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Westport grads reunite after 75 years

ELIZABETHTOWN To the casual passerby, it might have seemed like an ordinary sight. Four women, all in their 90s, sat around a dinner table at the Horace Nye nursing home on Oct. 22, sharing a few stories and looking over old photographs as they enjoyed lunch together. Whats most amazing, however, is the story these women all share. Katherine (Sayre) Morse, Lois (Hadley) Billings, Murdy (Wrisley) Strong, and Oda (Rogers) Hogan were all among Westport Central Schools graduating class of 1933. Their reunion materialized somewhat by chance as separate paths converged at Horace Nye. Morse, Billings, and Strong all became residents there and soon realized that they were former classmates. Weve gotten to be real good friends, said Strong. I think I was just as glad to see her as she was to see me, said Billings, recalling her first encounter with Strong at the facility. It was like instant recognition. The class of 1933 happens to be the last class to have graduated from the old school building in Westport, which has since burned down. The current Westport Central School building was opened in the fall of that year. I often wonder if there are any others left that graduated with us, said Hogan, who traveled from downstate to meet with her former classmates after learning of their whereabouts. The four looked over several photographs from their school days, identifying classmates who they hadnt seen in more than half a century. One picture featured Hogan playing on the schools girls basketball team. Billings sported her class ring, which she said cost $8.50 the year she graduated. Its interesting to see the interactions after all these years, said Horace Nye Administrator Deborah Gifford, who helped Hogans family coordinate the reunion. Each of them fondly recalled one of their favorite teachers at Westport, Mr. Harry J. Connors, who they say was paid $4,000 annually to teach seven subjects and coach. Everybody loved Professor Connors, said Billings, who remembered how many of the students pushed to have the new school, or at least its athletic fields, dedicated in his name. Most of all, though, the four ladies expressed how fortunate they felt to meet together and share the common bond of their time in school. Those were good days, said Strong with a smile, Id love to have them back again.

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