Last weekend, my graduating class of Smith-Cotton High school held its 55th reunion. In the weeks before the date the song from the Statler Brothers kept running through my mind: “The Class of ’57 had its Dreams”. Every time we get together the rendezvous gets a little more subdued. Little wonder, we are no spring chickens now. I couldn’t help but notice on the last page of our upgraded data booklet, there were 57 names of people who have died. Rather ironic, isn’t it?
We were the first public group to gather at the Tiki House on “Kids Day” in 1957. Over the years, we have spread out like the spokes of a wheel to all borders of the USA. Some have moved to be closer to their kids and grandchildren, and not surprisingly, many have moved to warmer climates near retirement communities. Nevertheless, once every five years, each has traveled up the spokes of the wheel back to the hub where their lives began to renew friendships and acquaintances. I’m always surprised at the number of classmates who show up for these gatherings. It is more like a family reunion than a gathering of people who were thrust together from various grade schools.
The glue that has kept us together is Barbra Friend, whose persistence has urged us to return to our roots. And, in a sense, we are now family, keeping track of each other with phone calls, cards and email. A couple of teachers also showed up: Bob Edmondson, my home room teacher, and Betty Bob (Scotten) Jones, who taught grade school for nearly half the people there. I was surprised that most everybody looked pretty healthy. There was no point in talking about each other’s health, as we had more important issues to catch up on, like what was happening in our families. But enough was said to agree that very few of us would make it through a metal detector without setting off alarms. And pills, oh my gosh, we take them by the handfuls. It’s a wonder we all don’t turn into a pillars of chalk!
Not surprisingly, a lot of things have changed over the last 55 years. I’m not talking about the price of a gallon of gas, but rather our social behavior. In past years, we would have a DJ or even a band playing the “old” songs, and we danced and partied until the wee hours of the morning. Now, we are all in bed before 10 o’clock and plumb tuckered out. Heck, people don’t even touch each other when they dance anymore!
We were all born as the Depression was winding down and the world was about to embark on a World War. Patriotism was at an all- time high. We were united together for a common cause. I don’t believe the baby boomers got that same feeling of urgency. The front porch has disappeared from America, and in the process we’ve lost something.
Leading up to this rendezvous, I was thinking about an essay I had to write for graduation. Our English teacher, Miss Cook, announced one day that we all had one requirement before we could leave her class and graduate.
She said, “I want you to write a one-page essay on where you will be and what you will be doing ten years from now.”
It was a daunting task, for I had to pull myself away from squirrel hunting and fishing and sleeping under the stars and floating the rivers to ugh, growing up! I was forced to think about getting married, having a family of my own and a place to call home. Almost immediately I wished I had studied harder.
I still have that paper and reviewing it recently, I don’t think I did too bad considering my immaturity at the time. I purchased a farm when I was 15 years old from Hampton Haggard; it was paid for by 1967. I was married and had two healthy girls and lived in a house on that farm, now mortgaged to the hilt. By the skin on my teeth, I missed the draft and didn’t have to go to Korea. The small cow-calf herd turned out to be Polled Herefords rather than Angus but hey, nobody’s perfect. Judging from the stories I heard this year I think my laundry list from Miss Cook was pretty typical.
The Class of ’57 had its day.
Sadly, as I was typing this article, I received a call and learned that Floyd Evans, who attended the reunion, died of a heart attack at his home on