FARMINGTON — In 1967, the Vietnam War, miniskirts and space travel were on the minds of eighth-grade students at Hermosa Middle School in Farmington. Forty-seven years ago, the eighth graders mentioned those topics in letters they wrote to future students. Lola Delaney, the school's librarian, recently found the letters while cleaning the school's library.
"I can relate to everything in here because I was their age when this was done," she said.
Delaney was cleaning Hermosa Middle School's library a few months ago in preparation for the school's temporary relocation to the old Tibbetts Middle School while crews renovate and expand Hermosa.
She remembers seeing the cardboard magazine storage box with the letters before, but she pushed it to the side. But the move prompted her to go through everything, including the box.
On the day Delaney discovered the letters, she found a letter at the top of the stack that read "to a student in 1987." She's not sure if students from 1987 ever received the letters written by students 20 years before.
Delaney shared the 31 letters — all dated in April 1967 — with students in the middle school's National Junior Honor Society and the club's sponsor, Brianne Haskill.
"I thought this group of kids is the type of kids that will really appreciate this," Haskill said.
Holly Woodside, an eighth-grader at Hermosa, said her favorite letter is one written by Holly Smith, who states she will be "your guide to the past."
"I love how she included lots of stuff about her favorite bands and fashion," Woodside said, adding those are the kinds of things she would have included, too.
Every year, Hermosa Middle School hosts a celebration for high school seniors who attended the school. As sixth graders, Hermosa students create time capsules, and the school returns them to the students when they graduate high school.
This year, the school is inviting members of the Hermosa Class of 1967 who wrote the letters to come to the event, which will be at 3:45 p.m. May 19 at the school.
Woodside and Rachel Carlson, another eighth grade, organized the letters in a binder so attendees can look through them.
"They talk about the invention of the miniskirt a lot," Carlson said.
The students in 1967 described the miniskirt as two inches above the knee. Area schools, though, banned miniskirts, as well as hair curlers. One of the 1967 letter writers included an article from The Daily Times about Bloomfield High School's dress code, which stated girls were not allowed to wear pants.
"Cars back then only cost $2,000," Carlson said, pointing to an ad one of the boys included for a Corvette.
Several students also wrote about the culture at the time and current events, including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963,.
"There are a lot of articles on the JFK assassination and the legacy that they thought he'd leave behind," Woodside said.
Another common theme was war, and many students included articles and pictures from the Vietnam War, which started in December 1956 and continued until April 1975.
"This year the Viet Nam [sic] War is in full swing," Debbie Boyd wrote in her letter. "Although we have not officially declared war, our boys are fighting to keep freedom alive. Freedom is a special thing and should not be taken for granted."
Jonathan Alfred Clawson Redford
Others, like Gene Bridgford, wrote about the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
"Negros are looked down upon in the southeastern states and demonstrations and riots are frequently heard of," he wrote. "I am not against the Negro and I feel that the whites are wrong in looking down upon the Negro."
Dane McNeil wrote in his letter that the assignment was given to students in Mrs. Ogden's English class by her student teacher, Mrs. Jaramillo.
Alma Ogden became Hermosa Middle School's librarian in 1987, but Delaney and Haskill don't know if she ever gave the letters to the Class of 1987 or if the Class of 1967 received any letters in response.
McNeil explained in his letter he was a member of a band called the Points of Interest that played for several dances and made "pretty good money from it for a while."
"The Beatles were the top singing group for about three years and I don't even know if you have ever heard of them," he said.
He added that other groups like The Rolling Stones, The Byrds and The Yardbirds had a "really groovy sound."
McNeil, who lived on 30th Street in Farmington, said he could see the airport from his backyard. He added that Farmington was a town of 30,000 people.
His father was the terminal manager for Garrett Freightlines Inc., and, in 1967, the truck workers were on strike.
"We don't know what is going to come of it, but we hope it will be cleared up soon," he wrote. "We've been getting calls on the telephone all day from men who want to know if they are going to be working or not. The Teamsterss [sic] Union is the one that has gone on strike for higher wages I guess. It's all kind of mixed up right now."
One of the letters included an article detailing what life would be like in the 21st century. The article mentioned housewives making menus on computers and ordering food via computers.
"They still thought we would just be housewives," Woodside said with a laugh.
Haskill, who teaches English, was impressed by the students' writing.
"What I really loved about these letters was the handwriting was impeccable," Haskill said.
As they put together the binder, Woodside and Carlson read through the letters and articles.
"We did definitely learn a lot from this," Woodside said.
Often, she shared the information with her dad, who filled in the gaps with background and history.
Carlson said she was shocked to learn about the Vietnam War.
"When you see the articles from the Vietnam War, yeah, it really was terrible," she said.