When John Bianchi graduated from Amsterdam’s Wilbur H. Lynch Senior High School on June 21, 1943, he had 326 brother and sister scholars for company.
Bianchi settled for nine classmates on Thursday when the Lynch Class of ’43 gathered for its 70th anniversary reunion at CP’s Family Restaurant in Hagaman.
“A lot of us still live around here. We see each other and we talk to each other,” said Bianchi, 89, who lives in Amsterdam. There was no class golf tournament, no dinner-dance — just 12 people at a long table and lunch plates filled with stuffed chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, chef’s salads, cheeseburgers and seafood.
Bianchi said high school kids from the early 1940s had lived through the Great Depression years and were still growing up when the United States entered World War II in 1941. Twenty-one graduates from Lynch and Amsterdam’s St. Mary’s Institute entered the U.S. Navy shortly after they ditched their school textbooks.
The seven men and two women from the class — plus three spouses — were happy to talk about days past
when the Glenn Miller and Harry James orchestras were teen musical favorites. “We also talk about our aches and pains that we have that come with old age,” Bianchi said.
Emma Terplak, 87, always had fun with friends. “If you’re dancing, I’m dancing,” she said. “If you’re singing, I’m singing. We used to go swimming in the Chuctanunda Creek.”
No swimming was planned after lunch, even in the sun and warm temperatures of a late summer day. “It’s just great to see everybody,” Terplak said. “They all look so healthy and happy.”
Vincent Cresanti, 87, said teens from his era dressed nicely in class, and so did the teachers. “As kids we all looked very nice,” he said. “We didn’t wear ties, but we all wore sport shirts.”
Walter Frisch wore his favorite clothes after school — practice jerseys and uniforms for the Lynch basketball and baseball teams. He said Lynch fielded excellent teams in both sports.
“I was pretty good,” Frisch said of his career as a basketball guard. “If you took three shots, you sat on the bench. Now, they shoot 103 times in one minute. I was high scorer once with just eight points.”
Jessie Greco, 87, didn’t have time for sports after school. “I’d go home and help with the chores,” she said. In a family of five, she said, there were always opportunities to iron shirts and skirts and run a dust mop.
Jim Gilligan, 88, noted the passage of time. He said the reunion planning committee once numbered 20 people. Now it’s down to four.
People from the Class of ’43 are aware that many of their old friends have passed away.
“We don’t worry about that too much,” Gilligan said. “Why spoil what’s left?”
Lunch was served shortly after 11:30 a.m. Bianchi said he and his friends were planning to stick around the restaurant for a while.
“Until we get tired,” he said.