A chance encounter, followed by a case of mistaken identity, led to an annual tradition for members of the former Waverly School’s eighth-grade class of 1950.
Members of the class have met annually every summer for the past several years, gathering in Waverly to reminisce about the “good old days” before the Waverly Independent School District merged with the Clarks Summit, Clarks Green, South Abington and Abington Independent school districts in 1950.
The road to the reunions began when Waverly resident and class member Mary Rhodes was in the community’s post office and ran into a friend who was mailing a letter to Peter Klem, one of her former classmates who now lives in North Carolina. Intrigued, Rhodes asked how he was and asked her friend to tell him that if he was ever home visiting, she’d love to see him.
A few months later, Rhodes had a surprise during a moment of panic when her computer crashed.
“I saw a car in my driveway and I was really excited because I thought it was the guy coming to repair my computer,” she recalled. “I came out of the house with a big smile on my face and I said, ‘oh I am so glad to see you.’”
Except, Rhodes’ visitor wasn’t the computer repairman, it was Klem, whom she hadn’t seen in more than 50 years.
“We talked for maybe an hour about the old times and decided to try to get the classmates together,” Rhodes said. “The next year, we found some of our old classmates and invited them for lunch at my house. We had such a wonderful time. It was as if we hadn’t been apart for 50 years. We decided to do it every year.”
According to Rhodes, there were 18 members of her class. Through the research that she and Klem have performed, they have found about nine classmates overall and know of five who have passed away. They are still trying to find Thomas Gregory Hardy and Edwin Childs.
“The togetherness is what sticks out to me the most,” said classmate Mary Ann Nichols. “There was always a togetherness, a unity. We were blessed to have that kind of education and that kind of feeling. It was good. When we joined forces for Clarks Summit-Abington, it was such a transition to the bigger school and a whole new group of people.”
Rhodes eventually became a math teacher in the Abington Heights, Tunkhannock Area, Lackawanna Trail and Scranton Central schools. Nichols is known locally as the former owner of Atlantic Fish in Clarks Summit and Klem became a psychiatrist.
This year, the group met once again and reminisced about their school days, promising to hold another reunion next summer.
“Our lives are different, what we’re doing now and what we did after school,” Rhodes said. “There were some amazing accomplishments in our class. When you think about it, people focus on their college friends, but you’re together twice as long with your grade school friends. We were together for eight very formative years. No wonder why we’re a close group.”