Carol Castorina Reid remembers hot chocolate at Tops diner after winter ice skating.
Rozanne Parillo Monteparo thinks back to bus trips with high school musicians and majorettes.
Russ DeOrazio can still see all those chickens and rabbits scampering the halls at Draper High School.
All the stories will be back in style this coming weekend. Men and women who graduated from Rotterdam’s Draper in 1962 and 1963 will gather at reunion parties Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The “kids” from 50 years ago will remember life and times at Draper, which closed as a high school in 1986. The district then merged with the Mohonasen Central School District. Draper is now used as a middle school.
Reid, a 1962 graduate who remains a Rotterdam resident, said she focused on studies during her days at Draper. She was determined to go to college and graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in social studies. She took her degree to school, teaching 31 years in the Mohonasen district before retiring in 1999.
Reid remembers kids hanging out at Eifert’s pharmacy at Rotterdam’s “Five Corners,” the point of convergence for Curry Road, Broadway, Duanesburg Road, Mariaville Road and Princetown Road. Tops was the place for hot chocolate after winter outings in Memorial Park on Curry Road.
Reid also remembers movies such as “Where the Boys Are,” a 1960 Connie Francis film about four girls on a spring vacation. “If we went on our own, we had to take a bus,” Reid said. “There was only one car in the family, and that was at work with Dad.”
The Draper Follies talent show was another hoot. “I remember dressing up as an octopus,” Reid said. “I used Venetian blinds for the tentacles. I covered the blind slats with black fabric and had cords to move the slats.”
Monteparo also graduated in 1962. She and her friends hustled to watch “American Bandstand” after the final school bell. The best places to watch, she said, were homes where both parents worked.
“We’d just dance and talk and have fun until we got called home for supper,” she said. “That was the highlight of our day.”
Monteparo was captain of the drum majorette team by her junior year. She and her pals looked forward to band and majorette competitions in Connecticut and Massachusetts. “It was with the boys and girls overnight, we were all by ourselves,” Monteparo said. “We did have chaperones.”
Monteparo kept twirling. She and her friend, Colleen O’Hare Hart from Draper’s Class of 1959, taught other young girls how to fly their batons in the “Rotterdam Sweethearts” group from 1973 until 1988.
In school, skirts and bobby socks were big deals. So were white Keds sneakers. “We’d polish them with white shoe polish,” Reid said.
DeOrazio, a former Draper football and baseball player who received his diploma in 1963, remembers big games against rival Scotia. He’ll also never forget the time kids from the class of 1961 filled the school with chickens, rabbits, pigeons and bats for their class prank.
“It was pandemonium,” he said, adding that bats were the hardest to run down. “Coach Erickson was trying to swat them with a tennis racket,” he said.
Exchange student returning
There were about 100 members in each of Draper’s grades, kindergarten through 12. About 100 people are expected for weekend festivities, including Yoko Osawa Hirano from the Class of 1962. Yoko, a foreign exchange student from 50 years ago, will travel from Japan to see her old friends.