Lapel High School Class of 1955

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By Ray Tinscher, | For The Times-Post

The year 1955 brings back good memories for this writer. The Korean “conflict” (as President Truman called it) ended. I was discharged from the U.S. Marines, along with others, and we returned to our prior jobs.
My prior job was assistant manager of Danner Bros. in Rushville, Indiana. When was the last time you shopped in a 5- and 10-cent store?
The 1955 Chevrolet “hardtop” was a beautiful popular car, along with the stylish Ford Mustang.
In Lapel, the new high school building had just been dedicated, and the 1955 seniors attended their final year of classes in the new building and graduated from there.
It was not the first class to graduate from the new building however, according to Class of 1955 president Roger Renbarger. The Class of 1954, while its classes took place in the old building, conducted graduation in the new one.


The advisory board for the new school building was comprised of Robert Jarrett, Arthur Busby and David Bodenhorn. Paul Beanblossom was trustee, Victor Owens was the principal, and Mary Boone was secretary and handled the public address system.
The LHS teaching faculty included Hurbert Dickson — math; Mary Williams and Gilbert Gentry — science; Evelyn Mousa — music; Gurney Mattingly — art; Louise Grantham — physical education and science; Ronald Sheets — physical education and social studies; Gerald Roudebush — physical education and social studies; Jane Wilkenson — home economics; Miles Cramer — industrial arts; Fred St. John — agriculture; Lois Creed — commerce; Winifred Owens — English and Latin; and Velma Demske — English.
There were 41 seniors in the Class of ’55.
The class officers for that year were John Beaver — president; Roger Renbarger — vice president; Frances Hall — secretary; and Shirley Wise — treasurer.
This writer had known Roger for several years. In fact, I had also attended his 50-year class anniversary reunion in 2005. This writer had a grandson also graduating from LHS that year. I asked Roger if he would reflect on his yearbook.
As we reviewed the 1955 senior yearbook, Roger looked at his senior classmates’ photographs and shook his head.
He repeatedly said, “I cannot believe it, there are so many who are not with us today!”
Roger added, “I can only guess, but there are only about 14 seniors living around here, that I can account for, who are still living from my class? We tried to contact all of them for our class reunion, and I believe that 14 is close. We were a good group and had lots of fun. All 41 of us graduated.”
“One of our seniors (William) Larry Jackson, shortly after graduating, enlisted in the military. While he was in training, he contracted spinal meningitis and died shortly thereafter. That was quite shocking!”
“In the front of our yearbook, we have listed, in memory of Marjorie Riggs,” Roger added. “She was a teacher at LHS and was our junior class sponsor. She was killed in an automobile accident.”
In 1955, yearbook sponsors were important.
While reviewing the list of sponsor advertisers, there were five service stations in the Lapel area, selling gasoline. Ralph & Oscar Wallace’s sold Sinclair gasoline, L.T Woodward was the Standard Oil bulk dealer, Teeters Pure Oil Service, Michael’s Service Station (which did not advertise which gasoline it sold) — where you could also have a home-cooked meal, plus Jarrett’s Marathon.
During that time period, “gas wars” were common. This writer can attest to those prices. In 1958, I owned a Standard Oil station in Greenfield. The gas prices at one time were listed as 19.9 cents per gallon of regular gas. However, vehicles did not get the gas mileage then as they get today.
There was good competition in groceries during 1955.
Cascadden Supermarket offered fresh meats, quality produce and groceries; Stephenson’s Groceries was located on Pendleton Avenue in Lapel; Turner’s offered drive-in grocery service and was open on Sundays. Today, the Lapel area has one Dollar General as a grocery store.
The Lapel/Fishersburg area was lucky to have several good restaurants. Huffman’s Cafeteria advertised “To Suit Your Taste” home-cooked foods.” The Lapel Café advertised “When In The Mood For Fine Food.” Ann’s Lunchroom advertised “Plate Lunch & Short Orders,” plus it served as the bus station for Lapel. Passwater’s Lunch was a popular place. On Wednesdays and Saturdays it offered fried chicken.
We are a growing community. With more residents brings more demand; more demand brings more competition.
Our future as a community should look bright. We have a town board interested in improving the area. We also have town employees working hard on our behalf (because they also live here).
It is a proven fact, the cleaner an area is, morale is always greater! In Lapel, let us work together toward that goal.
Ray Tincher attended Ball State University and retired from Indiana Department of Correction in 1997. He worked at IDOC for 30 years, serving in a variety of roles, from correctional officer to warden. At retirement, he received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award from Gov. Frank O’Bannon. He wrote several training manuals as part of his employment and is a published author: “Inmate #13225 John Herbert Dillinger (2007).” He and his wife, Marilyn, live in Lapel.