Marshfield Pirates Marshfield High School, Class of 1969, Coos Bay, Oregon  

The Way It Was...

By
Richard "Tricky Dick" Sebesta1

"Your final exam is tomorrow."(Sebesta, Day One, 1968-69) Thus began a journey for the Honors English IV seniors.

As if that were not enough, the spring-summer just completed included the Chicago Democratic Convention and the assassinations of two national leaders. And still there was Vietnam, bigger than ever and no longer so distant, especially as more soldiers came home to their final rest.

At Marshfield, the 2000 students were jammed into ever nook and cranny on campus as well as finding standing-room-only spots at the nearby Safeway2 parking lot. Yes, folks, just in time modular schedulling ("schedule...adjusted to the needs of the curriculum....") arrived, and with it came small, medium and large groups in trailers and with room dividers in required classes, electives, and even mini courses (including Morse Code, Cake Decorating, and Powder Puff Mechanics).

Fashion statements were made constantly in embroidered clothing, tie-dye everything, Army shirts, headbands, sandels, and patches on jeans. The frizz hairstyle was groovy and long straight hair (aka Mary, of Peter, Paul and Mary) was far out. The class conscious student body, donned in colored glasses, dissected itself into ephemeral social classes, such as soc's, jocks, and wallrats. The exercises of free will and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms were tested as often as possible and pushed to the limit. Drugs reached the high school in Coos Bay.

Ironically, while 18+ year old males were deciding to enlist or to become draft dodgers, the ROTC class at MHS was building its own airplane. Meanwhile, SDS cards were being distributed the students locally to advocate the abolition of that same ROTC class at Marshfield. And while flagburning protests were happening across America, underground publications at the high school were raising the consciousness level of Elmer Johnson, principal, and the faculty.

Within all of this seeming dissonance, the local enforcer was "the paddle." Is it any wonder that the assignment was Lord of the Flies!

So who were the BMOC3; well, an easier (and more humbling question is) who appeared in the 1969 MHS Yearbook the most: Bedingfield, Cookson, or Farr? And who set one Oregon record and one national record on the same day in two separate events? And how many of these dynamic faculty leaders can you identify: Mrs. Baker, Miss Mac, George Moore, Coach Susick, Coach Hoffine? And how many of the nine new English teachers do you remember—prove it.

To complete the circle, things would look even better over the summer with Neil Armstrong on the Moon and Janis Joplan at Woodstock! Zounds and cowabonga, Buffalo Bob!

(1) Richard Sebesta was a first year English teacher the same year we were freshman. He retired from MHS in 2001
(2) Since 2001, is Bi-Mart
(3) Big Man on Campus

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