Darrell Williams: 70 years of memories

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 25, 2012

By Darrell Williams
For the Salisbury Post
In the beginning, we were 45 in all. Back then, a nice-sized class. A large family, really. When we met again last weekend, however, we added up to 12. Time had taken its toll.
“We” were the Granite Quarry High School Class of 1942, and we were celebrating our 70th anniversary. The place was Union Lutheran Church near Salisbury. Twenty in all, counting spouses.
We met at 4 and chatted. We walked across the planks of time, about like we walked across the old wooden stage at GQHS.
All of us didn’t walk, however. One was in a wheelchair, others with canes. Others held on to someone else’s elbow.
Back then, our footsteps echoed to the endearing sounds of Pomp and Circumstance, and we marched off the stage into one of the biggest question marks of our lives. That was a war year, and the gears were just beginning to grind.
We said goodbye to each other like brothers and sisters going off to war, for that’s what many of us were doing. Eventually, that horrible necessity touched practically every life in the class of ’42.
We went and we fought and we came home. The lucky ones. Those who were not lucky fell on some foreign shore and never rose to go home again, never lived to return to a high school reunion.
But this was a September Saturday evening 70 years later, and it was a time to look at your old classmates and lie just a little: “Why Roy Bernhardt, you haven’t changed a bit!”
Well, he had, and he pointed his cane to prove it.
The fact is that he used the same cane as a baton to lead the group in the Granite Pep Song, aided and abetted by classmate Grover Miller.
Unusual? Yeah, I’d say we were unusual. Like the last of the orange flamingos.
We were there, however, and 90 percent of our class was not. Most of them had passed on. We were the remainder.
We were the Granite Quarry High School Class of 1942, and we were there to celebrate our 70th anniversary. Most of us were in our mid-to-late 80s.
We were 18 in attendance, counting spouses. We had one in a wheelchair and several with canes. Others were drivers. Our secretary drove in from Cary near Raleigh.
We chatted for the first hour, got caught-up. Someone had brought a copy of “The Granite Chips,” the school’s annual, which, incidentally, was begun by our class.
A program committee had met six weeks earlier and laid plans for the reunion. At that time, it was suggested that perhaps this should be the last reunion, that we simply were getting too old for the effort. The vote was unanimous to suggest this to the full group.
The full group didn’t like the idea, however, and with a strong voice suggested that we have another reunion next September, and decide then about another one. Optimism prevailed.
When it came time to pay for the meal, it was revealed that the nieces of Class Member Clara Myers Rogers had shopped and bought and prepared the meal, “as a tribute to the class of ’42.”
The nieces were asked to come in and take a bow as hands clapped and cheers rang out.
Next September.
Put it down.