Placer High School's 1940s alumni plan picnic

Reunion event set for Aug. 25
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal features editor
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Even though it has been more than 60 years since they graduated, the members of Placer High School’s classes from the 1940s continue to gather each year to catch up on old times.

Mary Lue Hardey, Class of 1947, said her group of alumni stayed in touch over the years, gathering for various events. In 2003, the group opened up to the classes of ’47 and ’48, and now is open to all 1940s graduates.

“We’ve lost some to deaths and moving away or whatever, and our program kept diminishing,” explained Leon Juarros, Class of 1946. “So we thought we’d open it up more and more years.”

This year’s gathering takes place Aug. 25 at Recreation Park, where Randy’s Creative Catering will provide the food for the fourth all-1940s picnic. Hardey said several people in their 90s attend, as do alumni from all over California and as far away as Oregon and Seattle.

When asked what the alumni do at the picnic, the answer was unanimous: “Talk!”

“We meet at 11 a.m., have lunch at noon, and you can stay as long as you want afterward,” Juarros said.

“And see people who you certainly don’t see too often,” added Florence Ladeck, Class of 1947.

The picnic is focused on the ’40s, Ladeck said, but no Placer alumni will be turned away, and guests and caretakers are certainly welcome.

The alumni have many stories to tell about life in high school and after – Ladeck worked as city clerk in Auburn for 28 years, including serving as president of the State City Clerks Association in 1987; Hardey’s husband was in the Marine Corps for three years, during which time she worked at the Pentagon, later becoming an elementary school tea-cher for 40 years. Juarros was drafted two years out of high school to serve in the Army during the Korean War.

Before being drafted, he recalled, “I went to Folsom Prison for a year – as a security guard.” After his service, he went to work for the Sacramento City Fire Department, where he worked for 38 years.

The good ol’ days

All three remember Placer High School – and Auburn – as a tight-knit community where everybody knew everybody else. There were no stoplights or chain stores in Auburn at the time, and most of the students had after-school jobs, including Ladeck, who worked at the State Theater.

As they are today, athletics were a big draw for students and community members, who turned out in droves to watch the football team win three straight championships in the ’40s.

“Roseville was our ne-mesis, our competition,” said Juarros, adding that the closest schools at the time were in Grass Valley and Lincoln.

Hardey remembered how Placer shared a campus with Placer Junior College. The two schools also shared a gym.

“They weren’t protecting the floor of the gymnasium so much, so we had sock hops all winter,” she recalled. “Of course, we did it in socks – we didn’t use shoes – but at least they let us dance during winter.”

Because they went to school during a war, Juarros remembered, there was strict rationing. Be-cause schools were often unable to buy enough gasoline, some trips – including sporting events – out of the area were canceled. Rationing also had effects on non-school activities.

“If someone had enough gas to go up skiing, they always took a full carload of people,” Hardey remembered. “Maybe that’s why we’re so close – we always had to have a crowd!”

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1940s Placer High Picnic
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25
Where: Recreation Park, 123 Recreation Drive, Auburn
Cost: $20
RSVP: No later than Aug. 10 by calling (530) 885-3538