Over the Memorial Day holiday we all remembered the Veterans of wars gone by. We think particularly of those who lost their lives to make ours better. For me it was a very busy weekend, with family and friends. Amy, Jon and Benji were all here and so were Carrie and Ashlee. It was unique to have all three grandchildren (Connor, Ellee, and Rex) here at the same time. That was pretty special.
While we all had plenty of thought and reverence for Memorial Day, my weekend took me back to another place and time. My thoughts were of J.F.K., L.B.J., Beatles, Big Boy, Scioto Breeze, Scioto County Fair, Raven Rock Drag Strip, muscle cars, The Franklin, football, track, baseball, red chevy, penny loafers, black converse tennis shoes, madras plaid, tie-dye, bell bottoms, pegged pants, pizza, family and friends.
It was a precious moment to reflect back on the way we were and it was a group therapy thinkin’ thing. Sixty-five of us took a “magic carpet ride” and we’re “groovin’” back to ’64. There was a little “Lost in the Sixties”, “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, “Twist and Shout”, and “Workin’ My Way Back to You Babe” goin’ on.
“Wild Thing”, “Louie-Louie”, “House of the Risin’ Sun” and “The Devil with the Blue Dress” had faded to “Mellow Yellow” and “A Lighter Shade of Pale”.
Memorial Day Weekend at Minford means it’s time for the Alumni Dinner also. This is a gathering of all alumni that have graduated since 1924. The Class of 1924 had 7 graduates and the Class of 1964 had 109 graduates. What’s so special about those classes? 1924 was Minford’s first graduating and 1964 was not only my class but we were also celebrating our Golden Anniversary. Yes, it’s been 50 years and you have to wonder where does the time go?
We had 65 people in our group at our table and that’s a pretty good number. When you consider that 16 are deceased and many are ailing and/or far away, that’s a good turnout. The dinner was Saturday night and of course we had a get together in the library afterwards.
The actual reunion was on Friday night at the Legion. We had 65 people there also, but there were 4 who didn’t make it both nights. This was a night of old slides, memories, and music enjoyed by young people. The conversations were priceless and the old memories brought out new memories for another 50 years. Speaking of that time frame, as class president, I was up for reelection and my campaign promises included, if re-elected, you get in free to the next 50th reunion. I thought that a pint of whiskey should do the job.
This reunion was the result of the efforts of a great committee. They brought a lot of effort and diversified talents to the table. They met every other Thursday night for about 6 months prior to the reunion.
Dave Turner was one of the members and he brought with him his teaching skills and his yearbook. This proved to be the best memory we had. It’s sort of like the old saying,”The finest print is worth more than the largest memory.”
Jan Gahm Flowers was also very involved, as was Joann Weeks. Those two did the research to find the room and dinner. They were also instrumental in decoration and paperwork on classmate status, then and now. Ralph Flowers wasn’t in our class, but it was obvious that he wanted to be. He should get the classmate spouse award for all that he contributed along the way. Isn’t being a spouse at a reunion usually considered a long evening? Thank you Ralph for having a good time with us.
Earl Potters probably came the farthest to meetings from Hurricane, West Virginia. Mike Crabtree donated the cakes (3 of them). Beverly Nourse and Linda Blackburn were also there at meetings to help locate classmates.
We had a local celebrity there also at our meetings. The mayor of Minford, Franklin Deatley, was there to advise us on the where-abouts of many classmates. If you can’t find those people on the internet or on posters down at the post office, ask Frank.
Tim Burton was a real shaker and mover on this reunion agenda. He did everything from the invitation letter that we sent out by mail to mugs, magnets, pictures, name tags, and the music we had both nights. One of the most memorable things he did was to create a DVD that has the slide show and music of both the past and that night. I would think that everyone in that class would appreciate that disc and the paperwork that Joann compiled on classmate history.
Mike and Jill Pinson were on the inside track with the reunion organization. They handled the search for classmates and the reunion publicity on Facebook. They also headed up the scholarship fund campaign. This amounted to over $2000 donated by our classmates. This scholarship was donated to the school at the alumni dinner.
My recruiting was done the old-fashioned way – I called or went door-to-door. Yes, I was turned down by some, almost persuaded some, and did persuade some. You win some and you lose some. That’s what they say, but in my case, it was a win-win situation. Even if they didn’t come to the reunion, we had great conversation and shared many memories. In that respect, you might say I had 6 months of reunion. I truly spoke with 1-2 classmates each week that I hadn’t seen in years.
In the beginning, I thought big and envisioned our turnout at 75-80%, since it was our fiftieth. As time and conversations went by, I realized that my classmates had many, many issues of health and circumstance to prohibit their attendance. The number of 65 proved to be pretty good, all things considered. We even found one guy to be alive and well that we had on our “deceased” list. He was relieved to find out he was still alive.
The bottom line of my venture here is that I was greatly enlightened as to just how much I’d forgotten or never knew about my classmates. Of course we have all had a life after graduation and that was very interesting also. Some were quiet in school and are now very outspoken, while some gained weight or lost hair. Life just isn’t all that fair or predictable. The one thing that we all had in common was to have the smartest and best-looking kids and grandkids ever. Ironic? Perhaps and perhaps not.
Do the math. These people graduated in 1964 and most were born in 1946. You got it – these folks are right on the cutting edge of the Baby-Boomer Generation. What else would you expect from them? Of course their kids and grandkids are perfect – ask them – they’ll tell you.
This generation is the product of the turbulent sixties and they’re from “The Church of What’s Happenin’ Now.” Some wore madras and penny loafers and others wore beads and flowers in their hair. Some listened to Buck, Loretta, Johnny, Willie, and Merle and others liked The Beatles, Rolling Stones, or Mamas and Papas. Back then, if things were not “cool” or “groovy,” there might be a protest, demonstration, or sit-in to bring “Big Brother” or “the Establishment” around to their way of thinking. Why, oh way, couldn’t we have ruled the world then, when we knew it all?
At the reunion, we had the pictures of those 16 deceased classmates at a memorial table. I told the group what my grandpa always said, “A person is never gone until they’re forgotten.” I asked for people to come up and share memories of those deceased classmates with us. This proved to be a good, positive portion of the agenda. As the tales were told, they weren’t forgotten, so in essence, they weren’t really gone, were they?
In true Baby Boomer fashion, we aren’t about to blame ourselves for the way we turned out and we’ve had 50 years now to think about it, Mark Twain said, “Gather all the facts and details precisely and then distort them to meet your needs.” Pointing the finger of blame brings us around to our inviting teachers. Who else can we blame?
Ruth and Claude Sammons were there and so was Dave Patrick. Ruth taught girls Phys. Ed. And was the founding mother of G.A.A. at Minford. The Girls Athletic Association was the only way girls could compete in sports at that time. You’ve come a long way, Baby.
Claude was our football and track coach and he taught Industrial Arts. I still use the mechanical drawing in my bids and linebacker mentality to execute my ways and means.
Dave Patrick taught us chemistry and physics. The memories and conversations ranged from how well we were prepared for college to, “Remember when we tried to burn up the lab?”
Those were the days and that’s the way we were. As some stayed close, some went away and stayed and others returned, we were all looking for the elusive butterfly called happiness and we all spelled it differently.
As they mingled and meandered down life’s highway, they may have found speed bumps, potholes, detours, or easy street, but all they really wanted was happiness. You know Ben Franklin’s take on that, “The Constitution doesn’t grant you happiness, but rather the ‘pursuit of happiness’.”
The Duck Commander, Phil Robertson, in DUCK DYNASTY, just wants you to be Happy, happy, happy.
Mrs. Wellman, our Prose and Poetry teacher, enjoyed having the jocks get up in front of the class and recite poetry. She stood about 4’ tall and I thought I was 10’ tall and bulletproof, but she was clearly in charge. I thought I knew all I’d ever need to know about poetry because I knew there was this old guy somewhere named Shakespeare and he wrote this love story about Romeo and Juliet (or was it Romet and Juleo?). For the sake of argument, let’s say this here Juliet comes out on her bedroom balcony and commences to moanin’, “Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou?” It’s right about then that this here Romeo character jumps right up astraddle of the garden wall and his suave and debonair manner proclaims to her delight, “Why I’m ritchere in the bushes.”
Now I’m gonna tell you right now that this was all the poetry that I figured I had the cranial capacity for or the butt to sit and listen to. Mrs. Wellman thought different.
She had this “Ode to a Louse” or “Sonnet to a Bonnet” by Robert Burns all picked out for me and it went like this: “Oh wad’s the power,
The Giftee gee us
To see ourselves
As ithers see us.”
Thank you, thank you, no applause necessary. Yes, I was asked to share that with the class enough times that I remembered it. Now here’s the thing – we have a proper English teacher trying to convince a high school senior that there’s actually room for improvement in him. Can you imagine that? Therein lies the problem.
I would like to have a nickel for every time that I applied that sonnet to life, in the years to come. As we deal with others in relationships, marriage, business, etc. it is imperative that we give thought to how others perceive us.
I’ll close with a thought from a conversation that I had with Mike Pinson on Thursday night, as we decorated at the Legion for the reunion. He said that he remembered Mrs. Pelphrey, another teacher, saying in the gym, in 1964, at our graduation, “This is the last time you will all be together.” She was right.
There you have it from what’s left of Dudley Wooten – Class of ’64.