Mission Central Catholic High School in the Sixties

In this section of my website you will find images from the 1960s of what was then known as Mission Central Catholic High School in San Luis Obispo, California. (See the school history here.)

Learn about The Sisters, Their Habits, and Their Hollywood Connection. Explore students newspapers from Mission High School in the 1960s.

Special thanks to Thomas J. Schum for producing the digital versions of these images so that I could share them with you online here.

Washington, DC 2007
Washington, DC 2007

After nearly 30 years of never having attended one single high school reunion in San Luis Obispo, I was contacted out of the blue by Thomas J. Schum. At that time, I was 3,000 miles away from San Luis Obispo living and working in the Washington, DC region. It turns out that Tom happened also to live in Northern Virginia as I did. So, we reconnected in person in 2007.

Before he met me at the agreed upon location in Arlington, Virginia, Tom assured me over the phone that he would recognize me as an old guy. He said he had pictures of me. I told him not to rely upon those because I had stopped coloring my hair. He probably thought I was in witness protection. Eventually, Tom put together what he called a micro reunion in the Eastern Time Zone with fellow Mission high school alums, Anne Madden and Mary Nimmo.

At a Washington, DC restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue, we all had many laughs and recalled memories that we believed certainly had faded with the passage of so much time since we were kids in San Luis Obispo.

Tom and I remembered how we served on the student newspaper staff together with several of our Mission high schoolmates. If you look carefully at the 1968 photograph below, you may be able to recognize some of us from back in the day. Tom said that he thought I must be a hoarder because I saved ancient artifacts that we once knew as our student newspaper and high school yearbooks.

1968 newspaper staff
1968 newspaper staff
A guy and his accordion
A guy and his accordion

In the glorious 1960s when we were teenagers, we all endured mortifyingly embarrassing high school moments that shaped who we became as adults.

My parents were loving, yet apparently also cruel. One piece of damning evidence I have regarding Ed and Evelyn’s curious choices in raising me in the sleepy little town of San Luis Obispo is that they compelled me to take accordion lessons and watch The Lawrence Welk Show each week on television for inspiration.

Apparently, this parental brainwashing exacted a deep toll upon me. I found this photograph from a Mission high school talent show inside one of the yearbooks that Tom said I had hoarded. I don’t remember participating in any high school talent show. Nor do I remember when this photograph was taken. I guess that’s me with the dreaded instrument strapped to my chest. Hysterical amnesia is a terrible thing. And, no surprise, I never grew up to be a professional musician.

Even after many decades, I still consider Richard Tietje, my favorite teacher from Mission high school, to be one of the most formative influences upon my life:


You just may find that you can recognize some of these young people with strange hair styles from photographs taken 50 years ago:























19 thoughts on “Mission Central Catholic High School in the Sixties

  1. Hi Woody (I still call you Elwood though & hope you don’t mind).

    We missed you at our class reunion. We enjoyed hearing from you today, though!! You look great!!! Keep in touch. And come to the next reunion.

    Chuck and Becky (Harter) Murphy

  2. I am glad you hoarded those books. I thought I remembered everyone but after looking at the pictures I obviously don’t! I wish you could have made it to the reunion. It was small but fun. I live in Fallbrook, but do spend some time in Vegas and also San Francisco. My mom is still alive and living in SLO so I get there as often as possible. What do you do In San Francisco? That is really a long commute! Hope to see you at a later reunion. Nancy Shea

  3. Well, I thought I would recognize everyone but found I didn’t! It was fun though and I really enjoyed our time at Debbie’s house. Wish you could have been there.
    Peg (Bond) Luebbers

  4. What a wonderful web page! Thank you for the time and effort you put into it, as well as your thoughtful and humorous comments. And is that PAUL McCARTNEY between Mary Kay Maginot and Dan Matulich? I remember you playing the accordian in the talent show, by the way. Happy Days, to all appearances!

  5. Woody, great pics. I t is always a great time seeing everyone; even if it’s not in person. Nancy, Chuck, Becky, and Peg Hi to all. Chuck How’s Baja? Woody, sorry I couldn’t make it, but I was setting up my two wine bars at the Mid-State Fair in Paso. Take everyone, Tommy Gonyer

    1. Hi Tommy!! We still haven’t made it to Baja since we talked with you last. Our kitty came down with cancer and was unable to travel with us so we stayed home with him. We bought a fixer-upper on Maui and are here in Kihei now. Lots of work but loving it!! We plan to head to Baja after this project. That will probably be in February so if you are down there in March again, give us a holler—chuckandbeck1@gmail.com. Aloha!!!

  6. I had saved this to look at later and had forgotten it. I enjoyed your web page and see you on FB. Living in AG made it impossible for some us to participate in school activities but I always felt a camaraderie with my classmates because of the years we endured together suffering through catholic schooling… You’re looking good… Perhaps a mini reunion on the west coast in the future?

    1. oh and I will TOTALLY agree with your most influential teacher – Mr. Tietje was the most impressive, most influential, most exciting teacher I ever had! still remember him in World History running into the classroom with a cape on and sword in hand and jumping on the desk to “conquer” the class. I have no idea which of the Spanish Wars it was – but what a memory

  7. Woody,
    What a great re-connect! Our class just enjoyed a weekend of fun celebrating our 45th Class reunion! Many memories and laughs shared. We started at Nancy Parent Thompson’s on Friday night for a “Meet and Greet”. about 8 couples continued on having dinner at McPhee’s in Templeton. Saturday we gathered at Madonna Inn for a dinner and shared many pictures from High School. That was thanks to Tom Schum who had saved and shared the black and white pictures from school. As you mentioned earlier, he was the resident photographer during our high school years. Cindy Roberson reproduced the pictures and had them laying on the tables to be shared by all! We ended the Saturday evening on the dance floor at Madonna Inn. Coach John Irraberran stopped by to say hello. a group of classmates joined in for breakfast on Sunday morning before leaving for home. A great time was had by all!
    Thanks Woody for having this blog!
    Connie Biaggini Spradling
    It was a conscious that Mr. Tietge was the best teacher ever!

  8. Hi Woody, great article. Thanks for posting this. As for Mr. Tietje, I remember the first class I had with him. I think it was history, at any rate, he started to ask the class questions about what we had learned the year before. Few, if any, could answer them. So he took off his coat, swung it about, raised his voice, etc. To this day, I think he was one of the top three teachers I had in High School.
    Art Spring…Class of ’67

  9. Hi Woody, Thanks for sharing. When my husband looked at our senior yearbook, he said, “Deb, they put your name under somebody else’s picture?” He couldn’t believe I looked like that, as I became an SF Hippie soon after. I don’t know how to organize this, but it would be funny to see now and then pictures, side by side.

  10. Great time I had goin to school in SLO looking at the pictures bring back great memories My regards to every body I met during that time
    Jose Leon

  11. In that 1968 photo of our high school newspaper staff here on my website, you can see me seated to the left of Deb (Boyce) Spatafore. The other night, I woke up suddenly after Deb appeared in a dream of mine. We were in the present day and we did not look like kids who were 17 or 18 in high school. I am unable to recall anything of what we said to one another in that dream, but I do remember how it felt like a very good visit.

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