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TOWNSEND — The gathering was planned at the last minute, but the event was 50 years in the making. Members of the Townsend High School class of 1960 came from near and far to reunite with old friends and classmates.

A beautiful autumn day greeted the returning alumni. As they assembled on the steps of their old school conversation flowed and laughter rang out.

Some wore name tags complete with high-school photographs; but those were not really needed. Names were called out from across the parking lot as each arrived, well before the tags could be seen.

The former students, some retired, still called their teachers “Mr.” Two teachers, Donald Keefe and Larry Wood, joined the group for the reunion.

The class was the next to last to graduate from Spaulding High School. The 1960 class of 42 people was evenly divided with 21 boys and 21 girls.

The building served so many students, some came in the morning and others in the afternoon for classes. The double session school day left some students at loose ends. “I became very good at cribbage,” one graduate said.

The alumni shared other recollections.

“I think we used to have the nicest graduations,” Sandy (Klingenberg) Dodson said. The junior class gathered pink and white laurel and covered an arbor for the seniors. The gym was colorfully decorated for the graduation.

Just a year after their graduation from Spaulding, North Middlesex Regional High School opened. But, even before a formal regional district began, it was not just Townsend students who attended what is now an elementary school.

Bob Anderson lived in Mason, N.H. The small town had no high school so students were “shipped out” to surrounding towns for their secondary education. Before attending Townsend, he attended Wilton High School.

Some graduates still live in Townsend, others traveled further. Many of the young men joined the service before settling down.

Sometimes, their Townsend heritage traveled with them. Walter Rossbach owned a dairy farm in Maine before selling it to move to Tennessee. His brother just sold his herd of cattle in Townsend.

Anderson even encountered another Spaulding School in Rochester, N.H. The schools were donated by the same Spaulding family, he said.

The Townsend Spauldings manufactured leather board, a material made of scrap leather, he said. They also had another factory in Rochester.

Jane (Tessier) Nichols and Dianne (Hussey) Knox organized the event. After the photograph of graduates and teachers on the steps, the group adjourned for an evening at the Townsend House.