Almont Class of '37 remembered
Lifelong resident recounts memories of classmates in interview with son
July 22, 2009ALMONT TWP. — What do you give someone for their 90th birthday?
How about a chance to remember? That's what Rick Bryce did for his dad, Colin A. Bryce, a little while back.
This year's celebration was already significant in many ways: hitting the 90 mark is pretty amazing. Colin also saw the official recognition of his family farm on Dryden Road as a Centennial farm this past December.
In an effort to keep all those memories and all that history alive, Rick thought it would be worthwhile to jot down his dad's recollections of his Almont High School friends, who graduated along with Colin in 1937.
"It's something I always wanted to do," Rick says. "I'm interested in history and knowing the history of where I grew up and it seemed like a great way to preserve it."
It was a relatively easy job, too, Rick says. Colin had recollections of all 36 classmates, and is the type of person who hangs onto things.
"My father has never thrown anything out," Rick grins. "He had the original program, the diploma, the class photo."
All of those items are reproduced and included in Rick's Almont Class of 1937 compilation, as is a photo of a tie tack that was given to each boy at graduation.
The tie tack, made by Hickok Distinctive Jewelry, bears a medallion with '37' on its face and is accompanied by a note that reads, "Smartest styling and finest quality are combined in HICKOK jewelry for men. It is guaranteed unconditionally for life."
Colin, apparently, has never tested the guarantee. Seven decades later, his keepsake is as good as new.
"It has never been out of the box," Rick says with a smile. "He still has the pocket watch his grandmother gave him when he graduated."
Rick, who graduated from Imlay City High School in 1970, lived on the farm until he was in the 6th grade. The family moved to Imlay while Colin took a "regular job," and didn't farm.
Still, the Bryce family tree has roots in the area that are pre-Civil War, and Rick says he enjoys learning all he can about where he's from.
The Class of 1937 compilation is the second book Rick's put together. A few years ago he wrote a book based on the romantic relationship of his grandparents, pieced together from a series of letters they exchanged. He donated a copy to the Henry Stephens Memorial Library in Almont.
This time around, Rick turned to his dad and longtime resident Margaret Farley to weave the memories.
Each classmate is listed by name, followed by a paragraph or more of recollections.
Under 'David Yoder,'is "David grew up on Bordman Road west of Van Dyke. His father was in the Spanish American War. His father had a cannon in front of the house. David was the youngest in a large family. Colin remembers how in the World Series of 1934 David bet on the St. Louis Cardinals over the Detroit Tigers (the Cardinals won). He was good friends with Oliver Weyer... After graduation David went to Houghton to college. He was always an entrepreneur, who even transported lumber. He moved to Venezuela and worked for an oil company. There he met and married a woman and had a family. When I (Rick) was in the fourth grade, he came back for a visit. His two daughters went to Almont schools for a couple of months and then they all returned home. He lived the rest of his life in Venezuela."
Margaret Szaal's memory reads as follows:
"Margaret's parents were farmers and she grew up in Allenton. She was popular and very friendly. Colin Bryce remembers that they played spin-the-bottle at the senior party. When he spun the bottle, he got to kiss her. She was secretary of the class and helped write 'The Class Prophecy.' After graduation, she married and moved to the Detroit area."
Rick sums up the memories with a final few paragraphs:
"Finally, as we look at the young fresh students of the Class of 1937, we realize how very many things that will be faced in their lives. They had already gone through the ravages of The Great Depression and would experience the horrendous affects of World War II...
As the year 2009 continues, most of the faces on which we gaze have experienced all the stages of human life. There are but six (as far as we know) that survive: Colin Bryce, Edna Hart, Doris Jean McLaren, Virginia Rogers, Pearl Schultz and George Wheeker. The irony of these times for the six survivors, is that in the beginning of their life they underwent economic chaos in their world. Now, as they reach the end of their years, the same is true."
Almont High School Class of 1937 graduates remembered include: Truman Bishop, Alma Bowman, Robert Bowman, Colin Bryce, Vernon Cole, Eleanor Currey, Hazel Dahn, Pauline Dome, Edna Hart, Janice Hastings, Ida Krisan, William Laurent, Marion Martin, Mauritz Massie, Doris Jean McLaren, Walter Messer, Charles Moore, Carl Oppenheim, Harry Pittenger, Mary Virginia Rogers, Pearl Schultz, Ruth Scully, Guila Smith, Ronald Starr, Frederick Swartz, Margaret Szaal, Elizabeth Tabor, Earl Warner, Oliver Weyer, Frank Weyer, George Wheeker, David Yoder and Samuel Yoder.
Editor's note: If you'd like to see a copy or find out more about Rick Bryce's compilation contact me at 810-724-2615 or email