The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 11, 2017 1:00 am

Snider's 1st grads dressed for success

FRANK GRAY | For The Journal Gazette

It's summertime and class reunion season, which isn't really unusual.

But one 50th reunion has some peculiarities. It's the gathering being planned for the Snider High School class of 1967.

Back when the people destined to graduate in the Summer of Love first entered high school, they were missing things: Their school had a name, but they didn't have a school, among other things.

The story is that back about 1964, the Fort Wayne Community Schools board realized there wasn't room at North Side High School for all the students at Lakeside and Northwood junior high schools. They needed a new high school, and they needed one fast.

So they took the relatively new Lane Junior High School and turned it into a high school in the morning and a junior high in the afternoon.

The high schoolers, who attended class from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., knew they would eventually graduate from a school called Snider, but for nearly two years they were stuck in a junior high school with no track, no upperclassmen, no sports teams to compete against other varsity squads, no traditions. If there was an upside – there was no hazing.

But they did have rules, said Gloria Zimmerman, a '67 graduate and one of the people who decades ago got roped into organizing reunions every five years.

Zimmerman remembers the principal, Maurice Davis, who is deceased. She still refers to him as Mr. Davis.

They were a new school, and all eyes would be on them. The school was expected to produce exemplary students.

Davis' attitude was that if students took time to look good on the outside they'd also look good on the inside.

And Davis, apparently, was no fan of some of the modern fashion trends.

So the rules were, no jeans and no T-shirts. If you wore a T-shirt or jeans, you'd be sent home.

Girls weren't allowed to wear culottes. They weren't allowed to wear slacks. They had to wear skirts that came no higher than the middle of the knee.

Sandals had to be worn with socks or hose, and boys' hair couldn't go over their collars.

Girls were permitted to wear makeup, but if it was too heavy, they'd be ordered to wash their face. Blue eye shadow was strictly forbidden, as was ratted hair.

The rules stunned some teachers, Zimmerman said, and even some of them ran into trouble, such as the teacher who got her hair frosted, an egregious violation of the rules.

Near the end of their junior year, the class moved into the real but unfinished R. Nelson Snider High School, though they still had no stadium or track.

“We were in a cocoon,” Zimmerman said. They predated flower children and didn't know about marijuana, or even Vietnam, she said.

The worst thing that ever happened was someone getting caught smoking in the bathroom, Zimmerman said.

If a public school tried to enact similar rules today, Zimmerman mused, parents would be outraged.

But it worked out. The class went on to produce doctors and lawyers and politicians, and others went on to other successes.

The reunion, by the way, will be Sept. 16 at the Ramada Inn on Washington Center Road.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, fax at 461-8893, or email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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