1957 was a heck of a year. Whammo introduced the Frisbee in 1957, and beaches haven't been the same since. Ed Sullivan was still censoring Elvis from the waist down, which didn't stop "The King" from buying a Memphis mansion called "Graceland." Dr. Seuss wrote "Cat in the Hat," and Julie Andrews starred in a made-for-television musical version of Cinderella. Half-way around the world Sputnik launched the Soviets into the space age, and in Arkansas, Gov. Orville Faubus was leading the fight to keep Little Rock Central High in the Dark Ages. The Milwaukee Braves won the World Series over the New York Yankees, and in Covington, Ga., some of the finest people in the whole long history of the world graduated from Newton County High School.
I know because James T. Milligan invited me to have breakfast with that distinguished class out at the Oaks Golf Course a couple of weeks ago.
I was 5 years old in 1957. I graduated from Newton High in 1970. To my knowledge my class has had two reunions in the 39 years since we walked across the stage in the Death Valley gym and received our diplomas from Mr. Homer Sharp.
The Class of '57 has a reunion every quarter. That's four times a year, y'all. That's really something.
I am not 100 percent positive that Jay Milligan actually graduated from Newton County High School in 1957, but because he married so well the class lets him hang out with them anyway. I do know that Milligan graduated from Marine Corps basic training at Paris Island, S.C. at some point during the '50s and that makes him a hero in my book no matter when or where he got his high school diploma. And I appreciated him inviting me to his group's gathering.
I think the main reason he asked me was because Deanna Anglin was going to be there. Miss Anglin was one of my ninth-grade teachers and was one of the sweetest - and prettiest - teachers I ever had the pleasure of pestering for an entire term. I must have overdone it because I learned at the breakfast reunion that she left the classroom after that one year.
Heck of a thing. She helped inspire me to be a teacher, and I helped inspire her not to be.
Deanna didn't graduate from Newton High in 1957, but her husband Kent did. I was totally oblivious to that fact for a long time. Kent was a pastor in Oxford when I was in high school and I still remember some of the funny stories he shared when Mr. Burke invited him to address the Hi-Y club.
Lee Aldridge was part of that class, too. I have known that for a while but never realized, back when I was in school, that Mrs. A was a local girl. High School students have always had a problem understanding that their teachers weren't born in front of a classroom with chalk dust all over their clothes. I guess I just never pictured Mrs. A going to high school anywhere, much less at the same school where she would teach for 112 years.
Margaret Holifield Autry, one of my dearest friends in the whole world, was a class member and I bet she was one of the nicest and most beautiful girls in school - and she is just as nice and just as beautiful today.
I learned at that breakfast that Walter Pope graduated from Newton High in 1957, too. I never knew that. Walter was the leader of my Cub Scout pack when I was growing up in Porterdale, and my family bought most of the medicine we ever bought from him and Dick Belair at Standard Pharmacy. Now Walter works with my daughter, from time to time, at Conyers Pharmacy and his daughter Sherri, who is a doctor, employs my wife. Talk about a small world.
Dr. Joe Sharp, one of my former principal's sons, was in attendance. I wanted to ask him what it was like having your father as your principal but didn't get around to it. I hate to start naming names because I can't mention everybody, but Basil Rigney was in attendance. Basil coached the Blue Rambler Band when I was in school and trust me, "coached" is the appropriate word. I was scared to death of him back then but later had the chance to work on the same faculty with him at Clarkston High. I think his wife was a part of the class.
I had no idea that Frank Turner was in the Class of '57, either, but enjoyed seeing him, even if he did make me get up and give an impromptu speech. Two of my favorite members of the class weren't even there - Sam Ramsey and Marshall Edwards. I am sure Marshall had a good excuse. He was probably sharing the Gospel with thousands of hungry souls somewhere. I bet Sam was on the Square selling furniture, though, and am going to have to speak to him about his priorities.
There were lots of other good folks there, too. Maybe I'll get a chance to mention them after our next meeting, in January.
Yes, I said "our." If Jay Milligan can be an honorary member, I can, too. Besides, the grits at The Oaks are really tasty.