CBS-TV 20th Century Series episode: "Class of '58"

By Don Browne, Harding Class of 1962

I recently saw an archival 16 mm copy of the CBS-TV 20th Century Series episode, "Class of '58."  This was my introduction to Warren Harding High School, as an 8th grader at Franklin Elementary School on Nickols Street in Bridgeport, CT. I would soon become an "afternoon student", a freshman, at Harding in September 1958. The program was narrated by Walter Cronkite and aired on channel 2 New York on March 23, 1958.

The program focused on three students, Ted Jartos, Barbara Hutchinson, and David Butka, who were struggling with "what to do with their lives after high school." The fourth protagonist, Bonnie Sullivan was absolutely sure that she was going to college.

There was no question about it in her mind. The others worried about high school grades, being "accepted" in their school of choice, and how their families were going to afford it.

Scenes were filmed everywhere at Harding; the teachers lounge, assistant principal's office, Senior's conference room, several classrooms, hallways, and in the auditorium (during the traditional Thanksgiving pep assembly). The legendary principal, Frank J. McKee, was featured, as well as several teachers, all of whom were at Harding, and whose classes I attended, from 1959-1962. Exterior scenes were filmed at "Bunny's Restaurant & Caterers", and in "Hedges' Memorial Stadium."

The segment in "Bunny's" was especially revealing. One camera "angle" was down the long counter, past the pinball machine, and through the picture window, which looked down Central Avenue. The original "shoot" occurred October-November 1957. Pictured are many vintage automobiles and trucks, turning right or left from Central Avenue to Boston Avenue.

Real students, teachers, parents, and principals were featured in this program. I'm not sure about the spelling of their names, but the four students were very serious and sincere. Does anyone know what became of these students and their dreams???

For those of the Harding Class of '58 who are reading this anecdote, you will probably remember that "Alan Freed's Rock & Roll Party" was THE BIG THING from 7 p.m. to Midnight on TEN-TEN-WINS. Also that "bandstand-type" shows began over the previous summer (July 1957); Alan Freed's Big Beat (WABC-TV, channel 7) and Dick Clark's Bandstand (which replaced "Big Beat" on channel 7).

Update: What became of those students? (Courtesy of Ray Ciuchta and Sam Caiola, WHHS Class of '58)

Bonnie Sullivan became WHHS Class of '58 Valedictorian, and most likely went to one of the "Seven Sisters" (Ivy League) Colleges; Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, or Wellesley. Dave Butka did go to Montana, tried his hand at his grandma's farm, and returned back to the Bridgeport area, possibly Trumbull. Barbara Hutchinson did go to the University of Bridgeport, but left after her freshman year. Ted Jartos disappeared from the radar screen. (Webmaster Note: Classmate Ed Hardy reports Ted was living in the Hartford, CT, area when he last spoke with him around 1994.)

Update: Who were the other Harding students, the so-called "extras", who appeared in "Class of '58"? (Courtesy of Bob Hughes, WHHS Class of '58) 

Students shown in the Senior conference room scenes were: Dave Butka, Myles Goodson, Sylvia Gomes, Bob Hughes  (also "the student playing the pinball machine" in Bunny's scenes), Barbara Hutchinson, Ted Jartos, Norman Marland, Shelia Roche, and Bonnie Sullivan.

Update: The WHHS 1958 "Torch" Yearbook description of "Operation Brainpower", the working title of the "Class of '58" production. (Courtesy of Sam Caiola, WHHS Class of '58)

According to the Yearbook, "Operation Brainpower" starred the following students: Dave Butka, Barbara Hutchinson, Ted Jartos, Myles Goodson, Bonnie Sullivan, Sylvia Gomes, Norman Marland

The production consisted of two 35mm film cameras, a Nagra tape recorder, and many lights. The production was filmed in black & white.

From the memory of Don Browne (Harding Class of '62)

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