Straughn High Class of 1958 celebrates 50 year reunion

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2008

As they traditionally do, the Straughn High School Class of 1958 held their 50th anniversary reunion in Andalusia on the weekend before Labor Day. A group of the classmates and spouses met in the library of the fairly new Straughn High School building on Friday morning, August 29. After a period of visitation and refreshments, Straughn Principal Shannon Driver led them on a tour of the facilities. There was further visiting and activities during the afternoon and evening, and the main event was the luncheon on Saturday at David’s Catfish House. This was the first official class gathering since the celebration of their 45th anniversary in 2003.

Following a welcome by Curtis Thomasson, senior class president, and an invocation by Ed Ganus, local minister, the group of 22 classmates and most of the spouses enjoyed a delicious meal with much “chattering.” The front of the room held a display of class pictures and memorabilia. An arrangement of nine pink carnations, the class’s chosen flower, one representing each of the nine class members who have been lost to death, adorned the center of the display.

The most recent classmate to be lost was Thad Ray Straughn of the Andalusia area. Others lost in past years include the following: Gail Sharpe Odom, Andalusia; Faye Jones Chaney, Ft. Walton Beach; Earl Blocker, Pensacola; Sarah Helms Posey, Pensacola; Pat Griggs Echols, Andalusia; Jimmy Ham, Andalusia; Walter Johns, Andalusia; and Donald Gibbons, Anoka, Minnesota. The class also missed two of their senior teachers, Mrs. Rubie Gantt and Miss Gertrude Powell, who have attended most of the last reunions before their deaths during the last five years.

Following the meal, the program began with a class folder of either black or gold cover, the school colors, being given to each classmate. The contents included a group graduation picture of the class, two activity sheets asking questions related to the class’s school days, and a complete roster of the class with current contact information on each classmate along with the number of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of each.

Special recognitions included the following: Classmate who has been married the longest—Irone (Goodson) and Rex Kilpatrick, 51 years; one with the most descendants—Carlton Cassady with 20, which included two great grandchildren; one who had traveled the farthest—Ray Jones of Jacksonville, Florida. The group found it too difficult to determine which classmate had changed the least or the most at this point. There was a significant amount of gray hair, but there did not seem to be a loss of much hair. Of course, no one wanted to mention who had gained the most weight.

As the class roll was called, each classmate spoke and shared some of their past and what is happening in their life at this time. While most are around 68 years of age and retired, several continue to work in various fields. Many are enjoying retirement, especially to visit and enjoy their children and grandchildren. Several have been able to move home or near their childhood home to enjoy their retirement years.

An appeal was made for everyone to support Straughn School’s Heritage Collection, which is maintained in the Middle School Library. Two classmates, Wanda Ward Davis and Glenda Wood serve on the committee from the Straughn Community Club, which initiated and promotes this project. Anyone who has items or information related to the school’s history that could be copied or donated for the collection is urged to contact one of the above or Allison Thomasson, the middle school librarian. This class has made several memorial gifts in honor of deceased classmates and teachers.

This Class of 1958 has gathered for reunions every five years and always enjoys the fellowship and reminiscing of their childhood, especially as it relates to school. A number of these alumni began their education at Straughn School in 1946, and most of the others began the same year at Rose Hill School or Sanford School, the two primary feeder-schools for Straughn. They were the last class to be graduated in the former brick veneer building, which burned in 1959. Their high school years were spent in the prime of the 1950’s culture, and they thoroughly enjoyed this period of their lives. Sleepy’s Place at Dunn’s Bridge and The Idle Hour on Sanford Road were popular “hang-outs” for this crowd. It is no wonder that the class chose “Let the Good Times Roll” as their informal motto, while their academic one was “Success Awaits at Labor’s Gates.”

Several of this class continued their education and training beyond high school and all have been active citizens within their respective communities. While no one has achieved world fame, all have achieved at least some measure of success in their respective fields of work. It was a pleasure to recognize Roger Moody’s wife, Kaye, at the reunion who was recently elected to the office of Mayor of the Town of Dozier. Indeed, this class continues to be a positive influence in the area.

Those classmates who were able to attend are shown in the accompanying picture. Others who were unable to be present include Ferrell Bryan, Athens; Nancy (Carter) Jackson, Andalusia; Carlton Cassady, Mesquite, Texas; Haniel Croft, Monroeville; Ann (Hicks) Castleberry, Montgomery; Bobby Johns, Dozier; Andy Kilpatrick, Ramer; Charlotte (Mathews) Willis, Crestview; Ina Ruth (Register) Miller, Milton; and James Watson, Mobile.

The writer of this story, Curtis Thomasson, may be contacted at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or Email: