Perfect participation at a class reunion is rare. Even more so is perfect attendance at a 70-year reunion.
Both occurred in Minot this past week.
That's correct. Every graduate of the Tagus High School class of 1943 made it to their 70th class reunion this past Wednesday at Homesteader's Restaurant - both of them.
Ruth Aas, left; and Helen Huntington were the only two graduates of Tagus High School class of 1943. The duo celebrated their 70th class reunion earlier this week. Both are 88 years old.
Ruth Aas and Helen Huntington, both 88 years old, still had the gleam of high school graduates during the remarkable luncheon reunion. The two the only graduating seniors from Tagus High in 1943.
"The war took a lot of people out of there," recalled Huntington during the lunchtime gathering. "What I remember is that there was snow on the ground when school started in late September in 1942, and we had snow on the ground the fourth of June when we graduated."
Tagus is located on U.S. Highway 2 about 40 miles west of Minot, approximately mid-way between Berthold and Blaisdell. The town reached a maximum population of about 140 in 1940. The school had about 20 students in the high school grades in the early 1940s. It closed for good in 1961.
Today, Tagus is considered a ghost town by many, complete with tales of haunted encounters circulating on the internet.
"Our town has just evaporated, I guess," said Huntington. "I haven't seen it for a couple of years. I guess there's not many people left there."
Aas attended 12 years of school at the old Tagus schoolhouse. Huntington arrived in the second grade, a transfer from what she called a "country school." The two Tagus students became good friends and, later, graduates that have never lost touch of each other.
"We've been getting together maybe every five years, celebrating," said Ruth Aas. "I got married in October of 1943 and was married for 65 years before my husband passed away. I've got two children, three grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren."
Aas lived in North Dakota for 30 years prior to moving to Salem, Ore. She's lived there for 58 years but still calls North Dakota home.
"But it certainly has changed," said Aas, laughing.
The still spry 88-year-old said she worked in the berry and bean fields when she arrived in Oregon.
"Later I was a platoon leader, picking up kids and taking them to the fields," said Aas. "After that I worked in the cannery for 23 years. We canned beans, corn, a little bit of everything."
Huntington began a life-long teaching career as soon as she graduated from Tagus High. She spent her first two years at the front of the class at a country school south of Blaisdell. Huntington also taught at Tagus, Ross and Stanley before taking a position at Washington School in Minot.
"I think I started at Washington, the old Washington, in 1956," said Huntington.
The brick Washington Elementary Huntington taught in was razed a few years ago to make way for an apartment complex.
"I was at Washington for 32 years, basically teaching fourth grade but I had everything from two through six during that time," said Huntington.
When asked about the uniqueness of an entire graduating class getting together for a 70-year reunion, Huntington smiled and offered this reply.
"We're really not going for 100, but if it happens, we'll take it," she said, laughing. "We made it to 70 anyway and we're happy for that!"
"She's been out to visit me a few times in Oregon," said Aas. "It's been pretty consistent. We've been friends since the second grade."
If the Tagus graduates follow their past history, their next class reunion will be held sometime in 2018. Both women would be 93 years old.