Funerals bring back memories and the other day a close friend of mine died. He had the ideal death; he went to church, came home for lunch, sat down in lounge chair with the TV on and died. It just can't be better than that.
Here was a man who came into my business about every two weeks for 20, 30 or more years. We talked about years that have gone by or up-to-date things. You see, we have been knowing each other since a September day in 1940 when we started first grade in the little school building in Tallassee.
In those days the homerooms were in alphabetical order. For example, if your last name started with A up through H you were in Miss Finalson’s room, and I through R in another room and it stayed that way through the sixth grade. In the seventh grade it all got scrambled and stayed that way for the rest of our school years.
We all became close friends, not the go-to-your-house-and-eat-supper kind but the kind of friend that is there if you ever need them.
Even though they were scattered all over the place, these classmates have been in our hearts and we want to know about them and keep up with them. To start with it was I guess you know he got married but not to who we thought it would be. She went to nursing school and never came back.
I guess you heard she had a baby or they got a divorce, two or maybe three made preachers, one a foot doctor; quite a few stayed home and worked in the mill. The Class of 1952 kind of started out in different places but then wound up together.
The ones in East Tallassee went to grammar school there and then came to high school in the seventh grade. The schools at Friendship, Kent and Red Hill went through the eighth grade then came to Tallassee in the ninth grade. That is when we all got together as the Class of ’52.
Some dated classmates and some dated girls a year younger while some of the girls dated boys a year older. I can remember some of our achievements from the first grade through school — things like tying our shoes, snapping our fingers, learning to whistle, playing under the house, meeting at the picture show, swimming and spin the bottle. It was all a learning experience and we were not satisfied until everyone could do it.
As we got older there was Korea and some of the boys who met the age requirements left school and went there. Many stayed in the guard and were involved in the Vietnam War. Even though we had reached our 50s, quite a few of us went to Desert Storm and Iraq. I don't know if any stayed single or not but I think they did. I do know too many died young. As we went to school we discovered which families had money and it was mostly the ones that had one or two children.
My family for instance had six children, Mama, Daddy, two granddaddys living in one house and most of the time and uncle or cousin. Daddy never turned anyone away. Then there were the teachers’ pets. Oh, yes, we had them back in those days and they stood out like a sore thumb. As the teacher stood before the class and talked, she would bring out the dreams in us.
I never dreamed I would be a barber or sign painter but I did. I developed a love for the military and served 27 years in active service and National Guard combined. When I get in touch with different classmates, I talk to them about all the thoughts, dreams and disappointments — sure, we had disappointments.
Some failed marriages, never got the job they sought or if they did it wasn't what they thought it would be; problems with their children, failed businesses, big dreams that didn't work out. I sat down and tried to figure it all out but there were quite a few I couldn't find. Gene Langford and I try to keep up and I know we have had 29 boys to die and 28 girls to die for a total of 57 deaths out of the class and there are a few who have got themselves lost. That is why I said the totals may not be accurate.
As I think back to those days and these classmates, memories flood my mind and at times I will cry when I think of the Class of ’52 and their dreams.