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Inside the 60th Reunion of the very first graduating class of Mercer Island High

It felt like the fabulous fifties when the Mercer Island High School Class of 1958 gathered at a local drive-in to share hugs, kisses and heartfelt memories.

The pages of a time-worn yearbook show faces full of promise and potential as the very first graduating class of MIHS set out to build their lives. Now, sixty years later, they're coming together again to celebrate.

Erik Peterson was elected class president as a high school senior - now he's a senior citizen!

"I think we should have term limits on the class presidency," Peterson jokes. "No - I've enjoyed every bit of it. We have a great class. Everyone has become close friends and kept in touch and we've had twelve reunions in the ensuing years so we must like each other."

Many of these lifelong pals met as youngsters. They even had a nickname 'The Graham Cracker Kids.' They went to elementary school, junior high and then high school together.

It's tough to imagine now, but in those days, Mercer Island - now a swanky Seattle suburb. - was considered 'the sticks'!

Jeff Martine grew up there.

"It was a place for people to live that couldn't afford to live in Seattle," he said. "The bridge had just been built in 1940, so in the late 40s after the war, people started moving in and developing it but it was still a very rural place."

Literally living on an island encouraged a unique closeness.

"So all our activities where rather circumscribed," said Martine. "We got to know each other really well - and yet we still all like each other."

Full disclosure - this crew is near and dear to me. Martine is my dad, and a member of this class. He played football, was on the debate team - and that was just the start.

I was delighted when I picked up a yearbook and saw my dad was won a special award as a senior - wittiest!

"I did - I don't know how close that was," he said. "I knew that I couldn't 'qualify as the valedictorian.'"

With just 78 kids, the senior class was a tightknit group.

"Familial? Is that a good word?" asks Martine. "We're brothers and sisters - lifelong friends. I guess we're not actually brothers and sisters but the closest thing to it."

There were a few students who were less like brothers and sisters, and more like a love match! Meet Kay Wallace Wiley and Bob Wiley. They've been together for sixty years, they actually met while students at MIHS.

"As juniors at the Tolo [dance] and I asked him to go," said Wallace Wiley. "He'd already been asked by somebody, but he canceled her and went with me and that was the beginning of 57 wonderful years of marriage."

"And it's worked fifty seven years!" adds Wiley.

Tyler and Sue Stroh also met at the high school.

"I was two years behind," explains Sue. "I grabbed on to her real early," said Tyler. "We've been together 56 years now."

It may have been six decades since high school, but for the class of 1958, the fifties seem like yesterday.

Diane Oliver recalls there were some fashion 'do's and don'ts.'

"We had swishy skirts, and then crinoline skirts," she said. "I'll tell you what was funny. One time we had this gal came - she came from Garfield High School. She had a straight skirt on....we didn't say anything but I think she felt it."

Bottom line - straight skirts were a fashion faux paux. "Not in those days. Not at our school," says Oliver with a twinkle in her eye.

And before he became a mega star... Elvis perfomed here in Seattle.

Erik Peterson actually went to the concert when he was just 17.

"Elvis came to the old Seattle Stadium when we were juniors," he said. "And I remember - it was an open air concert and it was before he was a superstar. He drew a huge crowd there, and I think we had to skip school a little bit to go see him!"

Fast forward to today. Fashion and music may have changed, but the strong bonds these folks share have stayed the same. This group of friends for life handed out some awards, told some stories and even sang their school song.

"Where Lake Washington's blue waters break against the shore: Mercer Island! Mercer Island's sons and daughters pledge forever more. Loyalty and love and service proud our banners fly. Hail to me your favorite high school, hail to Mercer High."

They savored every moment of being together. The Mercer Island High School class of 1958 - is in a class of it's own.

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