A History of Clayes Stadium – 1927-2017

Anaheim High’s Clayes Stadium served as more than just a place to sit and watch Colonist football, soccer games, track meets, graduations, band performances and other events.

Under the steps of the 1000-seat concrete grandstand built in November 1927 for $13,000, were dressing and storage rooms, lockers, a heating plant for showers and offices for the coaches. More recent additions included a batting cage.

Named after Anaheim’s longest serving principal, Joseph A. Clayes, the stadium evolved into an iconic structure. Along with a training facility below and above (generations of Anaheim athletics ran the stadium steps) and a place from which Colonist fans cheered on their teams, the grandstand also served as a vehicle for expressing class pride.

At some point during the stadium’s 90-year history, the tradition of painting the stadium surfaced. An upper classman privilege, painting the stadium became so much a part of becoming a senior that it was looked upon as a small infraction (provided of course that it is done in good taste) to NOT paint your class numbers in blue and gold on the stadium steps. Being a part of the paint crew for these secret evening sessions is a favorite memory of many Anaheim grads.

Construction of the stadium in 1927 on the west side of school’s newly laid out athletic field rounded out what the local newspaper called “the most completely equipped athletic plant,” and the stadium “one of the few of its kind in use on a Southern California school campus.”

Principal Clayes began his tenure at Anaheim High as a teacher of art and commerce in 1914. He became Anaheim High’s principal in the fall of 1919 and remained in that position for 22 years until his death on July 1, 1941. He son and grandsons became some of Anaheim’s most accomplished leaders and athletes.

During his 22-year tenure, Principal Clayes oversaw the complete reconstruction of the school after being destroyed by the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. Along with the main building, auditorium, gymnasium, athletic fields and stadium, a new swimming pool was constructed in the 1920s and later replaced in the 1940s.

The stadium was condemned in recent years and the pool was emptied more than 10 years ago, both due to structural damage. With community support, including that of Anaheim alumni, the District is undertaking a major renovation of the school’s athletic facilities, including the construction of a new aquatics center and improvements to the gymnasium and fields.

Construction plans require the demolition of Clayes stadium, the oldest existing structure on the campus. Ground breaking for the new center will take place March 1, 2018, with construction expected to be complete by March 21, 2019.

If you would like to serve on a planning committee for the grand opening and an effort to raise funds for the athletic fields upgrade, or if you would like to make a tax-deductible donation toward the project, please contact the AHSAA at anaheimalumni@yahoo.com.

Click this link to view a gallery of photos and articles about historic Clayes Stadium.

Remains of Colonist WWII Hero Recovered

John H. Liekhus – June 17, 1915 – Nov. 2, 1944

It’s taken 73 years for Anaheim’s Class of 1934 Colonist John Liekhus to return home. His remains were recently recovered from farmland in Germany where the B-17 he piloted crashed on Nov. 2, 1944, according to a press release from Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

He and his crew members will be buried next year with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

First Lt. John Liekhus was a flyer with the 323rd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force.

Liekhus and his crew were on a bombing mission to Merseburg, Germany, when their plane was hit by flak. As the B-17 fell out of formation, German fighters attacked. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft burst into flames and descend rapidly. It crashed two kilometers (just over one mile) southwest of the town of Barby, according to the DPAA .

Facts that have emerged from the investigation include this story of the crash showing the immense courage of Liekhus and his crew:

When he realized his plane was going down, Liekhus ordered his nine-member crew to bail. Co-pilot Robert Wisor, who was captured after bailing out of the doomed plane, gave the following testimony in an Army “Casualty Questionnaire” dated Feb. 27, 1946, obtained from the Library of Congress:

“Second Lt. Robert Sambo (bombardier) bailed out of the plexiglass nose (which was shot out) before the plane went into a tail spin.” (Sambo survived the war as a POW.) “Staff Sgt. B. Lombardi (tail gunner) jumped out of the tail escape hatch at approximately the same time as the bombodier.” (Lombardi also became a POW.)

A crew member who died in the crash tried to save the flight navigator by pushing him through the nose of the stricken bomber.  The navigator died before hitting the ground and his body was recovered a few months later.  The five other crew members, including Liekhus, were declared missing in action.

In January 1951, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) concluded that the five unaccounted-for crew members perished in the crash and the location of their remains was unknown.

That conclusion changed, however, after Liekhus’ great nephew, Michael Cushing, a retired Anaheim physician, began researching the crash, contacting survivors and encouraging the US Government to re-open the investigation. With the help of the German government, the DPAA was able to recover trace remains of Liekhus and his crew members. They will be buried next year with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

First Lieutenant Liekhus was 29 years old when he was piloting the B-17G flying fortress nicknamed “Bomber Dear” on a strategic mission to bomb Merseburg oil refineries. Ultimately, the denial of refined petroleum products would be instrumental in ending Hitler’s pursuit of world domination.

A ring of 400 anti-aircraft guns, twice the number protecting Berlin, had been brought into the Merseburg refinery corridor in a desperate attempt to protect Germany’s dwindling petroleum supply. The guns took their toll in men and machines.

Anaheim High Class of 1939 Bruce Alexander met the same demise as Liekhus. A second lieutenant, Alexander was also attached to the 8th Air Force. He died a month after Liekhus on Dec. 6, 1944, after being shot down during a Merseburg raid.

Liekhus’ brother Leonard, also a decorated WWII bomber pilot, was the last to see John alive. Another brother, Gene “Eugene,” served in WWII as well. They were the sons of Joseph B. and Gertrude E. Liekhus, who brought their family to Anaheim in the early ‘30s after losing their farm in Cedar Rapids, Neb., during the Great Depression.

When the Liekhus family arrived in Anaheim the population was close to 10,000 and the student population at Anaheim High was approximately 900, including freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors. By the time the war broke out in the 1940s, Anaheim’s population increased only 3 percent.

Anaheim High lost 35 known graduates in WWII. Other students were removed from the student body after their families were deported to Japanese relocation camps.

Fortunately for the Liekhus family, their other two sons both returned home, and another son survived the Korean War. Gene, who resides in Washington state, is John’s only living brother. His only living sister is Trudy “Gertrude” Reynolds, age 91, who lives in Redondo Beach. Other siblings included sisters Henrietta, Irene, Helen, and Jeanette “Jean.”

The Liekhus home at 617 S. Helena Street was not the only home with a Gold Star service flag in the front window, indicating that their son had given the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

Families of other Anaheim boys were also were reported missing in action and their bodies never recovered. Bomber pilot Mark Anderson (Class of 1934), paratrooper Ben G. Foland (Class of 1935),  infantryman Rex Middleton Woodward (Class of 1930), and infantryman Jack Skinner (Class of 1930) are other Colonists listed on the Henri-Chapelle Tablets of the Missing at the American Cemetery in Belgium. Some 73 years later, a rosette will be placed on the tablet next to Liekhus’ name to indicate his remains have been found.

Anaheim High is making sure the service and lives of these fallen Colonists and Anaheim sons and daughters are remembered.

On Nov. 7, 2013, the Anaheim High football program honored Colonist veterans during an “Honor Game.” During the half-time tribute, families of the fallen were presented with specially designed jerseys worn by the players.

AHS varsity player Juan Bocardo wore jersey #60 imprinted with Liekhus’ name. Liekhus also played football for Anaheim High, as well as basketball and served on the Deportment Committee. After graduating from Anaheim, John went on to work for Douglas Aircraft Co. in Long Beach. When the United States entered WWII, John was considered an “essential war worker” but talked his boss in letting him enlist in the Army.

The bravery of Liekhus and his Colonist classmates will never be forgotten.


Anaheim Celebrates 50th Anniversary of 1967 CIF Championship

Football players, past and present, along with fans, friends and family, gathered on Friday, Oct. 6th, to celebrate the 50th anniverary of  Anaheim High’s  1967 CIF Championship and the 99th year of Anaheim High football.
After a tribute dinner in the Anaheim High Cafeteria, those gathered continued on to Glover Stadium for the varsity game against Katella. Team members from the 1967 Championship Team were presented with commemorative caps and tshirts and applauded during a half-time ceremony.
 Click here to see photos of the event and continue scrolling to read an article about the 1967 season, along with photos and newspaper articles that recorded this championship year.
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     Throughout its nearly 100 years of proud football history, Anaheim has won many games with many great players and many great coaches. But perhaps no Colonists team had a greater journey than the 1967 squad, which won an unprecedented CIF championship.
     The 12-1 campaign, capped off by a memorable triumph over Santa Ana at Anaheim Stadium, forever certified the Colonists under legendary head coach Clare Van Hoorebeke as the finest program of its era in the midst of its finest hour.
     The beloved “Van,” already Orange County’s all-time winningest head football coach by that time, was in his 18th season at Anaheim, winning or sharing 13 Sunset League crowns. The 1956 team with Mickey Flynn had earned a co-championship, but the Colonists had come up just short twice more in 1962 finals against Loyola, and in a crushing 35-14 loss against El Rancho in the 1966 championship game.
     Though ready to hit the field with an amazing array of talented players, the Colonists entered the 1967 season with much uncertainty. Rising star quarterback Chappy Looney, who had been expected to assume a starring role in the Anaheim offense, died unexpectedly the previous spring. Additionally, many doubted that ferocious senior fullback/linebacker Tom Fitzpatrick could recover from a torn ACL injury suffered during the 1966 playoffs.
     But Van and his esteemed coaching staff, led by veteran assistant Brant Cowser and highly motivated young coordinators Bill Miller on offense and Bob Salerno on defense. Wayne Atkins, John Balaam, and Marty Hicks rounded out the staff that had Anaheim ready to compete, and the Colonists opened up with shutout wins over Chaffey and Redlands in non-league play.
     However, Anaheim looked sluggish in a 9-7 win over Marina in its Sunset League opener. Then, the bottom fell out as the Colonists were humiliated in a 28-0 wipeout at the hands of Santa Ana, the worst loss of Van Hoorebeke’s coaching career.
     Seeking a spark on offense, Van Hoorebeke and Miller elevated sophomore George Fraser to the starting quarterback position, while Tom Fitzpatrick was cleared to play full time once again. The results were immediate, as Anaheim dominated its next five opponents by a combined score of 130 to 33. Though Santa Ana claimed the Sunset League title, Anaheim’s 8-1 record was good enough for an at-large berth in the 4-A playoffs.
     In the first round, Fraser ran for two touchdowns, while cornerback Dave Maas had a team-record four interceptions and end Kym Salness added two more picks to lift Anaheim past Long Beach Wilson 35-13. Rematching in the quarterfinal round against El Rancho, the Colonists dethroned the defending CIF 4-A Division champions in a solid 28-14 win. Halfback Walt Smith ran 20 times for 137 yards as Anaheim totaled nearly 400 yards in total offense against El Rancho’s formidable defense. Fitzpatrick, Fraser, and Maas all scored TDs to push Anaheim into the semifinals.
     At the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Anaheim faced off against undefeated Santa Barbara. The Channel League champion Dons appeared invincible, having scored nearly 500 points on offense with explosive quarterback Grady Hurst and punishing tailback Sam “Bam” Cunningham, while Santa Barbara’s defense boasted the “Four Teen Tons” led by Bob “Big Man” Pointer, who was arguably the biggest prep football player in history, tipping the scales at 447 points.
     The Colonists showed no fear, as Fraser threw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns. Fitzpatrick caught one TD pass and ran for two more scores as Anaheim carved up the enormous but slow-footed Dons defense for a 42-7 win.
     The Semifinal victory set up a rematch with Santa Ana at the Big A, where 26,383 fans filled the stadium for the 4-A title showdown. Following a scoreless first quarter, Anaheim’s running game went to work as halfback Eric Janes, Smith, and Fraser ran behind the blocking of Fitzpatrick, who then finished two scoring drives with touchdown runs in the second quarter and a 14-0 lead. Janes, who was the star of the game with 136 yards on 15 carries, added his own touchdown on a 33-yard scoring run in the third quarter. The Saints and vaunted flanker Isaac Curtis were held to a single score, while Fraser put the finishing touch with a touchdown pass to Rod Schorr in the final minutes of the 27-6 victory.

Fitzpatrick was named the CIF 4-A Division Player of the Year, while Fraser became the first and only sophomore player ever named to the All-CIF 4-A Division team, while linemen Wayne Bugbee and Larry Golden also earned All-CIF honors.

    Following the game, the jubilant Colonists gathered on the field and celebrated as CIF commissioner Bill Russell handed the championship trophy over to coach Van Hoorebeke, who took pride in his typical, understated way. “We didn’t necessarily have the greatest talent in the world this year, but there was no one with more desire. Yes, sir, they’re champions.”
Head Coach – Clare Van Hoorebeke
Offensive Coordinator – Bill Miller
Defensive Coordinator – Bob Salerno
Assistant Staff – Wayne Atkins, John Balaam, Brant Cowser, Marty Hicks
Won 12, Lost 1
(6-1) 2nd Place Sunset League
CIF 4-A Division Champions
24    Chaffey         0    W
21    Redlands         0    W
9    Marina*         7    W
0    Santa Ana*        28    L
24    Huntington Beach*     0    W
39    Newport Harbor*     7    W
34    Santa Ana Valley*    13    W
6    Westminster*         0    W
27    Western*        13    W
35    LONG BEACH WILSON    13    W
28    EL RANCHO        14    W
42    SANTA BARBARA     7    W
27    SANTA ANA         6    W
Tom Fitzpatrick, Back – Player of the Year
George Fraser, Back
Wayne Bugbee, Guard
Larry Golden, Guard
Wayne Bugbee OG – 1
Tom Fitzpatrick RB – 1
George Fraser QB – HM
Larry Golden DG – 1
Jim Johnson LB – 1
Marc Kemp DT – HM
Dave Maas DB – 1
Pat Mahoney C – HM
Richard Perez DE – 1
Rod Schorr DT – 1
Walt Smith RB – 2

Saldivar is Anaheim’s First Alumnus Principal

2017 – Robert Saldivar – Class of 1996

Robert Saldivar, a Class of ’96 graduate, who previously served as an AHS teacher and assistant principal, has left his principal post at Orange View Junior High to become Anaheim High’s newest principal and the first alumnus to serve in that position.

Saldivar began his teaching career at Anaheim in 2001, after earning his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a minor in health from Cal State Fullerton. He later earned his master’s in education from Azusa Pacific University.

At Anaheim High he taught AVID, health science and coached baseball, football, and basketball. He began his administrative career as an assistant principal at Ball Junior High, then returned to Anaheim as an AP before becoming the principal of Orangeview Junior High, also an AUHSD school.

Saldivar with his family of junior Colonists

Saldivar, whose wife Liliana Hernandez is also an AHS graduate from Class of 1999, said he is grateful for the opportunity to lead his alma mater. “The saying really does ring true in my case: ‘Once a Colonist, always a Colonist.’ ”

A History of Anaheim High


Pride of the Colony – Built on Tradition

Anaheim High School, first established in 1898,  is the oldest of nine comprehensive high schools in the Anaheim Union HighSchool District. It is the third oldest high school in Orange County, behind Santa Ana (1889) and Fullerton Union High School (1893). School District. It is the third oldest high school in Orange County, behind Santa Ana (1889) and Fullerton Union High School (1893).

Following is a timeline of the formation of Anaheim High, from its humble beginnings in an crude adobe structure to its current state, a 3,000-member student body housed in an impressive art deco building dubbed “Crown of the Colony.”

The architecture and location provide an interesting footnote in the school’s evolution, but these elements do not overshadow the importance of role played by outstanding Anaheim citizens who made up the school’s administration, faculty and student body.


1859 – Soon after the first German colonists arrive, they petition the Los Angeles County superintendent of schools to establish a school in Anaheim, their new home by the Santa Ana River.

1860 – Anaheim’s first school opens in an adobe building located on a lot owned by August Langenberger, a prominent merchant and colony leader. The first teacher is Fred William Kuelp. His initial nine students are: Carola, Regina and Fred Langenberger; Elmina and Louise Lorenz; Pifanio and Antonio Burruel; and Tomas and Felipe Yorba.

1862 – One hundred dollars, paid in pure gold, purchases one of Anaheim’s original city lots for a new adobe school house. The new building is destroyed shortly thereafter by flood. Classes are moved to the second story of the Langenberger building and moved again later back to the adobe where classes were first held. This building is also occupied by the Anaheim Water Co. and a third room of this building served as the town jail. The school master was also the town’s notary public and justice of the peace.

1867 – Anaheim School District is formed.

1869 –  Anaheim’s first teacher Fred William Kuelp resigns due to ill health. He is replaced by Carl Van Gulpen, who is replaced shortly thereafter by James Miller Guinn, a Civil War Veteran.


1870 –  The first monthly report of Anaheim students lists an enrollment of 91 students, divided into two departments (Primary and Grammar) and taught by two teachers. The town’s population at this time is estimated at 1,000.

1871 –  The first school exhibit is staged with a program of declamations, dialogues, farces, tableaux and music. By charging a fee for this first open house, Guinn is able to purchase charts and an outline map for the school. Guinn also establishes the first final examination dates, which included an oral exam that was open to the public.

1874 –  Guinn, a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, serves as teacher and principal, offering subjects for high school diploma and classifies students into grades. His 20 pupils attend school in an adobe building with one window, empty boxes and benches for seats and crudely constructed tables for desks.


1877 –  A plot of land is purchased for a new school building at the cost of $1,500.

1878 – Guinn writes and champions a bond to construct a new school building, raising $10,000. When the bill is passed by the legislature on March 12, 1878, it marks the first time ever in California that a school district uses a bond issue to finance new school facilities.

1879 – The new two-story Central School, called the “handsomest school building in the country outside of Los Angeles,” opens on January 16. The school, which features as clock steeple and bell tower, is built in the center of a two-acre lot at 231 Chartres Street. The 217 elementary through high school students are taught by two men and two women who are paid $75 a month.

1880 –  Matilda Rimpau, daughter of Anaheim pioneer Theodore Rimpau, is the first student in the Anaheim school system to graduate with a high school diploma.

1881 – Guinn resigns his position as teacher and principal to become Los Angeles Superintendent of Schools. From the time of his resignation through 1898, there are no high school classes taught in Anaheim.

1898 – High school classes officially begin on the second floor of Central School after C.P. Evans, principal of Loara Elementary School, convinces the school board that classes should extend past the ninth year. Evans becomes principal and, assisted by Miss Helen French, teach a student body of 39 student, 17 boys and 22 girls in grades nine through twelve.

1900 – Football begins with the first recorded game played against Fullerton at Anaheim on Nov. 6. Anaheim wins 2-0.

1901 – When Central School becomes overcrowded, citizens fund a $12,500 bond measure to buy land, build a separate high school building and equip it. Anaheim’s first high school, an imposing brick structure, is constructed on south side of Lincoln (then Center), between Harbor and Citron. Its first seven graduates are: Edith Bannerman, Alma Mills, Dora Snyder, John Dauser, Bernard Snyder, Bowman Merritt and Welborn Wallop.


1902 –  The high school’s first literary effort, The Stentorian, is published in February and sold for 50 cents per year. The first issue shows a photo of the faculty and the graduating class of 1902: Arthur G. Baker, Carl Zeus, Olga Boege and Ruth D. EnReal. The first meeting of the Anaheim High Girl’s Athletic Association is held on Oct. 5.


1908 – Citizens unite to form Anaheim Union High School District. AUHSD becomes the largest union school district in California, covering 46 square miles.  Students feed into Anaheim junior highs from Anaheim, Cypress, La Palma, Stanton, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor and portions of Garden Grove, Orange, Fullerton and Buena Park.

1910 – Voters approve $105,000 bond to purchase 11 acres at the northeast corner of Lincoln (then Center) and Citron, just a half block from existing school site.

1911 – The current high school at 608 W. Center (now Lincoln) is sold to the elementary school district for $25,000. The building is demolished in 1937 to make way for the construction of Fremont Junior High, which was closed in 1979 and demolished in 1980.

1912 – New Greek-revival Anaheim Union High School is dedicated and graduates its first class of 17 students. By the following year, almost 200 had earned a high school diploma from the school’s combined campuses.

1918 – Class of 1918 becomes the first to wear caps and gowns at graduation.

1920s – Music education begins with teacher Joshua Williams giving free lessons in an effort to assemble a complete orchestra. He continued this practice over three decades.

1924 – First high school swimming pool in Orange County opens.

1933 – Long Beach earthquake irreparably damages AUHS, requiring its demolition.

1936 – A new art deco AUHS main building, library and auditorium are dedicated. Construction is part of a Work Projects Administration (WPA) project #8291.








1937 –  A sunken garden and fountain in school’s central patio is created.

1940 – Robert Morton theater organ installed in Cook Auditorium and new swimming pool replaces its 1924 predecessor.



1950 – Beginning of the coach Clare Van Hoorebeke’s legendary football era, which endured through 1972.

1953 – Anaheim High’s first drill team is formed and is coached by Helen Gruenfelder.

1957 – Western High School opens, ending Anaheim’s reign as the city’s only high school.

1960 – School district returns Anaheim High to its original name, dropping Union from its title. New buildings are constructed during this time, replacing the remaining pre-earthquake coded buildings.

1964 – New “cereal bowl” fountain replaces sunken garden.

1972 – The Art Quad and other buildings are constructed to replace old barracks that had been “temporary” quarters for 15 years.

1977 – “Wimpy’s Stand,” a popular student landmark for several decades, is changed into the Student Activities Office. The building was taken down in 2007.

2008 –  Two new buildings with 49 state-of-the-art classrooms open. Classes begin February 2009.




Photos: Courtesy of Anaheim Public Library & the AHSAA


“One To Twenty-Eight – A History of Anaheim Union High School District” by Louise Booth

“Anaheim” by Elizabeth J. Schultz and Stephen J. Faessel, a chapter in “A Hundred Years of Yesterdays,” published by the Orange County Historical Commission.

“Anaheim Colonists Football – A Century of Tradition” by Dennis Bateman

Other sources: “Anaheim High (Central School)” by Brad Pettigrew

AHSAA Unearths “Buried” Colonist Treasure


Alex Maese (fourth from left) and Mickey Flynn (far right) were among the outstanding athletes who helped break ground at the Angel Stadium for the OC Sports Hall of Fame.

A series of happy coincidences has led to the recovery of a treasure trove of Colonist memorabilia, including items belonging to legendary Anaheim High football coach Clare Van Hoorebeke. These highly prized relics will be displayed for the first time in nearly 20 years at the Feb. 15 AHSAA 7th Annual Golf Classic, Dinner and Auction at Western Hills Country Club.

The memorabilia was last viewed by the public at the 7,000-square-foot Orange County Sports Hall of Fame housed at Angel Stadium. The Hall of Fame was forced to close when the Angels were bought by Disney, and the entire contents of the museum – cases, fixtures, boxes of sports memorabilia and more – were being stored at a location near Anaheim High School. [Read more…]

Traveling Trombone Returns to AHS

It took a 63-year journey, but Robert Watter’s treasured trombone has returned to “Old AU” to be played by a new generation of Colonists. When Bob, a former Anaheim High band member from Class of 1949, heard the 160-member Colonist band was looking for instruments, he decided to take his trombone out of retirement.

Bob, who is married to Janet Vincent from Class of 1951, first played the instrument when he joined the Anaheim High Band in 1948. His talent for playing the trombone caught the ear of band director William Cook and Bob was recruited to play in the popular nine-member swing band that performed for the school’s Military Ball, dances and other  functions.  (Bob is pictured fourth from left in this photo of the Swing Band from the 1949 yearbook.) Bob was also a member of the Varsity A Club, swimming and water polo teams.

After graduating from Anaheim, Bob’s trombone traveled with him to his next three gigs, which included the Fullerton Junior College Band (1950), the Santa Ana College Band (1951), then the U.S. Air Force Band (1952). Once he left the military, Bob retired the trombone and it was safely stored in his attic for the next 40 years.

The beloved instrument made an encore appearance at the June Anaheim Alumni Breakfast, when Bob presented his trombone to Anaheim’s new band director Breysi Garcia, a Class of 2000 AHS grad. Breysi brought along five of his top trombone players to entertain the breakfast crowd, many of whom were former band members.

Breysi also informed his fellow alumni that the band, known today as the Colonial Regiment, is working to raise funds for a trailer to transport instruments to its many performances. Alumni who care to donate to this effort are encouraged to contact Breysi at  garcia_br@auhsd.k12.ca.us  or emailing anaheimalumni@yahoo.com.

Anaheim 1940s Grads Celebrate School Days at Old AU

Graduates from the Classes of ’43, ’44 and ’45 gathered at Anaheim High recently to reminisce about their school days nearly 70 years past (see photo slideshow of the event below).

The campus was then named Anaheim Union as the only high school in town serving the city’s then 11,000 inhabitants. Anaheim High also served the outlying farming and dairy communities. Many ‘40s grads in attendance recalled riding the bus to school from what would become the cities of Buena Park, Cypress, La Palma and Stanton. [Read more…]

Super Bowl Appearances Aplenty for AHS

Several Anaheim High alumni have made history as players or coaches in the Super Bowl. In fact, Anaheim High holds the record for the most grads from Orange County high schools to participate in pro football’s ultimate game

And let’s not forget that Anaheim High’s 1967 Drill Team made an appearance in the first Superbowl. But first let’s talk about the players.

Anaheim’s Reuben Droughns, Class of 1996, played on special teams for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The most prolific running back in Anaheim Colonists football history, Droughns is the only Anaheim running back to surpass 1,000 yards rushing three times, and ended his career with 4,958 yards, the second highest total in Orange County history up to that time. Check out the Hall of Fame listing on this website to learn more about his pro career and what’s he’s doing now.

Gerry “Moon” Mullins, Class of 1967, is the main man when it comes to playing in Super Bowls. He played in Pittsburgh’s first four Super Bowl champions (IX, X, XIII, XIV). Playing under Chuck Noll, Mullins established himself at left guard, and was an integral part of the Steelers’ dynasty of the 1970s. He started in all four of Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl victories, blocking for the Pro Football Hall of Fame backfield duo of Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris. Mullins spent his entire eight-year career with the Steelers, retiring after Pittsburgh’s victory in Super Bowl XIV. Read more about this Anaheim High great in the Hall of Fame list on this website.

Jim Fassel, Class of ’67, was named NFL Coach of the Year in his first season at the helm in New York, when he led Giants to Super Bowl XXXV.  He’s stilling winning football games as head coach of the Las Vegas Locomotives, leading the United Football League team to two back-to-back championships. You can read more about his career on this website under the Hall of Fame listing.

 Better yet, meet Jim in person at the Feb. 21 AHS Alumni Association Golf Classic and Dinner. This President’s Day event at Western Hills Country Club is not just for golfers. All alumni, family and friends are invited to enjoy a day on the course, in the club house, at a post-game reception, silent auction and dinner. Jim will lead a live auction of items he’s donating, including a Las Vegas package. Jim is a true “Blue and Gold” Colonist and donates an annual scholarship in the name of his father, Bud Fassel, also an AHS graduate who served as equipment manager and was part of the legendary Clare Van Hoorebeke football program.  

Now back to the Drill Team . . .Becky Scott, a Class of ’67 grad, well remembers the experience of performing during the half-time show for the first Super Bowl, which was played in Los Angeles. 

Green Bay and Kansas City were the opposing teams and the Arizona and Grambling University Bands were featured in the half-time ceremony, along with the AHS Drill Team. Becky remembers that the bands and AHS Drill Team formed an outline of the United States and several of the AHS girls were picked to carry NFL team flags and march onto the “map” where the teams were located.  Becky carried the San Francisco 49er’s flag. 

Anyone with photos or addtional memories of this Super Bowl appearance is encouraged to share them. Please email anaheimalumni@yahoo.com with your special memories of Anaheim High.

Story of Lost Letterman Jacket Has Happy Ending

Jan Domene, Tom Bateman and Angel Zavala present Jim Langford with found letterman jacket.Little did Jim Langford know when he lent his Class of ’70 letterman jacket to a friend participating in a ’50s night that it would take more than 20 years to be reunited with a favorite high school memento that held so many memories for him. Jim was a lineman on two CIF Semifinalists teams in 1968 and 1969.

Jim figured the jacket was a goner, like his friend who disappeared after a divorce. (Apparently, the ex-wife donated the jacket to a thrift store.) But the fates were with him when Class of ’87 Colonist Angel Zavala happened to be shopping in at Goodwill in Lake Forest and spotted the classic Colonist jacket from the corner of his eye. He swooped it up for $5.99, knowing he purchased a piece of Anaheim High history.

The jacket remained hanging in Angel’s garage for nearly six years. Then one day last summer he received a call from friend and fellow alumnus Tom Bateman, a Class of ’89 grad and immediate past president of the AHSAA. During their phone call, Angel mentioned finding the jacket and the two decided to put their heads together to find the owner.

It took several more months, but they finally learned that the jacket belonged to Jim by searching yearbooks and football programs to trace the jersey number from the jacket. From there, they contacted Linda Fast Cooper, a Class of ’69 grad who is also an AHSAA board member. Linda had Jim’s phone number and called him to inform him that his jacket had been recovered, to ask if he wanted it back and to find out how it got separated from its owner.

Jim was ecstatic and it was arranged that he would retrieve his jacket at the Dec. 4 Alumni Breakfast, where AHSAA President Jan Domene assisted Tom and Angel in sharing the story of how the jacket was lost and found with the nearly 100 alumni who attend the monthly breakfast at Jagerhaus in Anaheim. In a happy ending to the story, Jim gave Angel back the $5.99 he had spent on the jacket, causing their Colonist classmates to give a big cheer.

Photo caption: Jan Domene, Tom Bateman and Angela Zavala present Jim Langford with found letterman jacket.