Ohio High School Hosts 70th Class Reunion

Juanita Smith of Lima, Ohio, goes to her 70th high school reunion Monday. She graduated from Lima South High School in 1937, along with 188 other students. She says taking care of family and a strong belief in God are important to success.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Here's a bit of news to keep in mind as you go through this Monday. At noon today former graduates of South High School in Ohio will get together for their 70th high school reunion - their 70th. The class of 1937.

The reunion organizers include Juanita Smith, who joins us from - is it Leema(ph) or Lime-ah(ph), Ohio?

Ms. JUANITA SMITH (Class of 1937): It's Lime-ah(ph).

INSKEEP: Lima, Ohio. Glad to get that right. So when you have a 70th high school reunion, you do what, an all-night dance party, I assume?

Ms. SMITH: Well, no, no, we don't go for that anymore. We would. No, we're having a luncheon at Casa Lu Al. It's a very fine restaurant here, and hopefully we'll have at least 12.

INSKEEP: Oh, at least 12.

Ms. SMITH: We'll probably have more than that because there'll be some guests.

INSKEEP: How big was the class of 1937?

Ms. SMITH: One hundred and eighty-eight.

INSKEEP: Have you still got the high school yearbook?

Ms. SMITH: Yes, I do.

INSKEEP: What comes to mind when you start flipping through that?

Ms. SMITH: Oh, of how much fun we had. And I married the fellow that was in the pictures of the basketball team and the football teams - very good basketball player and very handsome.

INSKEEP: Hmm. Hmm.

Ms. SMITH: I never did figure out why I got him because he could've had his pick, I think.

INSKEEP: How did you now him, initially? Were you in the same classroom or were you a cheerleader? Or...

Ms. SMITH: No, we were in the same year. You know what a home room is?

INSKEEP: Oh, sure.

Ms. SMITH: Okay, well, our home rooms were side by side, and I remember one time we were walking out down the hall and I was with this other girl and we're walking along and these boys were ahead of us. And Jim was one of them and I was watching him and I said to this girl - and when I think about this, it really blows my mind, because I said to her, see that tall one over there? And she says, yeah. I said, I'm going to marry him someday.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: And you know, it was - it had to be. That was in the eighth grade of school.

INSKEEP: Now, I don't want to get too racy here, but what could you have seen while walking behind that young man that would cause you to say something like that?

Ms. SMITH: Because he was tall and he was blond and he was very good-looking and he was a nice dresser. And back in those days, you know, no one had very much. And he was a wonderful ball player and I admired that. You know, it was not until the 11th grade of school that we ever had a date.

INSKEEP: Where did you go?

Ms. SMITH: We went to a movie.

INSKEEP: Do you remember which movie it was?

Ms. SMITH: Well, it was at the Ohio Theater but I have no idea which movie.

INSKEEP: Oh.

Ms. SMITH: Or I mean what the movie was.

INSKEEP: Were you not really watching the movie, is that what you're telling me?

Ms. SMITH: That's probably what I'm telling you.

INSKEEP: Okay. Well, all right.

Ms. SMITH: Yes.

INSKEEP: Now, this was 1937?

Ms. SMITH: Yes. It wasn't very pleasant. I mean that was a terrible time. Plus, people were so poor. I have to admit, we didn't have that problem but there was a lot of them that did.

INSKEEP: This was tail end of the Depression, when the...

Ms. SMITH: Yes. When you could buy milkshakes for a quarter. And it's just - was a different time. It wasn't very pleasant, I tell you, because you - when we got out of high school, there was no jobs, you know.

INSKEEP: Now, I have to ask, because some people do get nervous before a high school reunion, are you nervous at all, as you prepare for this lunch?

MS. SMITH: Not in the least. What would you get nervous about?

INSKEEP: Well, I don't know. Some people might worry about how other people would perceive them or whether they were seen as a success or a failure.

Ms. SMITH: Oh, no, never gave it a thought.

INSKEEP: Well, good for you.

Ms. SMITH: Never gave it a thought.

INSKEEP: Good for you.

Ms. SMITH: We had a pretty good group that were all pretty successful and a lot of them, you know, they had very good jobs and as time went on, you know - now, I'm sure that there were a lot that didn't have all that, but a bigger share of them, you know, did pretty well.

INSKEEP: For you, what has success meant?

Ms. SMITH: Being able to take care of your family properly, being a firm believer in God, which I am. And I try to be broadminded with other people's beliefs and things. That's up to them. But you know, but I don't know, I don't think scads and scads of money really is the answer to success. I think there's a lot more to it than that.

INSKEEP: Juanita Smith of Lima, Ohio, the class of 1937, thanks very much for speaking with us.

Ms. SMITH: Okay.

INSKEEP: Enjoy the reunion today.

Ms. SMITH: Okay. Thank you.

INSKEEP: Did I miss anything important that I should have asked you about?

Ms. SMITH: You didn't ask me how old I am.

INSKEEP: I was never going to ask you that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: I would tell you gladly.

INSKEEP: Okay.

Ms. SMITH: I'm 87.

INSKEEP: Eighty-seven.

Ms. SMITH: I'm going to be 88 in September.

INSKEEP: All right.

Ms. SMITH: Yes.

INSKEEP: Well, Mrs. Smith, thanks very much. It's good talking with you.

Ms. SMITH: All right. Bye-bye.

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