COLUMN: Remember When: AHS Class of 1948 Memolusia forgotten story

Published 1:00 pm Friday, February 23, 2024

A 1948 Memolusia that was donated to the Andalusia High School Heritage Room recently caught my attention. As I thumbed through the yearbook, a certain picture was of great interest to me having never heard of a “continuation” class.

The Andalusia High School Heritage Room was established by Joseph Cecil Wingard and the Class of 1948 in 2002.

I was reminded that the AHS Scholarship Foundation was established by the Class of 1948 in 1992. It was originally known as the Class of 1948 Foundation but with growing participation by other graduated classes, the foundation name was changed in 2015. The Foundation Board of Trustees chaired by Class of 1948 alumnus, W. Robert Brown, appointed a Scholarship Committee in 1993 to select recipients, deserving students, as funding allowed. This committee was first chaired by Dr. Allen Jones, Professor Emeritus, Auburn University, Class of 1948 alumnus.

Also established in 2002 by the Class of 1948 and Joseph Cecil Wingard, AHS English teacher who retired after 39 years, was the AHS Heritage Room to preserve school history and tradition. Suan Riley Salter, Class of 1948 alumna, served as the fundraising chairman. Suan along with Esther Jacobs Barrow, wife of Class of 1948 classmate Benny Barrow, were helpful in the set-up of the room along with Mr. Wingard. Mrs. Barrow who attended Judson College and the University of Alabama had taken courses in archival studies. Blake Barton, former AHS student, Class of 2002, also played an important role. These four people received much support from Principals Pete Kelley and later Dr. Daniel Shakespeare.

According to Mrs. Salter in a personal interview, “The project to convert a classroom in “old main” to a Heritage Room was funded by local citizens, local businesses, retired teachers, and great supporter Houston Attorney Bob Brown, Class of 1948, who was shown in the ’48 Memolusia as Bobby Brown, Class Vice-President.”

This plaque hangs in the entrance hall at Andalusia High School and lists the names of students who served in World War II.

Beverly O’Neal assisted with ordering and installing window blinds. Cabinets for storage were built by the school maintenance crew headed up by Keith Hines. Ray Phillips. master cabinet man, assisted. Memorabilia was furnished in part by Mr. Wingard from his personal collection. School board pictures were gathered from school files in the superintendent’s office and family members. Mr. Brown stepped in all along to furnish whatever was needed including filing cabinets and other display shelving. He was the silent provider of needed financial support as the project progressed to completion. Many hours were spent creating scrapbooks and soliciting treasures of school history.”

Significant items to remember those golden school days continue to be donated such as football, cheerleader, and band uniforms. Alumni visit the Heritage Room on Homecoming and on other occasions.

All of the above information is introductory in nature to tell you readers what information was found in the 1948 Memolusia and what many citizens today may not be aware of.

A page was dedicated to “The General Continuation Class.” The caption reads, “Established in January 1946 to give former members of the armed forces an opportunity to complete their high school education. Since that time, twenty-one have graduated from the Andalusia High School.”

Thirteen of these young men were shown in the picture. “First Row – Pete Lowe, Bob Berry, Grady Vann, Warren Gooch, Mack Helms, Roy Brook; Second Row – Bibb Burdick, James Mock, Hinton Boggan, Green Harrell, Leroy Davis, Wade Knight, Julian Johnson, and Edgar Burks.

Those young men were not smiling like other students shown in the pages of the yearbook but were very serious in appearance. If we could interview them today, there is no telling what war stories those veterans could tell – where they had been stationed and what experiences they had in serving their country. It is certain that they were determined to get their high school educations and diplomas once they returned home.

Mrs. Salter remembered that Mrs. Evelyn Buntin was their teacher. She was the wife of the Diversified Occupations faculty member, W. B. Buntin.

Veterans who had returned to high school after the war featured in the 1947 yearbook included Donald Cook, Gerald Lunsford, Deso Maddox, Max Jay, John Morgan, Marlin Davis, Jimmy Sasser, Athey Prestwood, Hollie White, Durwood Bass, Winfred Lowe, John McFerrin, and Clayton McLeod.

This story is one that we need to pass along to the young people of today, students in high school. We will Remember When times were like this in those post-war years right here in hometown Andalusia. Those boys were eager to get their educations that they had missed when probably being drafted to serve in the armed forces. I wish we could find just one of them still living today that could be interviewed with their own story. I think I will copy this page from the Memolusia, frame it, and hang it in the Heritage Room lest we forget how this group of boys certainly knew the importance of an education and realized at the time how their future success depended upon a high school diploma. God bless them all.

A plaque hangs today on the west wall in the entrance hall at AHS with the names of all of the students who served in World War II. A star by some of the names signifies those who didn’t make it back home. It is worth a visit to the high school to view this plaque.

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, former choral music teacher (K-12) and local real estate broker is a long-time member of the Covington Historical Society and the Covington Veterans Foundation. She can be reached at suebwilson47@gmail.com.