As you know, at least my “faithful followers” do, that my family moved back to
in the summer of 1962. I had finished my sophomore year in Harriman, Tennessee . Soon after, my dad came home to inform us that he had found a job at the Bull Run Steam Plant near Florence, Alabama . Dad was an electrician and mostly followed the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) power plant construction work throughout the Southeast. Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Since we had lived in Harriman some 7 years earlier, he wanted us to again live there, giving him about a 25-mile one-way commute.
That summer, before school started, I spent time in Bennie Lowery’s basement, bashing model cars together. He was the only friend I had yet to make in the South Harriman area. I would not see old friends, nor make any new friends, until my junior year began at
. South Harriman High School
South Harriman and the City of
Harriman are separated by the , connected by two bridges. When we first lived in Harriman, there was only one. So, South Harriman had its own school system, and because of where we settled, in the Emory River Pine Hills area, that’s where I attended school. There was also no tuition, which made it more attractive to my father, making less than $10K/yr at the time.
I finished the first grade in the Harriman school system, attending Harriman Elementary. However, my second grade year found me at Walnut Hill Elementary, located on the east side of Harriman. I finished the second and third grades there.
For some reason, I was back at Harriman Elementary for the fourth grade, but only finished half the year there. My family moved to
where I finished my forth year of school. The rest of the other eight schools I attended, over my first 12 years of education, have been outlined in this blog, so I will not go back into that explanation. Indiana
I write all this to point out that I made friends on the Harriman side of the
during those three and a half years. Coming back to Harriman, and registering at South Harriman, meant that I would again see a few of those earlier friends who had moved across the river, and begin making new ones. Emory River
By the end of my sophomore year, it was announced that South Harriman and
would consolidate into one building in Harriman. This was very painful for us, as well as the South Harriman community, because of school pride and an intense past athletic rivalry in both basketball and football. Gone would be the Harriman City Schools and White, and the Pirate mascot we had be loved. We would have to learn to like Blue and White and become Blue Devils! Orange
The first day of school was traumatic for most, and the authorities were very anxious about that first gathering of the formerly separate and proud student bodies in the Harriman Auditorium. Principal George Ballard welcomed us, “our friends from across the river” to Harriman. A mummer rose from the South Harriman students, as we looked at each other in disbelief – was that any way to start building a bond among his students? To us it was saying, “from across the tracks” with the connotations such a statement normally carries.
The consolidation was perhaps less traumatic to me, because I again saw the Harriman and Walnut Hill “kids” I had gone to school with earlier. Most remembered me as well and I began to feel comfortable sooner than some.
Through only a few rough weeks, the Class of 1964 emerged consolidated and dedicated to each other. We began with a 10-year reunion cycle and voted on that first occasion that we just had to see each other every 5 years. So, this weekend began Friday evening with a warm-up pool-side party at Kay and Bob Culton’s home.
It was a casual time to gear up emotionally for the 45th year reunion party on Saturday. The warm-up was just the beginning of the fun we had and it carried over into Saturday evening, not ending until about midnight.
It was decided, what with our advancing age and the plain fact that we love and care for one another, that we would begin meeting every 3 years!
However, those of us still living in the Harriman area will strive to each other a few times each year. We all have grand and great-grandkids, so schedules will have to be worked out carefully.
The bond we forged in that one school year is very strong and we just hope we will have many more opportunities to gather as the Class of ’64 – best damn class ever to graduate from Harriman or South Harriman! Maybe anywhere…’cause we’re sixties kind of people!
UPDATE: Here's Morgan Alred's (second from right) Official Class Reunion photo. I'm in the left arch!
Also, don't forget to click on these to make them larger, and you can go HERE to see more photos of the reunion!