“Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it, ah, out of sight”
— “Mack the Knife,” sung by Bobby Darin
Lucky Walla Walla High School Class of 1959. The Blue Devils as seniors snapped their fingers to Bobby Darin’s hip “Mack the Knife.”
Darin’s version of the rather bloody lyrics about Macky, a sharp knife, a bag of cement, a river and old Louie Brown hit No. 1 on the music charts in early 1959.
Class of ’59 members will get together for a 60th reunion Sept. 10 and 11, said classmate Pat Herring Lucarelli.
In their last year at Wa-Hi, those kids also followed the wild popularity of Elvis Presley and the terrible day the music died when an airplane crash on Feb. 3, 1959, took the lives of rock ’n’ rollers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.
TV programming was big into Westerns, with 26 shows airing. The Rat Pack first became a thing when Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop came on the scene. On Jan. 3 Alaska became the 49th state and Hawaii joined the union as the 50th on Aug. 21.
Prices that year from Fiftiesweb.com range from $10,900 for a house, to $2,000-$4,000 for a Ford car on an average income of $5,016. Milk sold for $1.01 per gallon, gas for 25 cents per gallon, a loaf of bread for 20 cents, a stamp for 4 cents and a 1-pound can of Nestle Quick for 39 cents.
In the here and now, the Class of 1959 has a variety of events planned for the reunion:
At 5:30 p.m. the group will meet at Big House Brewpub, formerly Mill Creek Brew Pub, at 11 S. Palouse St. for no-host food and beverages.
Ladies luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant, 4 W. Oak St.;
Golf at Walla Walla Country Club, 1390 Country Club Road, contact Bud at 509-301-0600 or Dick Gray at 509-525-0337.
Informal gathering at 4:30 p.m. at the home of Dick and Mary Ann Gray, 1225 Lancer Drive,
Walla Walla Country Club, 6 p.m. for cocktails, dinner, a program and music by the Gems, with classmate Jim Reid. The cost is $45 per person or $90 per couple. Reservations are needed by Aug. 31. Send a check to Wa-Hi Class of 1959, 752 Blalock Drive, Walla Walla, WA 99362.
Members of the Gems, who play songs from the ’50s and rock and roll, have been friends and fellow musicians for the last 60 years. They return to Walla Walla from time to time and have entertained at many locations.
For more reunion details, call Pat at 509-525-2821, Bud Kinzer at 509-301-0600 or Roger Muller at 509-525-9339. See also bluedevils59.com.