60 Years Strong
Bellaire’s first “full” graduating class celebrates 60th reunion
Have you ever seen a Bellaire Belle dancing in a long, pleated skirt? That’s exactly what the Class of 1958 - Bellaire’s very first “full” graduating class, and the first group of Bellaire Belles – remembers.
“Our uniforms were white, pleated skirts that went almost to our ankles,” says Malbie Parker Kelly, one of the first Belles and the first of several family members, including two grandsons, who graduated from Bellaire. “We looked like bell hops with our little hats! And we had all these guidelines like if you went on a date after the game, you had to change out of your uniform, and you couldn’t eat in your uniform. And if you got caught smoking or drinking in it, you would get kicked off, although that didn’t happen much then.”
Malbie’s class – 94 of them – came together recently, Oct. 20, to celebrate their 60th reunion. These were the first students who went all the way through sophomore year to senior year at Bellaire (a freshman class was added two years later). They celebrated their 60-year friendships with parties at Cadillac Bar on Friday night and Evelyn’s Park on Saturday night. Nobody wore a Bellaire Belle uniform.
Janet Redeker, a member of the Class of ’58 and a retired schoolteacher, pulled classmates together for the big weekend. “We had a 55th, but it wasn’t real big, so when this 60th came along, I just started gathering a committee together and we got it going,” she says. “It’s so much fun, because you get to see all these people you haven’t seen in a long time. And we’re getting older, so you don’t know how many more of these you will have!”
“Bellaire was such a good school,” Malbie remembers. “It kind of reminded you of Grease (the movie) in a way. There were no guns, no fighting, no drugs. If anybody did anything bad, maybe they smoked a cigarette. Those were the good old days.”
“I loved the people, the teachers. It was a very upbeat school,” Janet says. “When we graduated, a bunch of girls got together to give a party, and we invited the whole class! That’s how well we all got along,” adding, “We liked each other in school, and we still like each other.”
Read Back to School: Revisiting Bellaire High School by Russell Weil for a look at BHS, then and now.
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