Back in March, Fairfield High School graduate (Class of 1979) Tammie Klinker Mayes was reading an old… over a century old… story in the Sun Times that sparked an idea.
The story was reprinted from the Great Falls Tribune of October 1, 1916 (the story can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/2L6ztRy), and reported on all the excitement in the community when the governor of Montana came to town to celebrate the dedication of Fairfield’s original Community Hall.
“Imagine that,” Tammie said during an interview at the Sun Times’ office, “the Governor of Montana came to Fairfield and it made the front page of the Great Falls Tribune – and people from Cascade, Great Falls, Power, Choteau… and from all walks of life… came to Fairfield!” Tammie continued, “I thought ‘WOW!’ all this excitement in little Fairfield, Montana just to dedicate the Fairfield Community Hall for people to experience connections.”
She would like to use the event to “honor those who dedicated the Fairfield Community Hall 103 years ago – I want to bring back the Saturday night dance.”
Tammie also recalled how that, even in 1979, people in Fairfield – and elsewhere – “got out” more. “People nowadays don’t realize the value of personal, real interactions. It can be going with the family to church or it can be some ‘adult time,’ a chance for people to kick up their heels. That human, and real – as opposed to social media interaction – feeds the soul.”
According to Tammie, the idea of a ’79 Class Reunion and Community Hall dance began to grow when she discussed the idea with classmates Mike Manuel and Cory Wells.
The planned reunion has expanded beyond the Fairfield Community Hall into a full day for the 79’ers.
The day will begin for the class with the Swim Day Parade on Saturday, with the theme for the float, “Cruise the Drag Like it’s 1979.”
Asked if “cruising the drag” in 1979 meant traveling to Great Falls, Tammie told the Sun Times, “no,” that Fairfield’s Central Avenue served as the “drag.”
And what did the teenagers in Fairfield listen to on their cassette players and 8-tracks in 1979? “38 Special’s ‘Hot Blooded’ and Foghat’s ‘Slow Ride,’” said Tammie. After some discussion she expanded the list: The Knack’s “My Sharona,” which was a number one hit for the year of 79; Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” “More than a Feeling,” by Boston, The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” “Double Vision” by Foreigner and Queen’s “We Will Rock You“ and “We Are The Champions,” which went on to become anthems at school sporting events.
She said that the popular spot in Fairfield was the Copper Kettle and the Aragon (for burgers and bowling). Another popular spot to go and eat was the Fireside Inn in Simms and the Jack Club in Great Falls.
How about Choteau? According to Tammy, the school rivalry existed 40 years ago, too. But the kids did go to the Log Cabin, which back then had a drive-in area. “That rivalry did not exist with Power,” said Tammie, “so we would ride over there to eat at Les’ Bar and the Power Pole.
After the parade, members of the class plan to visit Fairfield High School to trigger some of the memories.
Cory Wells and Mike Manuel will emcee “Class Night 2019” at the Community Hall. Music will be provided by the Steve Keller Band (it will be Keller’s last gig, according to Tammie, as he will be moving out of the country).
According to Tammie, the idea of bringing in a band began early, with the idea gaining momentum quickly after it was shared with classmates. “Within twenty-four hours, we had enough pledges from classmates to pay for the band.
Classmates stepped in to help other ways. For example, Ralph Peterson had banners and posters made. One of banners is hanging on the east end of Central Avenue in front of the welcome center. Cory Wells from 92.9 FM has been using his DJ talent and connections to get the word out.
“Hopefully no one discuss the 40 year rivalry with Shelby while we’re cruising in the parade,” Tammie said with a laugh. “Our driver in the parade, Pat Kimmet, is a Shelby Coyote.
Special guests for Class Night will be Mrs. Dorothy Kinna and Mr. Bernie Bissell.
After recalling events from the Class of ’79, the night will move to memories of the late seventies and how things have changed since. “Remember ‘party (telephone) lines’?” asked Tammie. “Or that a long-distance call to Great Falls was cheaper after eight o’clock? And ‘phone booths.’” The last phone booth Tammie could recall in Fairfield was at the Circle K.
The plan is to ask everyone at the reunion when they got their first cell phone? Personal computer? Remember when “we walked the halls of school and looked at each other, not our cell phones; when we passed notes in class?”
Tammie, speaking to the matter of “downloading” music pointed out that in 1979 – long before the internet and streaming music and videos, people were, in effect “downloading” music. “We would take our cassette recorder and put it next to the radio, record the songs we liked, and then play that cassette over and over again.”
Saturday night’s events will get underway after the day’s Swim Day events, with a reunion program starting at 6:00 p.m., and the Steve Keller Band taking to the stage at 8:00 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public, but there will be a free will donation bucket. Proceeds will go towards the improvements at the Community Hall.
For more information, contact Tammie Klinker Mayes at 406-750-7748, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org