Members of the Class of 1962 at the old Urbandale High School remain vibrant, productive members of the Urbandale community more than 50 years later. From volunteering to organizing, the group works and plays together whenever they can, culminating every five years with a reunion to share stories of days gone by. Their friendships have stood the test of time.
Sandi Patton is one of many students who attended all 13 years at the Urbandale school, which used to be located at 70th and Douglas. Her name is permanently memorialized on a plaque that sits near the Walgreens store where the original school used to stand.
Patton helps organize the reunion for the Class of ‘62, one of the groups that attended all 13 years at the old location. She sends out periodic newsletters that are decorated with pictures and articles, updating classmates on the exploits of one of Urbandale’s original classes.
Patton loves her role in keeping her classmates together and is proud of the many class members who are still active members of the Urbandale community such as Harald Lamberts, also a member of the reunion committee and a graduate of the original school who has spent his entire life in Urbandale after emigrating from Latvia as a child.
“We were the best. What can I say? We had a wonderful class,” Patton says laughing.
There were many memories that were made, and that have passed the test of time, during those formative years — memories such as the bell atop the monastery at the location that is now Merle Hay Mall, which used to signal the end of the day or time to return home. They laugh at the punishments that were handed out if you dared to be late. They speaking warmly and with deep nostalgia about bonfires, snake dances and napkin floats.
Like everything around them, however, things have changed in Urbandale. Back then it was the Urbandale Blue Jays instead of J-Hawks. The colors have changed, too. During their time, 70th and Douglas was considered “uptown,” and Des Moines was “downtown.” Near the old school, on what is now recognized as Aurora Avenue, was, of all things, a cow path.
The old coach
Retired Urbandale football coach Denny Frerichs mentions one name when asked which of his old players is still around and in touch with old battle buddies — Brent Miesenheimer.
When Miesenheimer was growing up, the coach whose name would later be revered enough that the current football field at Urbandale would later be named after him, was just the guy next door.
Miesenheimer grew up in Urbandale along with his football teammates, right next to their future coach, without even realizing it at the time.
“I always just knew him as a great person. Never thought of him as coach until I reached high school,” Miesenheimer says.
He meets often with teammates from that 1988 football team, and the squad remains friends to this day. The team still organizes annual golf outings, and those still in Urbandale have been regular attendees.
Frerichs remains a lasting memory for Miesenheimer and teammate Kent Darghols. Frerichs witnessed a lot of “kids being kids” activity growing up next to Miesenheimer’s family. It wasn’t until they reached pre-adulthood that the two learned to appreciate their coach’s manner and his emphasis on sportsmanship.
“Poor sportsmanship made him go off. If you didn’t set your helmet down gently enough — uh oh,” Miesenheimer says.
Miesenheimer is an old offensive lineman who gathers the team for Monday Night Football and cards. In stereotypical glory days manner, a few of the Urbandale football team members discuss games that slipped by, the wins, the losses and great teams they played.
“Dowling beat us in the playoffs, and we should have beat Ankeny,” Miesenheimer says recalling it like it was yesterday.
The old players speak of their coach’s patience and ability to communicate calmly with impatient, young teenagers.
“It was always an interesting process how coach digested things. You were never sure if he’d blow his stack or remain calm,” says Brent. “Never heard coach swear, but he still got his point across.”
Days gone by. Great times in the great community of Urbandale.