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Graduates from 1964 and earlier invited to attend Hammerle Park event

Hundreds of West Linn High School alumni will converge at the city’s Hammerle Park the third Saturday in August, when an alumni group hosts its annual picnic there. This year’s event will run from noon to 4 p.m. August 16.

“Every year we celebrate the class reaching their 50th year of graduating from West Linn,” event co-chairwoman Dorothy “Dottie” Larsen said.

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Carol Latourette, left, and Cash Latourette are two of the volunteers who make the annual alumni picnic happen. Dottie Larsen, right, is the event's co-chairwoman.This is her sixth year helping to organize the event.

“Each class from West Linn that reaches their 50th, that class was supposed to and did plan their picnic, a huge picnic that has gone on every year since 1976,” Larsen said. “They were taught how to do it by the class that graduated before them. It’s always been like that.”

That tradition slipped sometime after Larsen helped plan her own 50th anniversary picnic, in 2010. A year came when no one stepped forward to plan that's class's 50th reunion.

“So I got a team of about nine or 10 who got together,” Larsen said. “We’re going to be the permanent planning committee, and we’ll continue it as long as we can.”

This year’s picnic will honor the class of 1964 — although people who graduated as far back as the 1930s are expected to attend.

“They come,” Larsen said. “And it’s so important to these people. Last year we sent out 1,400 invitations, and there were several hundred alumni there. This year, we’re going word of mouth, to save on the mailings.”

Alumni from 1964 and earlier are invited to attend this year’s picnic with their spouses. There’s no fee, although organizers do invite attendees to donate money that will be used to pay for the next year’s event. Larsen uses a simple system, based on last name, to let people know what food items they should bring to share.

“A to G is salad,” she said. “H to Q is main dish. R to Z is dessert.”

Beverages, paper plates and utensils are provided. Although the park has some picnic tables and benches, Larsen recommends bringing a chair to sit in. The park will be bedecked in West Linn colors.

“One man drives all the way from Madras; his son drives him,” Larsen said. “He is all decked out in his green and gold shirt, his West Linn colors. All of these people are alert and oriented and excited to be there. They’re making new friends and meeting old friends. It makes me feel so good. We work very hard on this, but it’s so worth it.”

She said that it’s rare for an attendee not to know someone at the picnic.

“Everybody is just so busy talking, there’s not a lot of just standing around and not saying anything,” she said. “It doesn’t happen that often, but if someone is standing around, I’ll come up and find out what year then graduated. Then I’ll sneak around and find someone else who graduated that year to talk to them.”

Larsen has plenty of happy memories of her own high school days to draw upon.

“I loved high school. I had a ball in high school … I have wonderful memories. I loved the school and I’m so proud that I went there,” she said.

The planning committee is assisted by about 30 volunteers on the day of the picnic. To volunteer or to learn more, contact Larsen at 503-236-2448.

“It’s a big thing to do,” she said. “We didn’t have a lot of help last year, but this year we’re really working it. The class of ‘64 was a really close class and there’s a lot of them and they’re willing to help. But we’ve got a lot of years ahead of us.”

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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