In the 16 months I’ve been writing my blog I’ve mentioned, on quite a few occasions, my time in Chrysler when I served my apprenticeship with 17 other guys from 1968 to 1972. In March of this year, one of those 17, Harry, stumbled across my blog and got in touch. He mentioned a couple of others; Garry who had been shipwrecked in the Pacific and Eddie who was now running an engineering business in Germany. I managed to find Garry on Facebook and from memory was given Eddie’s e-mail address by Harry, who has German relatives. I’ve always kept in touch with another Eddie so that was five who were now in contact – but what about the other 13? I set out to try and trace them – after all I’ve nothing else to do with my time! Our last reunion was in 1992 but what had happened to the missing 13 members of the Class of 68 during the intervening 17 years?
I started off with Douglas - I recalled that he was employed in the Scotch Whisky industry. Accessing the part of my brain which generally holds masses of useless information, I came up with the name of his employer and an e-mail to his old company managed to trace him quite quickly.
That was the easy one but after that it became increasingly difficult however I’m pleased to say that Douglas joined me in the task. The first thing to be said is that the internet is amazing and without it, the search would have been significantly more difficult and time consuming but the ease with which guys who ‘disappeared’ 17 years ago were traced was quite amazing.
Remembering that Graeme had been involved with the auto industry in the Midlands, I simply typed his name into Google, sent an e-mail off to the last company mentioned and there he was – in my in box within 24 hours. Similarly with Allan who worked in the oil services industry in the North of Scotland – a simple search on Google and an e-mail to his company and he had joined the list of the rediscovered.
Meanwhile Douglas was taking the easy option. He already knew where Jim was and had a good idea about Robert but managed to get his PA to do the searching for him for the others and on a daily basis the Class of 68 were gradually brought together again.
It became something of a race between myself and Douglas’s PA. Charles was proving elusive but I reckoned he was working in Angus Council and sure enough the PA won the race and Charles was found. She also found Peter, Herbert, Tommy (another one) and Kenny.
The inboxes were now bulging with long lost tales of what we got up to in those halcyon days in Chrysler but we were still missing a few souls. There was Alistair who I reckoned was in the teaching profession and who was traced a few days ago by, yes you’ve guessed it, the amazing PA! And so we’re down to one missing apprentice – Jim Shields who was supposedly working in the shipping construction industry in Glasgow. I reckon we’re only a few days from reaching him and that will end the search for the Class of 68.
Whether we’ll all make it to the reunion we hope to hold next year remains to be seen but I’ll be there for sure.
The tankard, which was presented to Garry on his 21st birthday, shows the names of the 18 who made up the Class of 68.
The following URLs will take you to the previous Blog postings about the ‘Chrysler days’.http://tomsfrenchblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/chrysler-goes-bust.html