The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 31, 2014

High school correspondence: '68 and '88

Not even a towering inferno which destroyed their high school could deplete the resiliency of the CHS students of 1968.

This is the story of the sophomore English class of Mrs. Jaeger on May 29, 1968. They had just endured living through a horrible experience of devastation and going to classes from 7 a.m. until noon each day at Washington Junior High School. On a spring day, their thoughts were starting to drift to summer vacation, their first jobs, driver’s licenses and carnivals.

Eighteen sophomore English class students were asked to write a letter to a CHS student 20 years later. They were to describe their lives. Most of them wrote about how it was for all teenagers then, while a few focused on their individual life. For one thing, they didn’t dwell upon the past and the fire.

Edna Dohse was a high school bookkeeper, and in 1988, she found a big envelope in an old safe in Franklin Elementary School. In the envelope, Edna found 18 letters of students from 1968; 65 cents for postage; 20 envelopes with 6 cent stamps on them; and various small items. She gave them to sophomore English teacher Joyce King.

King assigned her students to respond, but for many reasons, they were never delivered.

One student recognized that it would be hard connecting with past students, because they moved. This article may facilitate the transmission after all these years. One thing is for certain, the students from both groups were serious about their efforts. They wrote very neat letters and their grammar, spelling and construction were very good. The letters weren’t very deep as they fantasized about their lives and the future, but nonetheless, it was a good exercise, jammed with implications about the years that have passed.

The students are now 41 and 61 years old and King is about 80. Jaeger was young then, but she may be approaching 90 or is gone.

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