Rock Hill High School Class of 1961


 45th Year Reunion 
April 7-9, 2006


Our thanks to Dan and Priscilla Meares Sparks for the photographs.

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Friday - Dinner at Kinches and meeting back
 at our hospitality room. 
More pictures.

Saturday - Watkins Grill, our bus trip and our reunion banquet at Baxter Hood. 
More pictures

Sunday - A somber gathering to remember our departed classmates. More pictures

by Bennett Tarleton - 
Good turn out for all events, including friends from other classes (The Buffkin Girls, Sandra Willis, Judy Harris Bauer, Nancy (Arant) and Jim Bratton -- too many to name) plus our own First Timers like Carl Cornwell, Jerry Robinette, Pat McGinnis, Keith Carter, Bucky Watson, among others.  Plus Dorothy Amick (be sure to read her memory in the directory) and Frances Lloyd.  They no doubt wondered about the old saying:  A teacher never knows where his/her influence stops.  They may not want to be held responsible for us, but we take full credit for their great success as educators!  Everyone looked Fabulous, Darling, Just Fabulous -- some more than others, of course!  Much buzz around Esther Wolfe and Ken Burris -- looking mighty good indeed!

Someone said Friday night's event at Kinch's was perfect -- perfect place (just big enough for more than 100 of us), perfect weather, perfect comfort food (except for those of us at the end of the line!).  Much hooting and hollering!  And some good visiting at Wingate Inn afterwards.  (Wingate - good hotel, good location, etc.)

Our Salute to Our Student Bus Drivers on Saturday morning was just fine.  Thanks to Elaine Thomasson Baker and a terrific driver.  We had Jimmy Baber and a couple of real student bus drivers on board.  We saw Things That Did Not Exist ("new" RHHS and some other new schools) and Things That Are No Longer There (Krispy Kreme on Oakland, Bob Inn, Park Inn Grill, Dutch Mill, Ed's Grill, the cow stalls at Porters, our RHHS, some of Main Street, Midget Grill) and Things That Are There Still (Varsity Grill, Red's Grill, the old RHHS parking lot, Cactus Phillips' house on East Main, Billy Mitchell's bus route down Dunlap Roddey Road, much of downtown).  And then we ate World Famous Watkins Hot Dogs at the Varsity -- no change there -- Watkins has not lost ITS wiener!

The practice for the majorettes, cheerleaders, and Last Standing Members of the Marching Bearcat Band circa 1961 and the rehearsal for singers were triumphs of True Grit over Good Sense.  Thank goodness, we have not grown too old to reenact the sins of our youth!  Our motto:  "If you want professional entertainment, you'll have to pay for it!  Otherwise, it's us."  

Baxter Hood also perfect place -- great decorations by Joyce Short Simpson, Mary Joyce Harper Wright, Cathie Lamb Hamilton. We were in the Hoechst-Celanese Room. Let us say:  "Something borrowed is much better than something paid for!"  Food terrific -- Patsy Cook Wolfe and Billy Wolfe must have been cooking for weeks!  Billy welcomed the class and reminded us of why we elected him to so many offices.  Freddie Beckham offered a wonderfully appropriate poem and a prayer that proves again he has an extraordinary gift for religious/faith articulation. 

The "program" included The Mixed Doubles (a NEW singing group that needs some additional female voices for 2011) -- Sylvia Marett, Billie Lancaster, Betty Barrett, Jack Addison, Mike Baker, Michael Collins, Hoot Gibson, Bill Easley.  Later Mike did a trumpet solo and Michael sang "Younger Than Springtime."  John Robinson brought his own sense of humor to a sort of "Top Tunes Request Line."  And the cheerleaders cheered (Fay Maddox, Alice Summers, Linda Rose Ogburn, assisted by Linda Brindle in a Special Guest Appearance), the majorettes did the Emmett Scott strut plus "In the Mood" and "Moon Over Miami" (Linda Ellen Polk, Patsy Cook, Phyllis Gregory, Billie Lancaster) and the Band (Freddie Beckham on the drums -- mighty impressive -- and lots of brass) did those numbers plus "On You Bearcats."  

We also re-crowned Lloyd Hooper as King of Hearts and Linda Rose as May Day Queen...everyone got a Blue Horse just in case you meet up with Miss Gettys...Easley and Robinson got physical damage bills from Hotel Plymouth in NYC (band trip in 1959) and psychological damage bills from Bennett who roomed with them...

We remembered classmates and famous/ infamous people of our times whose "light" guided and shaped us...we celebrated Johnny Shillinglaw's 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 63rd birthdays, all of which occurred on April 8 in one year or another (Thanks to Grace Hutchinson for the cake! -- and for my gift of a fruit-laden little red wagon which I plan to save for my first grandchild).

Did I mention really great music from our DJs?  And lots of dancing -- some Old People showed they can still cut a rug, if not the mustard. After that, things got a little fuzzy.  Either I put my face into my birthday cake (Thanks, Mary Joyce, and Reunion Committee) or my beloved classmates smashed the cake into my face.  You will have to wait for the photos!

Know I have left out too many good moments and names of too many good people -- sorry.  My criterion for these reunions is simple:  Bennett, did you have a really good time?  And my answer is:  YES!  Hope you did, too.  If you were not with us, you missed the chance for your Big Laugh of 2006 (unless you come to OD in '06:  Get Some Kicks! -- see below).

On Sunday morning we gathered in Glencairne Gardens to remember deceased classmates.  Good stories -- funny and sad -- told and enjoyed.  Laughter, yes, because otherwise unending tears.  Very bonding.  Very healing.  And, again, Freddie's prayer for just right.  And Lloyd reminded us to hold hands which we did with glad and full hearts.

I do want to Salute the Reunion Committee who not only Give Good Reunion but Have Way Too Much Fun Giving It: Jack Addison, Mike Baker, Fred Beckham, Michael Collins, Patsy Cook Wolfe, Bill Easley, Phyllis Gregory Loftis, Martha Harmon Carpenter, Mary Joyce Harper Wright, Billy Hindman, Hoot Gibson, Kay Grant Martin, Grace Hutchinson Clark, Cathie Lamb Hamilton, Daisy Littlefield Miller, Fay Maddox Gibson, Linda Ellen Polk Grimes, John Robinson, Joyce Short Simpson, Bennett Tarleton, Billy Wolfe. If your name should be here:  Say so! 

If you think I do these reunions so I can show off all the trash I have saved over the years, you are wrong.  I do this because all you guys have a special place in my heart for the good times (and bad), for happy memories (and not) of my youth.  We can be kind.  We can take care of each other.  We are the greatest!

One last thing:  On the bus trip some of my classmates decided I should be rewarded for being so bossy about this and that and whatever re reunions.  They collected a pile of money for me to use as I wish.  I considered buying a lot of Powerball Tickets so we could have one helluva blowout in 2011.  Someone said there is a great new print available of our RHHS -- Does anyone know about this?  And I could hire a dump truck to come to my house and take away all this RHHS-related trash from the 1950s and 1960s -- to say nothing of my "stuff" from kindergarten and college, etc. 

Anyway, all very good thoughts, but what I would really like to do is contribute this gift towards the cost of having an historical marker placed at White Street/Spruce Street to honor RHHS (in the name of the Class of 1961).  Except for the remains of the steps up to the grounds on Spruce Street, nothing marks the place where we and thousands of others were "young and together."  Does anyone know who/what agency handles these things in RH?  Is Billy White still alive?  He's the Walking RHHS History Book.  I mentioned this to Bill Easley and Fay Maddox -- and gave them the assignment.  Delegate, delegate, delegate!  SO:  They/We will keep you posted about this.  In the meantime, the gift is deeply appreciated in a personal way but also it will be a legacy for future generations to know The Class of 1961 is the greatest and the memory of our RHHS "ever lingers with us."

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