Celebrating 75 years with the Class of ‘44

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of their graduation of Salamanca High School Class of 1944 were (from left) Caroline Carbone, Virginia Coustenis, Jean Buffamante, Norma Bissell, Bill Steckman, and Linda Seitz.

SALAMANCA — The Salamanca High School Class of 1944 celebrated the 75th anniversary of their graduation at a reunion luncheon held at Myers Steakhouse on Friday, Sept. 13.

Originally 144 graduates strong, the class is now reduced to about a dozen living members.

Four classmates were able to attend the reunion and were joined by friends to form a party of seven. Alumni included Bill Steckman, Norma Bissell, Jean Buffamonte and Caroline Carbone. Guests were Virginia Coustenis, Linda Seitz and Amanda Grabowski.

The alumni members, now in their 90s, recalled memories from their senior year, including the fact that they were the first ones to graduate from the Ray Evans Seneca Theatre on Main Street.

They exchanged memories of the food dishes they'd eat during the depression years, such as dandelion greens fried up with bacon and pickled eggs.

“They didn't serve lunch at school,” one ‘44 alumnus said. “We all went home for lunch.”

Bill Steckman remembered that T.C. Moore let him take the day off of school to go hunting during pheasant season.

Some recalled the “Savings Bond Contest” during World War II.

“Anna used to by one every month,” said Steckman. “I go in now once a month to cash them in, and at first the bank didn't know how to process them.”

As reported in the Salamanca Republican-Press in January of 1944, Salamanca property owners in a meeting voted to approve the course of the Salamanca Leaseholders Committee in their conduct of recent lease negotiations and to adopt the committee's recommendations to the new leases. The changes dealt mainly with delinquent lessees.

In June of 1944, the Press reported that “with the exception of the fire sirens, it seemed that every factory whistle and church bell in the city was ringing” following news the Allied Invasion of France shortly before 6 a.m.

On July 24, Musette B. Fancher, wife of the late Albert T. Fancher, died following a three-month illness.

Then in September, the opening of all schools in Salamanca is postponed from Sept. 5 to Sept. 18 due to the infantile paralysis epidemic in the area. Arrangements were also made to ban those under 16 from the Seneca theatre.

Finally, in November, a small plane crashed into a home near Salamanca. No one was home at the time, and the two occupants of the small cabin plane were seriously injured.

Decorations for the occasion included small floral arrangements at each place setting provided by Rose's Garden in Great Valley.

Restaurant owner Wendy O'Neill treated each guest to a chocolate brownie sundae as a special end to the meal.

Linda Seitz, the widow of deceased classmate Kenneth Seitz, offered the benediction before the meal and also provided keyboard accompaniment to sing-along renditions of patriotic songs, sung in honor of “Uncle Sam Day.”

Guests also enjoyed examining a collection of copies taken from the 1944 Salamanca High School yearbook, provided by the Salamanca Historical Museum.