From Iran to These Reunited States

For the first graduates of the Tehran American School, life in Iran
For the first graduates of the Tehran American School, life in Iran "was like walking back into biblical times." (Courtesy Of Jan Wood)
By John Kelly
Thursday, April 19, 2007

When it came time to pick a site for her high school class's 45th reunion, Clifton's Jan Wood voted for Atlanta.

"I knew if they came here I would be the setup person," she joked. Atlanta lost, Washington won and, true to her prediction, Jan helped organize last weekend's reunion of the 1962 graduating class from the Tehran American School.

You don't often see the words Tehran and American together in such a benign setting these days, but there was a time when thousands of Americans lived in Iran, many working, like Jan's father, in the construction industry. Many of the sons and daughters of these expats got their education at the American School in the Iranian capital.

Jan was in the first graduating class. "We were a very tight group and a very small group," she said. There were 18 graduates in the Class of '62; 13 attended the reunion.

The Americans lived in compounds but still managed to experience the fabric of Tehran life: the chador-clad women, the irrigation ditches known as jubes running down the sides of streets, the sound of celebratory cannon fire after the shah's wife gave birth to a son.

Wealthy Iranians would cruise past in Mercedes-Benzes. Traffic would stop to allow the occasional herd of camels to pass by.

"It was like walking back into biblical times," Jan said.

She has especially fond memories of the school, since it's where she met her husband, Jim, whose father also worked for J.A. Jones Construction.

"We didn't have American things to go to," Jan said. No football team. No soda shop to throng after school. For their senior trip, the classmates boarded a bus to the Caspian Sea. Their class ring featured an Iranian coin with the shah's image on it.

For the reunion, Jan ordered a cake from Vienna's Yas Bakery emblazoned with "Congratulations Class of 1962" in Farsi. She served Iranian-style pistachio nougat candies and crispy Iranian bread.

The Iran of 1962 was on their minds, not the Iran of evil-axis fame.

"We prefer to talk about the good times," Jan said. "We're all 62 years old. It's nice to be around people who you don't have to hide your age" from.

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