Museum of Northwest Colorado: Class of 1954 had much personality
August 8, 2014
Every high school graduating class has its renowned clown or comic. The Moffat County graduating Class of 1954 was no different. Alternating between ebullient and anxious views of the future, the graduates mirrored the effervescence of all seniors before and after them. Class comedian and Vice President Leo Romero captured the class in caricature on a banner, and that simple banner surfaced recently at the class's 60th reunion.
Life in the United States was just as serious and just as promising 60 years ago as it is today. Seniors that year worried about the testing of the new nuclear bomb, 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atom bomb that had been detonated when they were an impressionable 9 years old. These seniors had been raised by what has been termed the "greatest generation" — those who struggled through the Great Depression, those whose efforts defeated the enemy in a tremendous worldwide conflict and those who went on to make incredible strides in science, technology and medicine in the postwar years.
The seniors of 1954 were the first graduating class to recite the new Pledge of Allegiance, after President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an order adding the words "under God" to it. The life-saving Salk polio vaccine came out the year of their graduation, banishing the dreaded disease that had killed or incapacitated so many of their age group. The first color televisions were on the market that spring, though it would be a while before they debuted in Craig. These graduating seniors had every reason to think that the sky was the limit for them.
Romero's humorous banner caught the antics of those carefree students on their Senior Sneak Day to Grand Lake. Although their class trip was limited to one day (because of the misbehavior of the Class of 1953 on its three-day trip the previous year), Romero's crayoned art on a muslin sheet caught the spirit of the day. He listed all the names of the seniors and a few comical figures, acting as only seniors can do with their buoyant belief in their own indestructibility. Wilma Gore (Taylor-Baker) hangs her head out a car window with a somewhat alarmed look on her face. Teacher Jack Boyer leans out a vehicle with a sign warning "Better Not Do That!" leaving the viewer to wonder just what “that” was.
The banner was with the Wilson family for a number of years before this year's reunion. They returned it to Elaine DeuPree, who persuaded the group to donate it to the museum. The banner adds to the understanding of the timelessness of the psyche of high school graduates throughout the decades.
Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar for the Museum of Northwest Colorado.