Letter to the Editor: High School Graduation in a Small Sweden Town in 1945

Herndon's Ruth Tatlock looks back on her own graduation as many local teens prepare to graduate.

Germany had capitulated to the Allies on the day our class had its final German language exam. Now Hitler was dead.

The heavy clouds over Europe had lifted.

My class of about sixty attended high school through the last years of World War II with all its scares and scarcity. Just about everything was rationed. Babies born after 1940 had never seen bananas! Yet, we Swedes were fortunate. We had not been invaded by the Germans like the Danes and Norwegians, not to mention the Finns, who had to give in to the Russians after fighting a brave winter war in 1939.

Graduation ceremony took place at the school in the morning. Girls dressed in white dress wearing white shoes, and boys in suits and tie. All of us wearing our gray velveteen caps signifying graduation. Going out the front door of the school we were met by, and hoisted in the air, by former graduates. Parents and friends were in the school yard to greet us with flowers and presents which were hung around our necks. A group photo was taken on the back steps. Two horse drawn wagons took the graduates from the school to Main Street which was lined with people. High school graduation was a big deal in our town.

At 6 p.m. we all got together on the town square with our bicycles and rode 15 kms (about 9 miles) to the next town where we (not our parents) had arranged to have our graduation party—a dinner dance. One person had a gramophone (the kind one had to crank every 4-5 minutes) on the package holder and others brought records. In spite of a power outage at the hotel, we managed to have a great time. We got back to our town at about 2 a.m. and walked up to the local view tower to watch the sunrise. It was a wonderful graduation celebration!

Now I read about high school senior proms and am amazed at the money being spent; hundreds of dollars for limo transportation and heaven only knows how much for clothing, etc. 

A glimpse of another era and another place.

Ruth Tatlock
Herndon, VA 


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