

Not all of her memories were positive. Fully a third of the 89 seniors who graduated on May 28, 1964 have died. One of them, Dick Christensen, was a soldier who was killed in Vietnam on Oct. 5, 1968, according to military records.

The deadly potash explosion at Cane Creek on Aug. 27, 1963 shattered the start of senior year for Leikem and her classmates. Less than a year earlier, their world – and everybody else’s world who was around at the time – fell apart when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

But school was overall a fun time, as it should be. Leikem recounted how they listened to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Bobby Vinton, Brenda Lee, Elvis and the Drifters.

And they were not above raising the occasional teenage rebellion.

“During our senior year the school board banned the annual senior skip day/trip so we organized our own. Most of us skipped one afternoon and went up the river and some friends from other classes joined us,” she recalled. “Late that afternoon as we were heading home, we were surprised to find our police friends waiting for us at the river bridge. They waved as we drove by.

“The school called our parents and told them we had to make up eight hours of school by staying after school each day for a week. Some parents wrote excuses for their children, but not mine. We had many fun and exciting times.”

But as the saying goes, all good things must end. Leikem said this 55th reunion would very likely be the last for the Class of ’64. “We miss those that have gone on before us and those that cannot attend,” she wrote. “Our love for the beauty and memories of Moab will last a lifetime. Go Red Devils!”