MOUNT VERNON — About 17 members of Mount Vernon High School’s class of 1945 met Saturday for a 74th reunion, sharing memories of embarrassing first days of school, memorable teachers and sacrifices made during World War II.

Reunion organizer and classmate Nancy Mason Paris said the class numbered 103 at graduation, though some had left school early to enlist in the military.

“Our high school years were the same as World War II,” she said. That created a sense of closeness, she said.

Students competed to collect the most scrap metal, which was used for the war effort, she said. She remembers her class won for the biggest pile of metal.

Food, gas and clothing were rationed during the war.

“Some girls were upset because we could only buy two pairs of shoes a year,” Mason Paris said.

Gudrun Torseth Handstad said there was a sense of wanting to do your part in the war effort, even if it meant watching classmates leave school early.

“I think it was scary too,” she said.

Joanne Sharfenberg Lenning recalled the time as one in which she could ride her horse to school and tie it up next to a field.

“Other people rode horses to school,” she said. “We had quite a group where I lived.”

Pat Liggett Bromels said she remembers driving a city bus for Mount Vernon.

“I could cover the whole town in an hour,” she said. “You couldn’t make it down main street today.”

Liggett Bromels said she was able to work as a bus and truck driver in part because the men had left for war. She described her career as working as a truck driver and in construction in Skagit County.

As a high school student, Fred Smith said he had wanted to take a sewing and cooking classes, but was not allowed to because he was a boy. Looking back, he said those skills were badly needed, especially for bachelors.

Ruth Parker Wylie said the group has been meeting for a annual reunion since 2000. The group acknowledged Saturday the classmates who have died since the previous reunion.

Parker Wylie said one memory sticks in her mind — the green getup her mother got her to wear on the first day of high school. A classmate gave her the name “green freshman” and it stuck, she said.

“I just remember the green sweater,” she said. “I never ordered another in my life.”

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison:, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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