Denfeld News

July 31, 2015
Duluth Budgeteer News

Denfeld classmates hold 70-year reunion
By Teri Cadeau

Classmates from Denfeld High School's class of 1945 met up last week to share memories, catch up with old friends and reminisce about what Duluth was like way back when. About 20 classmates and their spouses or children gathered in the Spirit Mountain Chalet to visit and look at old yearbooks from 70 years ago.

Violet Schilla Parson planned the event, which she says will be their last official gathering.

"It's nice to see who could make it. It's been a long time since I've seen some of these classmates," Parson said.

The classmates remembered various things about Denfeld from back in the day. But one name that was mentioned frequently was Principal Taylor.

"He was a very imposing, structured man," said classmate Harry Munger.

James Taylor was Denfeld's longest-serving principal, having held the position for 27 years. He retired in 1945, the same year these classmates graduated. He was remembered as a great principal.

"Mr. Taylor was something amazing. We looked to him as this great father figure. He was synonymous with Denfeld. He commanded attention when he stood in front at the school assemblies," said Lorrayne Carlson Johnson.

Harry Munger remembers an encounter with Taylor. He had stepped out of class to get a drink of water at the fountain, when he felt someone stand close to him. He looked up at Principal Taylor.

"He said, 'Ah, you must be new here.' And I said 'Yes, sir.' 'You must be Mr. Munger.' And I said, 'Yes, sir.' 'Well, we welcome you here to our school. You can pretty much do what you like here, but you will suffer the consequences of your actions.' And that's something that's always stuck with me," Munger said.

Munger moved to Duluth from Fergus Falls in the middle of his sophomore year. He went on to practice law in Duluth for 55 years. You might recognize his name as he is the brother of well-known politician Willard Munger.

Another shared memory among the classmates was the sports games. Munger was the manager of the football and basketball teams. Lorrayne Johnson recalls attending football games on Friday nights.

"Everyone would go to the games. It was what you did to have fun on a Friday and we had such good teams," Johnson said.

Marcella Staly Freeman, on the other hand, remembers her Saturday nights as the most fun. She would get together with her eight best friends and go to the local dry nightclub.

"It was a place that didn't allow any drinking. You just would go there to go dancing. Some of us would work the coat check, some would stamp hands and we'd stay to help clean up afterwards," Freeman said. "We pitched in because we liked the place. We'd go there to meet people from the other schools in town."

Freeman's group of eight friends were called the "V8s." The eight of them remained friends over the years and would visit each other often, even though some had moved to other cities and states.

"It helped that our husbands all knew each other and got along well. Of course, we're all widows now. But we still see each other," Freeman said.

Five of the eight friends made it to the reunion and shared a big table together. They reminisced about ski trips, hiking adventures and Ouija board game nights that took place over the years.

And why were they called the V8s?

"Because we formed back when it was wartime. V for victory was everywhere. And there were eight of us," Freeman said. "We had to call ourselves something."

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