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Healdsburg Class of 1955: ‘We were first!’

Class of 1955, Healdsburg High Schools first graduating class. (Provided photo)

ANN CARRANZA , TOWNS CORRESPONDENT

Members of the Healdsburg Senior High School Class of 1955 were outraged when they found that they were not given credit as the first graduating class.

About 10 years ago, Gino Bellagio discovered that, when the school moved to 1034 Prince St., the 1955 class portrait had gone missing and the first graduating class designation was given to the Class of 1956.

“It became my quest to find the damn picture,” said Pat McCracken, 1955 graduate, now 78. And the search was on.

They were all aware the photo had been featured in the Healdsburg Tribune, and after some searching McCracken found it. However, the quality was grainy and she said it was difficult to recognize individual students.

McCracken consulted with Arnold Santucci, the former Tribune owner and editor, to see if the newspaper knew what happened to the original photo or even the negative, to no avail.

The students had each paid $2 for the photograph, which included the entire class in their caps and gowns, but due to extensive flooding that winter in the Dry Creek Valley, the photos were missing.

The D & J Studios basement, owned by Dick Cadd, flooded and all the negatives and photos were destroyed.

Success came when Healdsburg High School librarian Carol Peterson got on the case.

Before retiring in 2014, she cleaned the library office of archival material and took two boxes of photos and yearbooks to the Healdsburg Museum. McCracken and her friend, Margaret Dean, went through the boxes and found the photo. McCracken immediately recognized herself, though the photo was unmarked. Phyllis Pedroncelli, another graduate of the Class of ’55, also was delighted with the find.

McCracken said she will take a copy of the photo to Healdsburg High School in the fall, to be displayed at the school.

The Class of ’55 is holding its 60th and final class reunion on Aug. 15 at the Krug Center, 198 Dry Creek Road. Information is available at PJPED@sbcglobal.net or 894-0384.