The year was 1972.
Glenn Sojourner, now 60, was graduating from Middleton High School in West Ashley. A brand new Pinto cost less than $3,000 loaded with extras. A pound of ground beef cost less than a dollar. President Nixon had just started to get into real trouble.
“And you could take a date out for less than $10,” says Sojouner, who points out the average home back then cost $27,000, “or about what you pay a year now in mortgage payments.”
As life went on, hair shortened, clothing styles thankfully changed, and traffic increased in West Ashley, according to Sojourner, who went on to the Citadel, then the Army, and these days enjoys grandchildren and an ongoing career in business consulting and cybermarketing.
One of the things missing from his youth, though, is Middleton High.
Repurposed as a high school in 1970 and repurposed back into a middle school in 2000, Middleton has left some of its alumni adrift when it comes to class reunions.
The first couple of reunions, up to their 25th, were easy, according to Sojourner, because the school was still in existence. But the 30th school reunion proved different.
So members of the class of ’72 joined with members from the same class from St. Andrews High, also since turned into a middle school in the wake of the opening of West Ashley High, and hosted a joint reunion.
That proved cold comfort for Sojourner and some of his Razorbacks classmates, even though they had gone through 10th grade with many of the Rocks alumni.
With the 50th anniversary looming for those who have lived that long, the absence grew more acute.
And so, last year, chatting online and on the phone with fellow grad Pam Hamilton Smith, Sojourner said the idea was hatched to do a combo reunion for the first four graduating classes at Middleton, with a fifth added later.
“Before we got off the phone, Glenn had already set up a website,” laughs Smith, the assistant director of a preschool that celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.
Not only did Sojourner quickly put together www.MiddletonHighClassof1972.com, but he also started a Facebook page to reach as many people as possible, The Beginning of Middleton High School Reunion: ‘71, ‘72, ‘73, ‘74, 75.
A series of coffee klatch organizing meetings were held, sometimes with only four people in attendance at O’Charley’s on Glenn McConnell Parkway, says Smith, and a mass reunion was hatched.
Kim McDermott was at a lot of those meetings, and says the hardest part has been trying to track down all of the past grads.
McDermott, a retired county public school teacher and counselor who still subs, estimates that graduating classes at Middleton ranged between 350-380 students.
So far, close to 200 graduates have signed up for an Aug. 29th party at the Elks Club on Sam Rittenberg. Sojourner expects more to sign up as the deadline for accepting money draws nearer.
Sojourner has received a reservation from one person in California, and Smith reports two high school sweetheart classmates have since bumped into each other and, after lifetimes lived, married recently.
WAHS spokesman Donald Newton said no one has contacted the school for help on the multi-reunion, not that he could provide much, as all of the old records and contact info no longer exists.
Newton’s boss, principal Bill Runyon, has made efforts to re-knit the two closed schools’ communities at the new school. Last year, he had totems from the schools implanted at the football stadium.
And Newton says Runyon is in the process of creating a “West Ashley” hall of fame that honors graduates from all three high schools, in fields beyond athletic ones, too.
Anyone who wants more information, or perhaps knows of the whereabouts of former Middleton alum, Sojourner asks that they contact him at email@example.com.
The year was 1972.