Between the years 1988 – 1993, ABC featured a television show highlighting the coming of age of Kevin Arnold, a suburban, middle-class adolescent growing up during the years 1968 – 1973. Week after week, viewers watched with amusement, and a bit of nostalgia and sadness, as Kevin pursued his love interest, Winnie Cooper.
We watched the evening of May 12, 1993 when the show aired its last episode. The ending promised to inform viewers how the show’s characters lives turned out. Everyone hoped that Kevin and Winnie would live a life of happily ever after.
Daniel Stern, the voice that narrated what we all thought, began to narrate the show’s conclusion.
“Once upon a time, there was a girl I knew who lived across the street, brown hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, I smiled, when she cried, I cried. Every single thing that ever happened to me that mattered, in some way, had to do with her. That day, Winnie and I promised each other that no matter what, that we will always be together. It was a promise full of passion, truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that can only come from the hearts of the very young.”
In the show’s final scene, Kevin and Winnie return to their hometown to watch a 4th of July parade, knowing that Winnie would leave the next day to study art in Paris. They keep their promise to each other and write every week. After studying abroad for eight years, Winnie returns. Kevin goes to the airport to welcome Winnie home from Paris. And then you hear the narrator say that Kevin introduces Winnie to his wife and eight-month old son.
Fans were disappointed with the ending, in particular the revelation that Kevin and Winnie don't end up as a couple. The writer Bob Brush acknowledged this disappointment, saying, "Some viewers are surprised and disappointed that nothing works out the way your fondest wish would be.” He went on to explain “the message I wanted was that's part of the beauty of life. It's fine to say, 'I'd like everything to be just the way it was when I was 15 and I was happy,' but it seemed more nurturing to me to say that we leave those things behind and we go on to forge new lives for ourselves."
For some of the Class of ’68, they did end up with their high school sweethearts, and are still with them today. These include:
- Dennis Bennett (’68) married Diane Ceriani (’69)
- Lee Bersuder (’68) married Jane Bredernitz ((’67)
- Mark Burkhart (’68) married Denise Chambers (’70)
- Carol Dieterle (’68) married Gary Kind (’64)
- Ron Feeman (’68) married Sue Hewitt (’69)
- John Finkbeiner (’68) married Brenda Rentschler (’72)
- Randy Haas (’68) married Sherry Heskett (’70)
- Ron James (’68) married Kathy Krempel (’69)
- Sharon Kind (’68) married Joe Compton (’65)
- Robert Morton (’68) married Kathryn Wood (’68 who has passed away)
- Roberta Politz (’68) married Al Riley (’68)
- Bill Rentfro (’68) married Linda Henes (’69 who has passed away)
- Lynne Rutherford (’68) married Matt (Bud) Seeger (’67)
- James Scudder (’68) married Cathy Chantelois (’69)
- Pat Farmer (’68) married Dick Lossing (’67)
- Terry Sheats (’68) married wife Gail Mastie while still in high school
- Larry Jedele (’68) married Lois Dieterle (’69)
- Barb Still (’68) married Dale Handy (‘72)
- Marilyn Niethammer (’68) married Bill Glaze (’71)
- Dale Wilson (’68) married Pat Rapp (’70)