On Friday night I did the high school class reunion thing. But not with members of my own class, but rather the Hattiesburg High School Class of 1959, which graduated four years before I was born (sorry about that class members).
This was the last class to graduate at the old HHS building on Main Street. And what a coincidence the first day of their reunion weekend fell on the same day as the groundbreaking for the renovation of the old school into new affordable senior living apartments, Preservation Crossing.
Several members of the class who live in town or who had come in early for the festivities were in attendance and recognized by Mayor Toby Barker during the ceremony.
I’ve been a friend of the class since I wrote a story about the group about five years ago. We’ve reminisced about their days at the three-story structure on more than one occasion.
After the shovels held by dignitaries heaved the first bits of soil, class members had their photo made with Barker and developer Steve Nail of the Intervest Corporation. They were stars of the day, and rightly so.
But there is something special about this class. For those classmates who are able, they gather monthly at a local restaurant to eat together and fellowship. Some months there may be six or seven, while other months find 15 or so gathered.
Class member Jimmie Pace said they got tired of only seeing each other at the funeral home and decided to start getting together on a regular basis. She has been my link to the class.
When a classmate dies, a white cross is placed beside his or her photo on the framed composite which hangs on the first floor outside the Hattiesburg Historical Society offices in the Hattiesburg Cultural Center. Pace takes care of that. Of the roughly 226 members of the class, 83 have passed away, as best they can tell. And when a classmate dies they also contribute to have a magnolia tree planted somewhere in Hattiesburg by Keep Mississippi Beautiful. It was such a good idea that I suggested it to my high school classmates and we’ve started doing that also.
On Friday night, I gathered with the class at the party barn of Marty and Earl Bernhardt in Petal. Marty is a member of the class. I was official with my very own nametag. I had a wonderful time, as did they. I watched them dance to the oldies they remembered, listened to them reminisce of days gone by and tell crazy stories, while I asked questions as they talked about places I wasn’t sure of – Lake Shady, Emile’s, etc. I was with them until 10 p.m. before heading home. They were still going strong. Before I left they invited me to the next night’s activities at another local classmate’s house.
I seriously thought about going but got busy doing work around the house and was worried about getting out in the bad weather. They were going to be doing karaoke, which I hate I missed. But I know they had a wonderful time, as always.
I admit, I always enjoy being around them and always have a good time. Maybe I’m a not-so-old soul.
I’ve only been to one of my class reunions – the very first one at 10 years, which was 28 years ago. It’s amazing that classmates travel from as far away as California, Maryland, North Carolina and Florida for the big reunions held every five years, when there are classmates right here in the Hub City they can’t get to attend. If those folks only knew what they were missing.
We should all take a lesson from this class and get together more. We’d probably have fun.
Beth Bunch is managing editor of The PineBelt NEWS and Signature Magazine. She’s a member of the 1981 Amory High School graduating class. “We’re the best under the sun, Senior Class of 81!”