Remember When: Whatever happened to the Class of ‘65?
Published 4:30 pm Friday, June 24, 2022
You can call this a sequel if you wish. Since I heard from friends and classmates from all over regarding the last column about memories of yesterday, I promise to stir up a few cobwebs in the minds of some of you as I attempt to tell of a time that seems like yesterday but was over 50 years ago. Can that really be?
When my AHS Class of 1965 classmates left school, girls were still wearing dresses to school. It was not until about 1970-71 when I was a K-12 music teacher that we were given the go-ahead to wear “pant suits” to school. Talking about “FREEDOM!”
Remember, we were the teenagers of the 1960s that were singing folk songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “If I Had a Hammer” in hootenannies all over South Alabama. We can’t forget “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Cruel War.” Yes, we had boyfriends and classmates called away into the basic training in the service, then some to Vietnam. “Soldier Boy” was a hit on the Big Bam radio. At our 10th class reunion, we saw the results of what that experience did to the cutest guys. I choose to remember how they looked and acted at that last senior float site when youth and innocence pervaded the scene. We have always been proud of the ones who made it back. Our appreciation is deep.
There was even a television show that aired for a couple of seasons called, “Whatever Happened to the Class of ’65?” Each week featured the story of a young man or a young woman who chose a path not expected. Our bunch was no different than that show.
One girlfriend went to Yellowstone. Her father almost insisted that she return because of the bears! I think she really wanted to join the Peace Corp but she eventually became college bound. One headed to Birmingham to nursing school. One went to Huntingdon to art school, and others to college at Montevallo, AU, and U of A to be elementary and secondary teachers, because their high school days were fruitful with the love of so many teachers who challenged those students and who kind of set the stage.
At least four class members carried their passion of teaching English Grammar and Literature on to a career thanks to Miss Clyde Simmons, Miss Annalee Simmons, Miss Ellen Barrow, Miss Patricia Seymour, and Mrs. Arlene Nettles. (Hope they aren’t grading this column!) One became a kindergarten teacher since her mother had been. She had always adored school rooms, blackboards, storytelling, colorful chairs, nap cots, rhythm bands, and the precious faces of little people who soaked up her enthusiasm. One became executive director of an arts program in a big city that promoted and encouraged the values of music education in the public schools. One became a choral director in her alma mater. One became a librarian in our nation’s capital. Two followed their mom’s field of social work. One owned and operated a flower shop and helped run a cattle ranch out west. One became a religious song writer for her Catholic Church.
One aspired to be a writer as an independent spirit of the times, but she was taken too soon by cancer. Another creative classmate became owner/editor of a New Orleans magazine. She had so many opportunities for interviewing jazz musicians, it led to an intense study of jazz music history with a rare college doctorate degree she earned and then a professorship at the University of New Orleans. More than one became “mothers of sons (and daughters)” because yes, “hell is homespun!” That is a quote from a folk song of the day called, “Womenfolk.”
The guys – well, some ended up in the national guard awaiting other military calls in spite of their WWII veteran fathers telling them, “This is not the right kind of war you want to be involved in. It is too political.” One became a Huntsville rocket engineer. One became a nuclear theoretical physicist that traveled the world on lecture circuits and met the Pope. One became a car dealership owner following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. One became a bank loan officer since he admired his high school and college math teacher so much (the same one from 7th grade at AHS through 4th year college at Troy University)! At least two of the guys became college administrators since they alternated back and forth being president of the class or president of the SGA and were born to be leaders of students.
One became a stock broker in Atlanta. One “peddled” vegetables at a large city farmer’s market in a big way and shared his success with generosity in extraordinary ways. One flourished in the antiques and stained glass market. His hobby became a business. One became a textile engineer. Several became school principals and one even a school superintendent following in the extraordinary role models of their Principal James Arthur Wilson and Superintendent Oscar Zeanah. One became a lawyer and then that led to his becoming hometown mayor. At least two of the guys became dentists because they got caught up watching the pretty girls with the braces on their teeth, and thought it would be an interesting profession! One became an emergency room doctor and another, an internist/pediatrician thanks to the top-notch biology and science teachers in the school. Also, one male nurse came out of the group. His home health skills were a plus for his hometown.
One multi-talented classmate started out in church music as a minister of music and accompanist but ended up in the legal profession. If anyone ended up in the coaching profession, I have not been made aware of that even though Coach Ross, Coach Waller, and Coach Searcy probably instilled qualities in all of the boys which helped them to be good daddy-coaches. After all, their Little League and Babe Ruth teams both went to the state tournaments.
Let me apologize ahead of time for not highlighting every class member, but these are the ones that came to mind and that I knew about.
All of these “Class of 65ers” or “baby boomers” loved to come back home for AHS Homecoming events. Even as 6th graders when the costumers left a dress-up “beatnik” birthday party around 1959 to descend upon a tent meeting revival on the edge of town, their parents expressed these remarks, “We just don’t know what this class is going to become! They may be one of the wildest.” How could we disappoint them?
Rest assured, readers, that even today, these lively and productive class members have influenced many far and wide. A number of them reside in the fair city of Andalusia where they keep the town rocking (Move over Chubby Checker!) by participating in a myriad of community events, being a part of civic clubs, operating local businesses, establishing homes and neighborhoods, raising families, contributing to worthy causes, preserving the past while looking to the future, and worshipping the Lord who bestowed life, opportunity, and purpose to this generation in the years after they entered the world right after World War II.
“What Ever Happened to the Class of ’65?” Now you know, and you can always Remember When that group came along. Yes, their class song was “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” – and they did and still do.
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.