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September 26, 2012

The Class Of 1962 Remembers East Hampton



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The president was John F. Kennedy. The movies cost a quarter. Twenty five cents would also get you a hot lunch.

When the East Hampton High School Class of 1962 reunites Saturday on the 50th anniversary of their graduation, it will be hard for those attending to believe so much time has gone by.

Within months the world would begin turning upside down. Kennedy would be assassinated, with more leaders destined for same fate in the coming years. The Beatles and British Invasion would change the face of music. The Vietnam War would erupt and escalate. The Flower Power generation would change the way we dress, the way we look, and the length of our hair. But back in 1962 East Hampton was even more beautiful then it is today.

The Class of '62 reunites Saturday at the South Fork Country Club. So far about 60 of the 89 graduates are slated to attend.

"It was a wonderful place to grow up," recalled Linda Leddy, now Linda Streck. "I absolutely loved the summer."

Deanna King (Tikkanen) said the hot songs included "Locomotion," "Sea Cruise," "Tell Laura I Love Her," "When A Man Loves A Woman," and "Kathy's Clown."

"We had one movie, and one showing – at 7 PM," Tikkanen remembered. "Afterwards we'd go to Marmador for an ice cream soda."

Peggy Young grew up on Osborne Lane and started dating her classmate, Dave DiSunno, in their senior year. They've been together ever since, and married for 46 years. "We lived at the Marmador," she said. A ham sandwich was 15 cents. "A sardine sandwich was 20," Young-DiSunno said reading from a menu. "We'd go after school, buy a five cent bag of chips, and use their ketchup to dip them in. We'd stay for hours." The place was owned by the King family but Eddie Cangelosi ran it, she said. It was right next door to the movies.

The high school was on Newtown Lane, where the middle school is now. "I would get a quarter to buy lunch at school but we'd go to the luncheonette," Streck said. "A quarter got you a bowl of soup and a coke." By the way, diet soda hadn't been invented yet.

A date night might be pizza and beer at Sam's. "We loved Sam's. The food was good and he really took us under his wing. Another popular spot was the drive-in movie in Bridgehampton, near where King Kullen is now," Streck said.

Tikkanen said once in a while a trip to Hampton Bays and the roller rink would be on the agenda.

"Winters were much colder," Young-DiSunno noted. "We'd go ice skating all winter."

There were two or three delis, a luncheonette, an ice cream parlor, a news/candy store, a pharmacy, several hardware stores, and other mom and pop stores dotting Newtown Lane and Main Street. "And the stores stayed open all year round," Streck pointed out.

Marilyn Monroe, who was found dead later that year, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra were the big movie stars, and of course, there was Elvis. "I wasn't much of a Beatles fan," Leddy said. "Elvis was much more exciting."

The Edwards Theater, which burned down, used to have giant posters advertising the movies. Fans would lobby the manager, asking for the posters after the movie stopped playing there. They are probably worth a fortune now, Leddy noted.

"We knew everyone in town," Young-DiSunno recalled. "Guys would drive through town with packs of cigarettes tucked in the arms of their T-shirts."

Leddy's father, Fritz was the chief of police. "I don't think he made any DWI arrests." When he retired he was making $8500. "That was good money back then." Leddy learned to drive in a 1962 Studebaker.

Some of the boys ended up going off to war in Vietnam. The summer folks came Memorial Day and left Labor Day. The drinking age was 18, and pizza and beer was an acceptable date.

Streck said much of the summer a lot of the students would be in rehearsals at Guild Hall for the annual music review dubbed "Village Vanities."

"It was a musical review—everyone was in it. Teachers would be on stage along with students. The production took place on Labor Day weekend."

1962 – "The Incredible Hulk' was released – the comic book, not the movie. The Cold War was heating up. The average new house cost $12,500. Gasoline was 28 cents a gallon. There were three car dealerships in town. "It was nothing like it is now," Tikkanen noted. She went off to college, got married, but gravitated back home.

Young and DiSunno went off to Fredonia College, came home, and married. She became a schoolteacher and taught at Amagansett School for years.

"It was a quieter time, a great time," she said of her teenage years.

After high school Leddy went off to New York, attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, and went to work at Saks Fifth Avenue. Eight years after leaving she moved back to East Hampton for good. What happened? "I met a lifeguard on Main Beach." Then she related something that can only happen in a small town. "That's where my father met my mother."

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