Tom Nabbe ’61- Disney’s Original Tom Sawyer


Photo from an article in the Saturday Evening Post, June 28, 1958 issue.

Life’s been one big adventure for Anaheim High’s Class of ’61 graduate Tom Nabbe. The fun really started when his family moved to Anaheim just down the road from where Disneyland was being built. 

A 12-year-old red-headed, freckle-faced boy, Nabbe was selling newspapers at Disneyland when he heard that Walt needed someone to play the role of Tom Sawyer. Tom pestered Walt until he got the job. Nearly fifty years later,  Tom retired as a Disney Legend.

The story of his amazing career, which began as a fantasy and ended as the embodiment of the American dream,  is now available in his book:  “From Disneyland’s Tom Sawyer to Disney Legend: The Adventures of Tom Nabbe.” 
The book is available via his website or via in paperback or Kindle Edition.




Grad Remembers Time as 1960’s Peace Corps Volunteer

AHS Class of 1962 graduate David Macaray is a playwright and author who recently published a new novel about his time spent as a Peace Corps volunteer in India in 1967-68

Titled “How to Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows: Adventures in India: Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims When the Peace Corps was New,” the memoir describes his youthful time in India with disarming honesty. [Read more…]

Anaheim’s Sheila Taylor Lowe (’67) Featured Author for Library Fundraiser

Anaheim High’s Sheila Taylor Lowe (’67) will be one of three award-winning writers featured at the Sunday, March 19, Anaheim Public Library Foundation Mystery Authors Luncheon and Silent Auction.

The Whodunnit?-themed event will be held at the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort. A silent auction begins at 11 a.m., followed by the lunch and author program at 12:30. Tickets are $60 per person or $550 per table of 10. Reservations, due March 10, may be made by contacting

Like her fictional character Claudia Rose in her award-winning forensic handwriting mysteries series, Sheila Lowe is a real-life forensic handwriting expert, as well as the author of the acclaimed The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and Handwriting Analyzer software.

Her six-book mystery series are inspired by actual cases she’s become involved in as a handwriting expert. The series titles include: Poison Pen, Written in Blood, Dead Write, Last Writes, Inkslingers Ball, and Outside the Lines. 

She’s also published What She Saw, is a standalone novel of psychological suspense that follows a young woman through the terrifying labyrinth of amnesia.

Lowe holds a Master of Science in psychology and lectures around the country and in Canada and the UK. Her analyses of celebrity handwritings are seen throughout the media. In addition, she is president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes education in the area of handwriting. To learn more about her work, visit:


Artwork Donated by Artist, Collector Larry Macaray – Class of 1938

Lawrence “Larry” Macaray (’38) – artist, teacher, art collector and author –  has contributed several pieces of art from his vast collection of work he amassed as proprietor of Anaheim’s first art gallery and as a world traveler.

Larry represented Californian, as well as national and international artists. An arts professor at El Camino College, his career also included serving as the Torrance Press-Herald Arts and Travel Editor. His award-winning art has been displayed at galleries and museums in California and throughout the nation.

The professionally framed pieces available for auction (shown below) include limited edition wood block prints by Yosida Hiroshi, regarded as one of the greatest artists of the shin-hanga style. Two of his pieces are available: “Tsurugaoka Hachima Shrine” and “Hirosaki Castle” from the “Scenes of Sacred Places and Historic Landmarks” series.

Another highly collectible piece is a Salvidor Dali plate signed etching of Cervantes valued at $500.

All three pieces are avaiable for bid (starting at $100) by contacting

Class of 1960 Stan Vosburg – Engineer & Award-Winning Aviation Artist

Anaheim High’s Class of 1960 graduate Stanley Vosburg is an artist with a unique and warmhearted approach to aviation art.

His limited edition print series, “Home Front Aviation,” embodies a nostalgic look at America’s love affair with military aviation during the 1940s.

Stan’s realistic narrative style and impeccable historical fidelity, make his period paintings a window into one of aviation’s most exciting eras.

A native Californian, Stan spent much of his youth in Southern California which, in the mid-1950s, was a national focal point of aviation with numerous aircraft manufacturers and military airfields.

A stress engineer in the aerospace defense industry for 30 years, Stan originally turned to painting as a means to relieve stress and serve as a diversion. Stan’s early successes convinced him to take his painting more seriously.

After discovering the American Society of Aviation Artists, Stan merged his love of aviation with his desire to paint. Encouraged by other aviation artists, he has started to develop his own approach to aviation art, one that combines history, aviation and the human interface that makes aviation so important to all of us. With images quite different from the main stream aviation art, Stan has found a unique niche that satisfies both artist and collector.

Stan began producing and marketing limited edition prints of his works in 1995. One of these works, “Impressing the Night Shift,” was recreated in “living art” during the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters’ 1999 millennium season. In 2008, Stan’s latest painting, “Lightning Lady,” won the ASAA award for Women’s Contribution to Aviation and third place in Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine’s annual art contest.

Stan has donated two of his framed prints to the AHSAA to auction as the 2017 Golf Classic, Dinner & Auction. Thank you, Stan, for your support of “Old AU.”

See more of his work at

Anaheim Grad’s Reconnection to Culture Inspires A Celebration of Life – “Viva Los Muertos!”

“Embracing death gives more meaning to life. Embracing life gives more meaning to death.”wp_000749

Peter Perez has taken on new lives and lifestyles throughout his existence. His first life was that of an immigrant’s son who used his artistic talents to buy a one-way ticket to New York after graduating from one of the country’s best art schools.

From fledgling artist growing up in an Anaheim barrio, to Madison Avenue superstar, Perez has now metamorphosed back to his cultural heritage to become a renown Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) creator and curator.

“The Day of the Dead celebration awakened deep personal roots that had been lost and forgotten,” said Perez. “Spanish, my first language, and a connection to my native culture, had been erased at an early age.”

Peter Perez '57 was on campus for a recent celebration of the historic Anaheim vs. Downy CIF Championship game. He was on the LA Coliseum field as a yell leader.

Peter Perez ’57 was on campus for a recent celebration of the historic Anaheim vs. Downy CIF Championship game. He was on the LA Colliseum field as a yell leader.

Perez recently related his story to students at Anaheim High School, his alma mater. He told them about being renamed Peter from Pedro and being forbidden to speak Spanish. His story is especially relevant to Anaheim High’s performing arts students who see Perez, a Class of ’57 graduate, as someone from their own background who became a successful artist despite the odds.

“Be the best at what you do and success will come naturally,” he told the classroom of students who are staging a Nov. 5 Dia de los Muertos festival to raise funds for future productions.

Along with showing slides of his artwork (he is donating several pieces to the event’s silent auction), Perez shared the history of Dia del los Muertos and how he has used his art to make political statements, as well as a way to express loss in his own life.

peter-perez-art-workThe introduction of a City of Anaheim Day of the Dead celebration was, in fact, sparked by the death of his nephew, an Anaheim resident who died in a motorcycle accident in 2009. Initially not embraced by city officials, Perez persisted and, with the help of the Anaheim Heritage Council, Arts Council, Downtown Association and several volunteers, a new tradition was started that has evolved into celebrations being staged throughout Orange County.

For Perez, the opportunity to paint and explore the life of the dead has resulted in solo shows, group exhibits, and serving as a curator for fiestas, art and altar exhibitions for the largest Dia de los Muertos celebrations in the nation. He has also introduced the celebration to India and Australia. Most recent is his Dia de los Muertos installation at the Sonoma County Art Museum.peter-perez-day-of-the-dead-3

“The ancient cultures believed that you died three times, once when your body ceases to function, a second time when your spirit leaves your body, and the final most tragic death, when you’re forgotten,” said Perez. “Through my art and my involvement with Dia de los Muertos, my nephew and others I’ve embodied in ofrendas (altars) throughout the world will not be forgotten. Viva Los Muertos!”

What is Dia de los Muertos?

El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) has been celebrated for nearly 3000 years in Mexico, Central and South America. This observance honors those who have passed before us and keeps their memories alive. It is celebrated Nov. 1st and 2nd, All Souls and All Saints Days. It has evolved into a cross-cultural event, with traditional roots, that invites all to participate. Altars (ofrendas) are created and decorated with photos, food, drink, marigolds and the favorite things of the person being honored. For a more complete history, click here.

Sid Sowder Freudenstein – Class of 1963

Sowder_Sid002It was a long walk f0r a boy from Anaheim, who used to dive off the garage rafters on to an old couch, to carrying the flag in the ’68 Olympics as co-captain of the Men’s Gymnastics Team in Mexico City.

But Class of 1963’s Sid Sowder Freudenstein’s transition to a world champion, from that 6th grader whose grandfather found him alone doing dangerous diving stunts, started when he was enrolled him in Sammy Lee’s swim & dive club.

It was in junior high where he discovered some bars and rings outside in a sandpit and he taught himself kips and giant swings (with straps). “I didn’t know the names of the skills then; I just saw other kids doing them,” he wrote in his autobiography.

Sowder_Sid001Freudenstein started formal gymnastics as a sophomore in 1960 under Ron Amster at Anaheim High. He credits his coach as being responsible for his initial success. He won many competitions, mostly on tumbling, floor and vault. In his senior year, he was the High Point Man (closest to All-Around) at the Southern California State Championships.

He wasn’t able to attend his first choice, UC Berkeley (Cal), because his grades weren’t quite good enough. He was awarded a scholarship to USC and was excited to attend there since many of his friends were also at USC. Unfortunately, when went to matriculate, he was told his scholarship went to someone else.

He was devastated, but kept up his studies at Santa Ana Junior College and continued to train at Anaheim High. He finally made it to Cal in 1964 and graduated in 1968 with a degree in physics. As a UC Berkeley student, Freudenstein won many invitationals, PAC 8, regional titles, and national and international awards.

In the summer of 1966, he was chosen to attend an Olympic training camp at Penn State, and most importantly, as a U.S. Gymnastics Federation alternate to the World Championships in Dortmund Germany.

In the summer of 1967, he was chosen to compete in the World University Games in Tokyo. He placed second in floor exercise against some of the best in the world.

freud1In his senior year in 1968, at the NCAA Championships he tied for first on floor exercise, and his team won the title in a thrilling ending.

He was on the way to the Olympics after placing 19th out of 20 selected in first trials. While he did well in the 1968 games, he was sick for several training days and the compulsory floor finals were held first thing in the morning when scoring was generally low.

Freudenstein continued to stay involved in his sport, even after returning to school at the University of Colorado (CU), earning a Ph.D. in physics in 1976-77. He occasionally judged high school gymnastics meets, announced CU’s home meets, and took the job of head gymnastics couch a year before he started to teach physics at Metropolitan State College of Denver in the spring of 1977.

He taught and coached until CU dropped seven sports, including gymnastics in 1980. During his coaching tenure at CU, he brought the team from shambles to a top-10 preseason ranking.

In 1980 and 1982, he was chosen by the State of Colorado to be the exchange coach of a sister-state program in Brazil. In 1982, he started and directed a not-for-profit private club called Colorado Academy of Artistic Gymnastics (CAAG). It grew to its maximum of 417 students right after the ’84 Olympics.

Freudenstein has published and given talks on the biomechanics of gymnastics and authored a teaching manual for major textbook in physics. He has also published several papers in plasma physics and teacher education. He has chaired Denver’s Metropolitan State University Physics Department since 1995. In 2005, he was inducted into the University of California Athletic Hall of Fame.

For a more complete look at his Olympic career, visit:

Happy 102 birthday to Elmer Thill – AHS Class of 1932


Happy 102nd birthday to AUHS Class of 1932 graduate Elmer Thill! He celebrated his 102nd on April 19, 2016.

Thill is truly a treasured “Vintage Colonist.” Still true to his school, he has attended several AHSAA mixers, Alumni Breakfasts and has marched with his alma mater in the annual City of Anaheim Halloween Parade. In fact, Elmer hasn’t missed a Halloween Parade since 1924, and remembers watching the procession from a second story window of his parents’ Central Hotel. He also marched in the parade playing the clarinet with the Anaheim Union High School Band.

His wife, Genevieve, recently celebrated her 100th birthday. The couple has been married for 77 years, and still live in the house they built more than 60 years ago on Citron Street, just a short distance from Anaheim High.

The AHS Alumni Associations wishes them many happy birthday wishes!


Baseball, Classic Cars More Than Just Pastimes for AUHS Class of ’56 Grad

1956-Del Drake 002Like many men from his era, 78-year-old Del Drake loves cars and sports, especially Fords and baseball. Of course, the vehicles he was driving while attending Anaheim High are now considered classics, and baseball has evolved from a game played with informal rules using improvised equipment to a big money sport that’s become America’s beloved pastime.

But classic cars and baseball are more than just hobbies for Drake, who has been recognized by the governor of Idaho for starting the first senior softball program in the state. And growing up with a father who was a mechanic known for coaxing the maximum speed from his vehicles, Drake’s life-long passion for cars just came naturally, as did his talent for playing ball.WP_003110

Trying to impress a girlfriend who he described as a “baseball nut,” Drake joined the Anaheim High team and played centerfield for Coach Wallin. He earned his girlfriend’s heart when his 1956 team won the CIF Sunset League Championship, the first time Anaheim High’s baseball team had achieved this honor since 1940. Drake still wears his Sunset League championship jacket and keeps a bookcase and trunk made in an AHS woodshop class in the loft of a barn on his 10-acre farm in Star, Idaho.

After leaving Anaheim High, Drake attended Orange Coast College, where he played football and baseball when he wasn’t taking HV/AC classes or heading to the beach for a game of volleyball. Once he graduated from OCC, Drake enlisted in the Navy and played baseball two years for the Armed Forces. When he got back home, he played in a Huntington Beach league.

WP_003107He already had a full-time job when Angel Stadium opened on April 19, 1966, but he didn’t consider his second job as an usher as real work since it put him closer to the game. Drake was there for opening day and continued working at the stadium for the next two and a half years.

Life went on and by age 40 Drake was still playing ball, this time fast pitch softball with such teammates as Irv Knowles from AUHS Class of ’58 who became an Anaheim City Councilman. It wasn’t until he moved to Idaho that finding a game became a challenge. His best friend since 6th grade, Al Tikker from Class of 1957, already an Idaho resident, urged Drake to join him, promising it was just like Anaheim in the 1950s, except spuds were the top crop instead of oranges.

On his second day of residency, Drake found the Boise Park and Recreation Department and asked about a senior softball league. When he was told there was no such program, Drake decided to help form a league.

Through advertising in newspaper and radio, he recruited 13 players, 9 of whom were California transplants. They played in a tournament that was covered by the “Idaho Statesman,” generating so many phone calls that Drake now runs a league of 18 teams with 150 players. He is now Idaho’s senior baseball league state representative, and the City of Meridian has proclaimed September 26th as Idaho Senior Softball Day.

He gets a lot of help managing the league from his wife Joyce Volpone, who attended Savannah High School in Anaheim. It’s a second marriage for both of them. Combined they have six children and eight grandchildren, including a grand-daughter who is a nationally ranked softball player. As a freshman on the varsity team, she hit a grand slam to win her high school championship game.

Only when baseball season is over is there time for his other passion: restoring his collection of classic cars and trucks.

His dad’s 1915 Model T has a preferred parking spot in Drake’s barn. The Model T is one of several vehicles his father owned. One of Drake’s first memories was standing at the steering wheel of his dad’s 1930s roadster. There’s also a photo of him sitting on his father’s only Harley Davidson, which appears in a book titled “The Indian Harley Davidson Wars” by Alan Girdler. His dad preferred Indians and he owned up to a dozen of the bikes throughout his life.WP_003103

His collection also includes a 1940’s Ford coupe and Woody, a 1951 red Ford pick-up and a 1969 4-speed Mach I Mustang he purchased in 1979 for $150. His coupe is bedecked with a Clem Colonist logo that reflects Drake’s sentiment that: “Once a Colonist, Always a Colonist.”

Due to the distance, Drake’s cars won’t be on display at the Oct. 15 Colony Classic Car Show, but he will be attending his 60th reunion on Oct. 1, to share his cherished memories of growing up in Orange County in the 1950s.  “I grew up in the right place at the right time,” said Drake.

WWII Alumni “Teacher of the Day” at Anaheim High

Robert Fischle as soilder

Robert Fischle – Class of 1941

When AHS alumni history teacher Alex Lamb from Class of 1967 learned there was an Anaheim graduate who served in WWII living just blocks from the school,  he immediately contacted the AHSAA to arrange a speaking date for his students who were studying the Battle of the Bulge.

Robert Fischle from AUHS Class of 1941 accepted the invitation to share his memories of fighting in the 40-day battle in the freezing cold. Gathered before two classes of AHS history students, the 92-year-old veteran and life-long Anaheim resident told students that  the best part of the war was making it home alive and the worst part was the weather, recalling the horror of driving over frozen corpses as a gunner in an Army M-15 Half-Track, a large truck-type vehicle with front wheels and rear tracks.

The Half Track was equipped with two 50-caliber machine guns firing 500 rounds per minute and a 37-milimeter canon that fired 120 rounds per minute. Fischle job was to sit in the truck’s “bucket” and operate the machine guns. In his Small Town Kid to Big Time War memoir, Fischle recounts how his elite 390th Special Battalion Unit of 675 soldiers crossed the European continent for 281 days of combat in the Third Army commanded by General George Patton.

On July 7, 1944, the 390th Battalion landed on Utah Beach with the mission to protect the Third Army’s supply dumps. As they began their advance across Europe, the main objective was to shut down enemy aircraft to prevent destruction of bridges. Keeping these structures intact was of vital importance to the success of U.S. Army operations.half track

“We advanced day and night, over mountains, through dense forests, across broad rivers, pressing ever onward in pursuit of victory,” Robert wrote in his memoir. His biggest worry, he told the history students, was dodging strafe coming from low-flying enemy aircraft that would appear suddenly from the clouds. Fischel recalled several near misses when the bullets whizzed around him but never made contact.

His unit’s ultimate destination was Belgium’s densely forested Ardennes region on the edge of the Western Front. As the students are learning, it was the largest and bloodiest battle Americans fought in World War II, leaving 90,000 Americans wounded and 19,000 dead. The 390th made history during the Battle of the Bulge, shooting down 13 German planes in 17 minutes. The unit received commendations from U.S. Army Generals Patton, Eisenhower, Marshall, Bradley and more.

The Class of ’41 vet also talked about his days growing up in Anaheim. With a father who owned a confectionary shop in downtown Anaheim, Fischle was literally the kid who grew up in a candy store. His family home was located at 326 S. Melrose St., aRnd he attended Broadway Elementary School, Fremont Junior High, then Anaheim, entering as a freshman in 1936 just as the new school buildings opened after being reconstructed after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. He played football, basketball and track all four years.

Fischle’s extracurricular activities leaned toward fast cars. In school he was called Bob or his nickname “Fish” and his best buddy was Bob Spielman. The duo rode in a Willy’s roadster any time they could scrounge up some gas money. When their tank was full of 10.9-cents- a-gallon-gas, the duo headed for Huntington Beach and other favorite spots.

He left Anaheim as a 19 boy and returned home four years older, a battle-scarred man. “It took me a while to get my feelings back,” he answered when asked how he dealt with coming home with memories of the death and destruction he witnessed during the war. “When I sit on my patio and see big white clouds, I always remember the enemy aircraft coming at us. It was kill or be killed.”