Ariton High School Class

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 25, 2001

of ’31 is a class with attitude


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At a time when high school seniors are looking forward to "breaking out" into the world, many "seniors" are looking back to some of the "best years of their lives."

No high school senior will believe that they have just lived through the "best" times. No senior citizen will deny that their high school days were among the "best" days.

But no matter whether the seniors are looking ahead or looking back, one thing is for certain – their high school days will never be forgotten.

After 61 years, the Ariton High School Class of 1939 is proof of that.

Nineteen students graduated from Ariton High that year. Twelve of them are living and eight of them gathered last week to celebrate the 61st anniversary of their graduation.

The classmates spent a lot of time "catching up" with each other and they also took time to reminisce.

"We attended high school in the middle of the Depression," said Sarah Keeler. "We graduated just before Pearl Harbor and World War II. Coca-Colas were five cents – the same as chewing gum. I made my graduation dress for $1.50, thanks to my home economics teacher."

Other classmate remember that their schoolrooms were heated with wood or coal heaters, which served as means of early dismissal from school.

"If someone wanted out of school for some ‘important’ reason, it was amazing what wound up in the heater or one the heater and the room had to be cleared," Keeler said, laughing.

Discipline was not a problem for teachers, "because if we got in trouble in school, we were in more trouble at home." But that didn’t keep teenagers from mischief, especially if they were seniors and ready and rearin’ to tackle the world.

"One day, late in the spring, several of us played hookie and went down to the river," Keeler said. "The boys decided to cross the river on a floating log. They took off their shoes and tied them around their necks. The log rolled and they went in the river. One boy lost his shoes and had to finish the year in his tennis shoes."

The Class of 1939 had some "starch" about it and they were mounted a protest long before university students made protest popular.

"At the end of our senior class play, our homeroom teacher was fired because someone reported her for smoking," Keeler said. "Monday morning the majority of our class arrive at the Ozark courthouse to protest, along with our principal, Mr. John White Teal who was nicknamed Pun Jab. After this meeting our teacher was reinstated."

The class decided to have their senior banquet in Troy, with the senior treasury paying for it.

"We didn’t leave the school a present and it was rumored we graduated leaving a debt to the school of 50 cents," Keeler said, laughing at what they must owe after tacking on 61 years of interest.

Speaking of "tacking on," the eight attending members of the Class of 1939, laughingly admitted they have been tacking on the years since graduation.

"But we are fortunate to have lost only seven of our classmates in all that time," they said, adding that attitude has been a contributing factor in bringing them to their 61st class reunion. All of them agreed that of all the things they learned in school and in the years since, the one thing that makes the most difference in life is attitude.

"A positive attitude is more important than almost anything. It gets you through the hard times and it makes the good times better."

The Class of ’39 closed with a benediction that included these words: "Let us be active and stay active to the very end, remembering that, even when disabled, it is not what we have lost but what we have left that counts. Even though we are senior citizens and a part of a group, let us remain individuals and express that individualism, within the bounds of society’s rules. May we be ever creative in living our retirement lives, so as to make the last part of our lives the best part."

They left their class reunion with encouraging words for high school seniors – their high school days

have been some of the best years of their lives, but the best is yet to come.