Pike County Class celebrates 65 years

Published 11:20 pm Monday, November 11, 2013


When classmates gather for a reunion, it’s impossible not to acknowledge the toll that years take on a body.

John Harden, laughingly, said that, as a high school senior, he thought someone 50 years old was ancient.

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“Now, here we are having our 65th class reunion, and we’re not all that old,” Harden said, with a quick smile and a twinkle in his eyes.

The Pike County High School Class of 1948 celebrated 65 years at Clay Hill Farms Saturday.

Reunions, one classmate laughingly said, are get togethers where you try to figure out who’s who and then you sit around and talk and act like you like each other.

“But all really do,” the classmate said collectively.

Seventeen classmates and one faculty member, Kyle Roberson, attended. That was reason to celebrate. However, the deaths of so many of their classmates brought a cloud of sadness over the group as they paused to remember them.

“But it was a wonderful time of looking back and remembering the good times we had,” said John Dorrill, a class member, who along with his wife, Carol, hosted the reunion.

Twelve of the class members started first grade together and graduated high school together. Others came into Brundidge from “grammar” schools out in the county; others came from other communities and a few from adjoining states.

All of “boys” in attendance remembered Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Johnny Mack Brown and playing cowboys and Indians in the gullies that dotted the countryside.

They all remembered the Great Depression and how they “made do” with what they had. The “boys” remembered taking jobs, no matter how lowly, and being proud to get them.

“Back then, we didn’t have central heat so the boys had to get to school early to fire up the wood stove during the winter,” said Harry Hargrove. “When we started moving the wood, rats would come running out and that made it legal to stomp on them.”

Hargrove said one day the fullback on the football team was running to the shower and big rat came out of nowhere. The rat leaped.

“And that big fullback drop kicked that rat way out of sight,” Hargrove said, laughing.

The men told stories of playing basketball on clay courts.

“Outside you can arch a ball over the trees,” Charles Tatom said. “So we learned to put a high arch on the ball. But when we went to play inside, like down at New Hope, all of our shots hit the ceiling.”

Juanita Bush was a cheerleader who cheered the leather-helmeted, gridiron warriors on to victory … or.

“We didn’t know a lot about football and we would do the wrong cheers,” Bush said, laughing.

As the Brundidge team was moving toward the goal line, their cheerleaders would yell, “Hold that line.” At times when the opposing team was on the march, the cheerleaders would yell, “Go for a touchdown … over there.”

Most all of the classmate remembered outhouses and Sears Roebuck catalogs and the benefits of that combination. They all remembered battery-powered radios and the enjoyment that came via the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

John Dorrill said that he, like many of his classmates, didn’t have many “conveniences.”

“It was 1947 before we got electric lights,” Dorrill said. “One light bulb hanging from the ceiling but it was magic.

There was not one among the classmates who didn’t remember the librarian, Ethel Smith, who would threaten to throw students out the window and sometimes did.

One time, “Miss’ Smith shook a girl until her glasses fell off,” John Long said, laughing.

An open window allowed the noise from the diesel engine trains to interrupt the daily lessons. The train station was a regular gathering place for the teenage girls who would smile, giggle and wave to the young soldiers hanging from the windows of the passing trains.

The high school girls were properly attired and “made up.”

“Back then girls took home economics,” said Magdeline Ellis King. “We learned everything from setting a table properly to good grooming. Our home ec teacher would look at the shape of our faces and tell us what would look good on us.

The classmates said that their class, the PCHS Class of 1948, was, as best they remember, the last to graduate on “the hill.”

Tatom confirmed that by saying that, after graduation, he worked on the new Main Street school building that was under construction.

All members of the Class of 1948 agreed that their class was one of the best to have ever graduated from Pike County High School.

“Of course, we might be a little prejudiced. But, after 65 years, we deserve to be!”