Warren High's first graduating class to celebrate 50 years

DOWNEY - In 1959, Harvey's Broiler was Downey's teenage hot spot. Dwight Eisenhower was the President of the United States and Elvis Presley was the newly crowned King of Rock and Roll."It was a great era - from the dances to the music," said Terry Peterson, who graduated from Warren High School that same year. "On Friday and Saturday nights, we'd go to the drive-in or carhop. I'd find someone to drag race on what we called the Paramount extension in Pico Rivera." Today, Peterson is just one of the 133 alumni attending the 50-year reunion for Warren High School's first graduating class. George Zambrano, who served as Warren's first student body president, now heads the reunion committee, which has organized a weekend-long series of events for alumni coming to see familiar faces and share old memories. "We're going to have a good turnout. We don't usually get this many," said Zambrano, who expects nearly 200 guests to attend. "There are only about 10 to 12 people that still live in Downey, most are scattered throughout Orange County and northern California." Peterson and his wife, Thelma, were high school sweethearts while at Warren. "I was co-captain of the football team and she was one of the song leaders," Peterson said. "My old Warren High letterman jacket has been worn for three generations - my son wore it and my grandson. He just graduated from Warren last year." Born and raised in Downey, Terry and Thelma lived in the city for more than 60 years before moving to Cambria several years ago. For 45 years, the couple has helped Zambrano with the class reunions. "We have a lot of friends in this class. It's exciting to get back and see how people are doing," said Terry. "We have a special relationship - we all went in as 10th graders and for three years, we were the top class." Warren High School was dedicated in 1955 and originally named Earl Warren High in honor of the former California governor and Supreme Court chief justice, who was immensely popular during the mid-50s. Warren alumni Tom and Jean Walsh met in high school, but went their separate ways after graduation. The two reconciled after seeing each other at a Warren class reunion and kept in touch afterwards. In 2001, they married. Determined to join their classmates at the 50-year reunion, the Walshes will drive down from San Luis Obispo County to be there. "We've had five reunions up here where about 15 of us have gotten together," said Jean, over the phone. "We were a close knit group of students." Zambrano, who now lives in Upland, said reunion festivities will include a cocktail party this evening at the Embassy Suites Hotel starting at 5 p.m., a tour of the Warren campus and a reunion dinner tomorrow night at the Rio Hondo Golf Club from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. "It's going to be a fun program," Zambrano said. "We want to go table by table and have each classmate tell us about their memories. There will be a dance floor - we'll be playing the oldies from the '50s."

********** Published: October 16, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 26