UNION CITY — When Union City held its first Homecoming parade 49 years ago, the high school’s class of 1944 entered a float titled “School Days.”

“It was built over a truck and we used a bell from the old Hatch School,” said Herb Combs, 82, a retired Union City postmaster who still lives in the borough. “It wasn’t pretty — at least not compared with what we make today.”

Nearly five decades later, Combs and a dedicated handful of his classmates and their surviving spouses — all in their early 80s — are still entering floats in Union City’s annual Homecoming parade.

The class, which is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, has failed to enter a float only a few times in the long history of the parade.

And when the parade rolls up Main Street at 11 a.m. today, the “Circus Express,” powered by the irrepressible class of ’44, will be part of the action.

The longtime friends value their time-tested companionship, which has survived not only the good times, but also the bad times that have included the deaths of family members and fellow classmates.

“When you think of all the things we’ve done in our lives, it’s wonderful when everything is so happy and peaceful,” Combs said. “If we can get together and enjoy it, that’s what it’s all about.”

“We’ve all had a good life,” added Dorothy Wellman, 83.

Classmate Helen Bidwell, 82, agrees.

See the Journal's Saturday, October 3rd edition.

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