Classmates from South Burlington High School Class of 1974 gather for their 40th reunion at the Burlington Country Club.

Rickety Rebels — Life Adventures

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Thursday October 02, 2014

A group of 1974 SBHS Rebel graduates, affectionately self-named the Rickety Rebels have spent years rekindling their love of the outdoors and lifelong friendships

Long-time friends are to be cherished. This is a story about a group of graduates from the South Burlington High School Class of 1974 that have continued to celebrate their friendships through adventure trips together.

Tom Broido, Mark Wetzel, Steve Zajchowski and David Marvin started hiking, winter camping and climbing together during their teenage years as classmates at SBHS. They explored the Green Mountains, Adirondacks and White Mountains throughout high school. The life lessons learned were important as they became more competent in the outdoors, but the camaraderie was equally significant. Their culminating trip together was a multi-day winter traverse of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire during winter break from college in ’75.

Life became busy as it often does with college, marriage, careers, moves, and children. It became more difficult to stay in touch and spend time outdoors together.

Fast forward a couple of decades to the summer of 1994; faced with a twentieth SBHS reunion the four decided to spend a week together in Colorado as a way of reconnecting and celebrating their friendships in high school. Wetzel lived in Reading, Massachusetts, was married and had two sons. Zajchowski lived in West Bolton, Vermont. Broido lived in Hinesburg, was married with a daughter and another one on the way. Marvin lived in Boulder, Colorado was married and he and his wife were expecting their first child. Tom, Steve and Mark joined host David in Boulder, Colorado for a week in June; the four rented a van, drove west, camped and climbed 14,000 foot Mount Princeton, paddled two person kayaks on the Arkansas, Crystal, Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers and fished on the Frying Pan River. The four agreed that the mini-reunion was a huge success and agreed to continue to spend time together in the outdoors. It felt easy to be together again and didn’t feel like the time between adventures had been so long.

Bob Tabakin, another close friend to the four in high school became involved in subsequent trips as did children, spouses and other friends. The original group were now dubbed the “Rickety Rebels”, a name coined by Broido prior to the first gathering. Broido designed a t-shirt defining the group as the Rickety Rebels and the name became a mainstay.

Since that time the Rickety Rebels have been on trips to British Columbia, Canada to backcountry ski out of remote huts, mountain bike tours on the White Rim trail and hiking in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. They have gone on backcountry ski trips in the mountains of central and southwest Colorado and the most recent adventure, a 350 mile circumnavigation of Lake Champlain by bicycle September 14-19, 2014, beginning the day after their 40th SBHS reunion at the Burlington Country Club on September 13.

The bike tour included all five Rickety Rebels plus spouses Sue Storey, Joan Wetzel, former class mate and Rebel Terry Findeisen and other friends from the South Burlington area. Broido and Storey designed cycling jerseys and hats for the group which was cause for many interesting conversations with curious strangers during the tour! The group spent 6 days riding through Grand Isle, VT; St Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec; Keeseville, NY; Ticonderoga, NY and Panton, VT before finishing in Hinesburg on Friday September 19.

The effort the group has made to stay in touch has reaped significant rewards; they know each other’s families, value the long time connection, have seen some beautiful places together- and are already scheming about the next adventure!