Napa High Class of ’66 Perpetual Reunion
For some people, graduation day is their last high school memory until the five, ten or fifty year reunion. For a group of women who attended Napa High School, a perpetual reunion that began more than fifty years ago continues this year.
Lynn Carriker, like many of her Napa High School Class of 1966 classmates, is a Napa native. She was born in 1948 at Parks Victory Hospital (which was on Jefferson Street, across and about one-half block south, from where Buttercream Bakery now stands) and then attended Lincoln Elementary School (now New Tech High School), Mt. George Elementary School, Vichy Elementary School, Silverado Jr. High School, Napa High School and then Napa Jr. College (now Napa Valley College).
Soon after high school, along with a few of her classmates, Lynn began a Class of ’66 group. “There are 80 women in our Class of 1966 Napa High group. About 40 of which are active,” Lynn said, “We meet every other month for dinner.”
The group does have rules, they meet at local restaurants that can accommodate 25 to 30 people. “We have a rule that only Napa High Class of 1966 women are invited, with an occasional guest. We also occasionally get together as couples, for brunch or a meal where spouses are invited,” Lynn explained.
The women are traveling the path of life together according to Lynn who said, “We mostly laugh, talk, eat, discuss and share our happiness and sorrows, our families. We have discussed all phases of our lives over the years, and now that we have all turned 70 this year, we are all sharing what it is like to grow older.”
The members of the group have found it interesting that they are all so different and lead such different lives. Still, their connection and the singular thread that draws them together is their past – growing up in small-town Napa. “Even though we are so different, we shared the same innocence and lives growing up,” Lynn added stating that once someone joins the group, they too feel the closeness and want to remain involved.
“Most of us have agreed that we have gained a sisterhood with each other that will continue throughout our lives,” said Lynn, “There is a genuine happiness that we all feel when we’re together. We have friendship groups within our group that get together to spend a day shopping, or go to movies together as a group. We have even had slumber parties together. We have a Christmas Party every year, and each person brings a $20 gift card that we play a game with. We all leave full of Christmas spirit and happiness.”
When comparing the women of today, to her own generation, Lynn said that so many young women say that they wish they could have what her group has, “I tell them all that they have to do is make an effort to stay with it.”
While the generation of today would likely remark that their perpetual reunion keeps in touch via social media platforms such as Facebook, Lynn agrees that technology has made an impact on the women of today versus the women of the Class of ’66, “We do email each other, but have found that there is nothing better than getting together face to face.”
When the group first started to meet, it was because one of the women was ill and she wanted to have a small reunion from their class. The mini-reunion felt so special that the women wanted to continue to meet. For years, there were only about ten to fifteen regular members that met monthly, “It took a lot to keep organizing meals but it was so great that we kept it up,” Lynn remembers. It has continued to grow into what is now a large group of committed women who would not miss it. “It is a precious gift for all of us.”
The women also contribute $20 annually to their own charitable fund that has raised dollars for Napa High student scholarships and various local non-profit groups. They have also honored former classmates that have passed away, by installing plaques on seats in the Napa Valley Unified School District Auditorium inside the historic, former Napa High School building.
Like most Napa Valley kids of her generation, Lynn picked prunes and baby sat every summer as a teenager to earn money for school clothes. She went on from her formal education in the Napa Valley to work for title companies and several real estate lenders. Then in 1988 she became a partner with a general contractor, retiring from that profession after more than 20 years.
Lynn is also a mom to her son Aaron Nichols who also graduated from Napa High School 24 years after her class, in 1990. Today, she is happily married, an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Napa, and spends much of her time working with non-profits to help make Napa an even better place.
For women of today, Lynn would suggest that people keep in touch with their classmates, “You don’t have to wait for a reunion to see each other.” The Class of 1966 group always makes another date to get together before they leave a meet-up. They also post the dinner dates for the entire year, so that everyone can mark their calendars and save the dates.
Lynn says that mostly the group simply has a great time whenever they are together, “The laughter is wonderful. We all leave feeling great joy!”