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Article Published June 28, 2022

A Very Special Reunion

By Rita Christopher/

You have to be lucky, or else you won’t make it—make your 75th high school reunion, that is. But Essex resident Jacqueline Wolff was one of the lucky ones and she made the reunion happen. She arranged a luncheon at the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club for the graduating class of 1947 from Pratt High School in Essex. Pratt High School hasn’t disappeared. It is now Essex Town Hall. Students from Essex now combine with those from Chester and Deep River to attend Valley Regional High School.

Wolff brought her 1947 memorabilia to share: yearbook, with a memorial page to friends and classmates killed in World War II; the red school jacket she wore and has kept over the years; a book from an earlier reunion; an edition of the school newspaper the Prattler, and her high school diploma.

In those days, Wolff was Jacqueline Lea Greenberg, whose parents owned Greenberg’s Republic Department Store, then on Essex Main Street. Gwen Netsch, now Gwen Netsch Riggio was secretary of the class. Marjorie Zuppe, now Marjorie Zuppe Baroni, was the treasurer. The late Victor Bombaci was class president. His wife Gloria, a few years behind the class of 1947, attended in his memory. Murwin Johnson, now also deceased, was the class vice-president.

In those days, there were three elementary schools in Essex, one in each of the three villages. Elementary school went until 8th grade.

“We didn’t know each other until high school,” Wolff recalled.

There were the shouts of joy and recognition as people came in. A chorus of “Billy” greeted Bill Brink, who came with his wife Pat, once the proprietor of Pat’s Kountry Kitchen in Old Saybrook.

There were canes in evidence and at least one walker, but more important for the attendees were the intangibles: the memory of the halls of Pratt High School and the opportunity to revisit a time when life was young and the future stretched out before them.