Scott High Class of '61--Classmates gathered in Madison for a 50-year reunion last fall. Present for the special event were, in front: James Linzia Hager, left, and George Edward Maynard, right. First row, from left: Joann Mullins Harmon, Linda Shelton Forinash, Bernice Jane Rice Canterbury, Glenda Hyer Styers, Donna Jean Ellis Mahan, Charlotte Brown Roe, Carolyn Hannah Mullins, Shirley Baisden Edmunds, Susie Cook Ball. Second row, from left: Diana Bunch Griffin Bunn, Nellie Byrd Parriott, Nancy Barker Wicker, Marian 'Babe' Jarvis Mullis, Joyce Meadows, Alice Ellis Gray, Becky Gullian Haley, Vera Smoot Taylor, Sally Church Adkins, Cloanna Stollings Gilliam, Siegel White, Peggy Javins Barker, Sandra Chandler Holstein, Janet Price Yeager. Third row, from left: Tom Marchensky, Charles Clements, Tommy Mullins, Donald Miller, Lewis Ellis, John Pinkerman, Charles 'Butch' Miller, Marsha Kay Ellis Watts. Fourth row, from left: Hugh Browning, Mike Dickens, Danny Joe Hill, Mike Barnhart, Paul Cooper, Paul Wills, Wallace Hatfield, Chester Miller, Ira Eugene Dolin, Doug Walls, Carl McClure. Not pictured are Otto Jarrell and Tony and Carolyn Jones Young.
In the fall of 1957, 248 freshmen began a four-year journey of educational and social learning the likes of which they had never experienced. It was the beginning of a new chapter in our life that would encourage us to reach new goals, and prepare us for the adult world we would soon enter. It was an exciting, yet anxious, time. And for some, it would be a journey they would not complete.
By the beginning of our second year, 220 classmates had survived the name 'greenhorn' as we became sophomores at Scott High School. By our junior year we had dwindled to 177; and the class of 1961 got even smaller as our final year began with 167 classmates.
On graduation day, May 18, 1961, with Governor Cecil Underwood giving the commencement address, 140 classmates had made it through the dreaded four years and proudly stepped across the stage to receive that coveted diploma. We had come a long way--academically, intellectually, and socially--and we believed if we put our best foot forward, what we had learned would help each one be successful as we prepared to reach new goals.
Maybe we didn't know it yet, but our four years at Scott High School would be a time that none of us would ever forget. As some headed off to college, others joined the Armed Forces, married, or became a part of the workforce. As we began our grown-up life, we also began reflecting on those never-to-be replaced years and were apprehensive about leaving our secure home and family and venturing into a world yet unknown.
Meeting for our 50th reunion last fall, we relived our high school memories once again when we gathered for this very special celebration. A committee of classmates had worked for months to plan what we hoped would be a memorable occasion, a once-in-a-lifetime event. The class of 1961 was, for the most part, a close knit group that met every five years, and sometimes annually, but the 50th get-together would have to be something to remember. All agreed we would have the reunion right here in our hometown of Madison and surrounding areas where we grew up and still meant so much to us.
Since this reunion was an important milestone in our life, all also agreed that we wanted to do something meaningful that would not benefit ourselves but would leave a lasting legacy from the Scott High School class of '61. It was suggested by fellow classmate John Pinkerman that the class of '61 begin a scholarship fund with a scholarship presented to a deserving Skyhawk graduate. (See related story.) John's suggestion was overwhelming approved by our classmates, and in the end over $3,000 had been donated, far exceeding our goal of $1,000, and making it possible to continue our scholarship project into future years.
The two days of reunion activities began with a social time at the VFW Memorial Building in Madison on Friday evening. Decorations reflected the '50's period and, of course, only '50's music was played. Seeing our classmates and reliving our time at Scott High where we spent four years together was indescribably precious and there was a smile on everyone's face as we talked about old times, old friends, and our families.
On Saturday, classmates gathered for a brunch at Park Avenue Restaurant in Danville, and following the brunch visited the Coal Heritage Museum in downtown Madison. Out-of-towners, as well as some local grads, had never toured the museum and were very impressed with the coal mining history that is being preserved there.
Back to the VFW Memorial Building that evening, it was time for a class photo followed by a sit-down dinner, but before dinner began, one of the most memorial events of the reunion occurred when a memorial service was held to remember our 35 deceased classmates. A candle was lit in memory of each one, and a classmate gave some remembrance comments of each. This was followed by a short, but inspiring message and prayer by Rev. Richard Mahan, the husband of classmate Donna Jean Ellis Mahan.
As the reunion continued and we reflected on the past five decades, everyone agreed that the years had passed far too quickly. During those years we began (and ended) careers, married, raised children, enjoyed and/or are enjoying grandchildren, and for a few, great grandchildren. Nearly all have retired from a successful career, and everyone said they are enjoying this 'leisure time' in their life. In reading the information sent in for a special program book, it was amazing that, with few exceptions, everyone seemed pleased with how their life has turned out, adding "life is good." Most every '61 graduate has been successful, and contributed their success to their parents, and to their high school teachers. Our class motto was, "If There Isn't a Way, Make One," and apparently we have done just that.
Looking back to our high school days we reminisced about those teachers who had a special affect on our life, outstanding events, and social times we shared at Scott High. We talked about news events, fads, entertainment, and the economic status of families 50 years ago, and much more.
The 50-year class reunion of the Scott High class of 1961 was a great success and everyone had much fun during the two-days of activity. Attendance was impressive. Tommy Mullins, who chaired the planning committee, was very pleased with the number who attended. Of the 105 living classmates invited, 50 attended. "This is unheard of from any other class," Mullins said. "We had almost 50 percent of the living classmates return for the reunion."
They came from Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, to name a few states, as well as many parts of West Virginia for this special occasion. The total for Saturday evening's banquet was 85.
Plans are already underway for a mini-reunion this year, and will be held at the Danville Nutrition Center on Lick Creek Road on Saturday, September 15.
Some highlights of 1961 are: President Kennedy establishes the Peace Corp, Soviets build a wall dividing East and West Berlin, Cuban exiles fail in their attempt to invade Cuba through the Bay of Pigs--President Kennedy accepts responsibility; 'Freedom Riders' travel throughout the South to promote integration; Commander Alan Shephard, Jr. becomes the first American in space, followed by Virgil Grissom.
We danced to Chubby Checker's 'The Twist', enjoyed hit movies Breakfast at Tiffany's, West Side Story, The Hustler, and Judgment at Nuremburg.
We sang along with hit songs like Moon River, Where the Boys Are, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, the Lion Sleeps Tonight, Bob Dylan's hit Blowin' in the Wind, Elvis' Can't Help Falling in Love With You, and Jimmie Dean's Big, Bad John.
Coffeemate, Total, and Cream of Wheat were all introduced in 1961, and Frito corn chips appeared.
The electric toothbrush made brushing easier, Kodachrome II film was invented, and Barbie got a new boyfriend when the Ken doll was introduced.
In 1961, an average three-bedroom house cost $13,825; the average income was $5,737; a new Ford cost $2,528; gasoline was 31 cents a gallon, and the minimum wage was $1.25.
Were they really the "good old days," or just good memories?