My 50th Huntsville high school class reunion was this weekend, and holy smoke, about fourth-fifths of the class showed up--Art Koeniger as far away as Alaska and Nancy Hall-Hollis as close as a couple of blocks away. My cousin, Barbara Jean, aka Bubbles, who spent most summers with me and dated many of the guys in my class, accompanied me as did my sweetheart, Ron.
Sweet mercy, it was so good to see everyone. Many of us went all the way through public school together, from first grade through high school. Others like Pat Wood and Margaret Nuchia moved to Huntsville their junior year in high school and graduated with the class of 1964. When Bill Roy (he goes by Bill now, living in Arizona and no longer needing that two-name Texas moniker) introduced me to his wife, I told her that Bill and I danced the minuet in Colonial costumes when we were in Mrs. Jackson's first grade class. She replied, "Maybe that explains why it took me 40 years to get him on the dance floor."
Many of my female classmates had southern double names: Mary Ethel, Mary Elizabeth, Mary Nell, Nancy Gay, Carol Ann, Amy Lou, Linda Lou... you get the idea. Except for Mary Elizabeth, they have dropped the second name. As for the guys, almost all of them have dropped the "y" or "ie" on their boyhood names of Danny, Jimmy, Donnie, Ronnie... again, you get the idea. I think there's probably a rule of agreement that men can do that after they are 50 years old or have moved out of state.
We reminisced about the major impact Coach J.J. Head and journalism teacher Karey Bresenhan, among others, had on our lives. Coach Head is deceased; Karey Bresenhan went on to become the founder of the International Quilt Association. She was a surprise guest to our class meeting as was Grace's mother, Velda Hall, who at 105 is the oldest living parent of the class members. I was able to personally thank Karey B. for the solid foundation and encouragement she provided me as a young journalist. Grace's mother, who uses a walker to get around and has a mind sharper than mine, had us laughing in the aisles with the quick-witted repartee she exchanged at the podium with her niece Nancy.
We recalled climbing the Huntsville water tower, sneaking cigarettes, driving to the bootlegger on Gospel Hill, Friday night football, slumber parties, learning the Garner stomp (similar to the today's Texas 2-step), meeting at the Tastee Freeze after school, Mrs. Oliver's typing class, going to the college to "paste up" the high school student newspaper (the Hornet Hive) and checking our shoes to be sure we didn't have part of the newspaper clued there .... such memories!
We all agreed that we grew up in intense times (Cuban Missle Crisis, Kennedy Assassination, beginning of the Vietnam War), and that may be the reason we still care about each other. There are no cliques anymore
--we love each other for the survivors we are. We lived through interesting times and now we live interesting lives, and it's good to hear about our university research, our writing projects, our medical care work, our volunteer service in schools, hospitals, clinics, and our children and their children.
So much went into the weekend activities. Larry and Merrie Monzingo provided commemorative drink coozies and commemorative labeled bottled water for us. Margaret Prentice and Nancy Hall were the amazing coordinators who managed to track us down and make all the arrangements for a grrrrrrreat reunion. I wish I could recall all the individuals who contributed their time, leadership, and finances for this once-in-a-lifetime event, but I'm getting up in the years and it was taxing enough to put names to faces.
Hornet Hugs to all my classmates.
*FYI: Huntsville High School's mascot is the Fighting Hornet.