A Half Century Later: Some Memories of My 50th High School Reunion

Some Stayed Later

Fifty years ago this past Spring, 118 of us graduated from Boyd County High School, near Ashland, Kentucky.  We had our adult lives fully before us; and we were excited for various reasons related to freedom, college, jobs, marriages and families, and lots more in our futures.
On October 13, 2013, several of us in that graduating class reunited at the new Boyd County High School building for a reunion.  We learned right away that twenty-four of our classmates had died, though some said it seemed like a low percentage, since nearly 100% of us would be 68 or 69 years old this year.  

I had never even seen the outside of the new high school building; and I was impressed with the location, on a hillside overlooking the valley, two stories tall and very different from the building where most of our class had spent four years of their lives.  More on this building later.

As I exited my car in the large parking lot, I saw another classmate get out of his vehicle.  Bruce Adkins was as casually dressed as I would have expected and looked good.  (Please note:  Most of us looked a lot better fifty years ago as you would expect, so when I say looked good, I am not likely to be comparing folk to their much younger appearances.  Bruce looked good for his age, a little better than most.)  We greeted each other as we walked into the building and saw others in the distance heading there as well.

I also want to note that a few of the "girls" present were still very nice looking, including one in particular whom I thought was prettier, though older looking of course, than she was in high school.  No names, though, to save her from embarrassment and any other girls there from feeling left out.

The team who had put together the reunion details were well organized, had a professional photographer taking photos of everything; and registration was easy and we each had on a name tag with our graduation photos.  (I don't believe it was to remind us of how old we were but so we'd recognize that person we may not have seen for decades; but it was a reminder of how old we were anyway.)

I really enjoyed seeing everyone.  I didn't get to speak with enough of them.  Some I have as Facebook friends and get updates about their lives anyway; but it was still good to see them in the flesh and get hugs and handshakes and smiles and to talk in person.  Others I barely remembered from high school except, perhaps, for their names.  Many of them, though, would have been among my closest friends in high school.

Relatively soon we were invited for a tour of the magnificent new facility.  Two stories high and beautifully built and modern inside and out.  On the tour, Bill Edison and I were frequently near one another; and we were impressed with the facility and its equipment.  They have what would have seen like magical white boards in the classrooms that used an electronic method to make writing appear on the white boards.  That, in itself, was impressive; but the thing Bill, in particular, noticed was the large number of video cameras stationed around the building.  A boy wouldn't have to worry much about having his pants pulled off of him in the restroom and the guy or guys who did it getting away with it at the new BCHS facility. 

Earlier Bill Eidson and I had discussed with others how he, in particular, and most of us who had good reputations at the school really didn't do that much wrong; but that, when we did we were more clever about it.  Bill, in particular,  as the School Superintendent's son, would have been in lots of trouble.  (Now I am not saying Bill or I ever actually DID anything bad while in the high school, of course.)  While on tour, though, Bill leaned over toward me and whispered something like, "Mike, how long do you think it would have taken us to hack those cameras if we were students here today?"  I laughed and said, "You're right, Bill."  That is exactly the kind of thing we would have tried to do, not to make trouble, but just for the adventure of it all.

Can you find any of the cameras?

Some of us at the reunion were apolitical.  Others, like me are very progressive, though I won't name them just in case they are still in the closet with their political leanings.  Others were very conservative to being regressive, not just conservative, it seemed to me.  One thing I noticed in the directory they sent out following the reunion is that in June following our graduation the "Equal Pay Act" was passed.  Unfortunately it is still not a reality as women continue to make about 20-30% less than men, in spite of strides that have been made.

I won't identify the person; and I still like him because he hasn't had my experiences in life nor even the amount of education; but I also know that from some others I still might have heard the following that shocked me, even though I shouldn't have in this conservative red state in an even more conservative part of that state: 

Wait, scratch that, I'm not going to tell that racist, anti-Obama "joke" on my blog.  Just let me say that I realized I wasn't "in Kansas anymore," or more specifically, I wasn't in my dominantly progressive County of Woodford just outside of the dominantly progressive City of Frankfort anymore.  It took me a few minutes to get over that; and it made me uncomfortable for the rest of the evening, though. I probably would have been a bit more outgoing if I hadn't been careful about blurting my beliefs out loud about equality and progressive ideals.  And the bigger question is why someone who is basically a nice, funny guy would think it was Okay to tell the joke in the first place.

One of the more impressive parts of our get together was the meal itself, prepared by the Culinary Arts department at the school.  (Would we have even known what "culinary arts" meant in 1963?)  It was excellent; and the presence of the high school students who prepared and served the meal was a welcome addition to the evening.  Before the evening was over our class presented a porcelain dinnerware set for the use of the department.

We had several group photos; and I have gone through them to see if I missed anyone from my list of those present.  I think I have missed one person, possibly more; but here is my list, using only maiden names for the women::
Cheryl Barker
Fleming "Pete" Literal
Sandy Stewart
Alma Cumston
Jim Adams
Jay Young III
Kathy McGuire
Shirley Robinson
Bill Bradley
Becky Bowling
Ardena Ellis
Wesley Robbins
Judy Groves
Virginia Smith
Horton Rice
Denver Bluegaum
Bruce Adkins
Mary Lee Arthur
Bobby Browning
Jim Taylor
Brenda Peterman
Claude Whitt
Judy Rice
Juanita Pack
Anna Mary Hicks
Roland Sturgill
Pat Deskin
Ida Ruth McGuire

Those are in order as I remembered them; but, if you notice someone from the class who was present but whom I missed, please let me know so I can add them.  Below are the two best photos, in my opinion.

Finally, I went back to my sister's house to spend the night.  The next day I visited with two old friends.  One of them was a very negative experience, again seeing a regressive, fear-based approach to life, but, in the evening, a meal with another of my BCHS friends from "back in the day" was a delight.

On Sunday afternoon I stopped at the Taylor Home, my great-great-grandfather's log cabin, which has become a museum of sort after being moved to Grayson, just to see it from the outside.  Within a  month I was able to go back there.  Perhaps I'll blog about my trip to a friend's wedding where I got to see the inside and learn more about my ancestry later.
A Few More Photos From The Night