2007-09-26 / Front Page

Putting the band back together for many reunions

Metuchen H.S. hosts reunion for eight of its former classes
BY KATHY CHANG Staff Writer

METUCHEN - The sounds of George Bushman and the Dynamics brought the Metuchen High School classes of 1959 to 1967 back to their teenage years.

The crowd of approximately 475 people roared and called out the band's names at their high school reunion held at the Pines Manor in Edison on Sept. 8.

Bushman said his goal was to get his former classmates rockin' - and he did.

Many people, like Angernell Jackson of Somerset, a member of the class of 1966, said their fondest memory of high school was listening to the band at the weekly Friday dances.

"My other favorite memory was cheering on my football team," she said as she reminisced about her high school years. "And I had such beautiful classmates."

George Bushman, who graduated in 1964, but became an honorary graduate of four classes, said getting together with his band after all these years was emotional.

"We have always stayed close," said Bushman, who stopped playing lead guitar in 1968 due to arthritis. "I started the band when I was 14 years old and recruited anybody who could play an instrument, whether it was a guitar or a tuba."

The band, which also includes brothers Jimmy and Wayne Thompson, and Bill Gray, got together just to play some numbers for the reunion.

"These guys were truly the best musicians at the time in the tri-state," said Bushman. "They made me look good."

The Metuchen High School Bulldog mascot greeted the high school alumni on their way into the reunion.

The night included the class guests of honor: Dr. Reno Zinzarella, 80, who was vice principal of Metuchen High School from 1959 to 1962, and his wife.

A group of class representatives from the nine classes organized the reunion.

"It started out with only two class reunions, but other classes kept on adding on," said Claudia Connolly, class of 1962. "Seventy rooms were booked at the Clarion Hotel."

Many reminisced about their experience growing up in Metuchen, their football team rivalry Highland Park, and explained why some stayed in the borough.

"Metuchen is such a small town, and my class was a small class, 130 people, that everyone knew everyone," said Karen Novia, class of 1960. "My husband, class of 1959, and I stayed in Metuchen because it's just a nice place to live."

Susan Krivas-Volner, class of 1967, remembers rainy days in Metuchen.

"All the girls would get together and talk about the boys," she laughed.

The reunion was emotional for Sheila Gray, class of 1964.

"Just being here brings back a lot of memories," said Gray of Brick Township. "I'm happy and sad. Metuchen is such a wonderful and close-knit town."

Gary Gronroose, class of 1960, and his wife, Carol Kaiser Gronroose, class of 1964, said they love the friends they have made and kept.

"It's such a small town, and I still see a lot of the people that live in town," said Carol.

Ken Dineen, class of 1964, agreed.

"There is a camaraderie with everybody," he said.

John Kolbus, of Edison, who went into the auto body trade before he graduated from Metuchen High School, said he remembers football scrimmages.

"I remember I tackled a kid and broke his arm; I felt really bad," said Kolbus, a retired volunteer fireman for the Metuchen Fire Department.

Richard and Elaine Doxey traveled from Tennessee to attend the reunion.

"My husband, who was a 1962 Metuchen High School graduate, and I [Piscataway High School graduate] dated in high school," said Elaine. "Then we broke up before we went to college and he into the U.S. Air Force. Thirty-five years later we got married."

Among the 475 members of classes 1958 to 1967 attending the event were Richard Kagan, class of 1964, a Hollywood life insurance magnate and theater producer, and his wife, Julie Hagerty, an actress who has been in several Broadway shows and the parody film "Airplane!"

"It was a couple of teachers in high school that got me into theater," said Kagan, who met Hagerty nine years ago. "Now, we're moving between LA [Los Angeles] and Maine with our two children and horses. We are blessed to be with each other."

Dr. Phil Gerbino, class of 1964, president of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Pa., and Kevin McCallion, class of 1964, said it was nice to see friends they haven't seen for a very long time.

"We all came for that reason," said McCallion, who now lives in Colts Neck.

"I see Phil a lot, but I haven't seen some people for 43 years. Living in Metuchen was like hometown USA and like a scene out of 'Leave It to Beaver.' It was the greatest place ever to grow up in."

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