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July 1, 2006 Linda Sherrill, left, and Debbie Megarit look through a class year book during their 30 year class reunion at Northwest Pizza Pasta Co. Friday night in Ashland. Photos by Orville Hector | Daily Tidings

Cruisin’ Lithia Park, head shops, burger joints among 30-year-old memories

Thirty years ago in Ashland, the average Friday night for high school students consisted of either a football or basketball game, followed by some “cruising” from Lithia Park up to a burger joint on the south end of town called ‘Rich Maid,’ said a man named Dan, who was celebrating his thirty year high school reunion from Ashland High School on Friday night.

“We’d go back and forth,” he said, comparing the experience to the movie ‘American Graffiti.’ “It was a big loop. We’d go from the upper duck pond back to Rich Maid.”

The Ashland High School Class of 1976 met for their 30th High School Reunion on Friday night, and many of them lamented the changes Ashland has gone through over the years.

“I miss the hometown feeling,” said a man who would only identify himself as Jim and still lives in Jackson County. “It’s grown. There are too many people; too many rules.”

Others said they miss the way the businesses used to cater to laid-back locals, instead of out-of-town tourists.

— — Theresa McCoy, right, shows Jeff Harlan, left, class photos from a year book during their 30th class reunion at Northwest Pizza Pasta Co. Friday night in Ashland.

Rare Earth, a downtown business, “was a head shop back then,” said Georgine Richardson, who used to be Georgine Johnson before she got married and moved to Medford. “It used to smell really good in there.”

A friend of hers, Debbie Megarit, said the store, which more recently has been critical of people loitering downtown used to serve fresh lemonade back then, as well as double as a record shop, and the high school students used to congregate there.

Gary Davidson, who wore number 11 as the quarterback of the AHS Grizzlies football team, said, “It’s gotten busier, and more upscale. What used to be run-down cottages near the railroad tracks are now fixed up cottages.”

Davidson said he left town “as soon as I got out of school.” He now lives in North Bend, Washington.

The fact that Davidson moved away from Southern Oregon might make him the minority in the class of ‘76. Linda Sherill, whose maiden name was Perry, said, “the majority of the people that went to school here still live in the Valley. And the people who left, most of them came back.”

Sherill said the house she grew up in is now an adult foster care center, and Ashland Hospital - where she was born- is now the Stevenson Union at Southern Oregon University, which was Southern Oregon College back then.

However, even if many of them stayed in the Valley, few still live in Ashland, said Janet Morgan, who was Janet Zollman in high school. She said her and her husband Wayne, who graduated in 1974, moved to Phoenix “because we couldn’t afford to live here. Talent and Phoenix were considered cowboy towns back then.”

Scott Martin, a Rogue Valley contractor, said he sees some good and bad aspects to the changes Ashland has experienced over the years.

“There are no longer horses tied up in front of the Log Cabin,” he said, of the somewhat infamous bar that was a Plaza institution back in those days. “It was still Oregon back then.”

However, being in the construction business, the changes haven’t been all bad for Martin. “But the real estate investments make up for all that. Thank you people from Monterey,” he said rhetorically to the many people who have moved north to Ashland and consequently helped create the real estate bubble.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or bplain@dailytidings.com.


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