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Mack Williams: ‘1969ers’

Mack Williams

Recently, Facebook posts about the up-and-coming 50th reunion of the East Rowan Senior High Class of 1969 started appearing, many with the name “John Morgan.”

John was an excellent football player at East. He did those things on the football field for which it was designed, while I just did “band “ (although it took some stamina to march around with a tuba while blowing into it at the same time).


Now, John was “carrying and running the ball” on Facebook to inform his old classmates about the celebration /reunion of their half-century mark (well, half-century as far as our high school graduation is concerned; most of us reached our personal “half-century” mark 18 years ago).

Many “historic” photos of classmates have been posted, along with TV shows, movies, and music which we enjoyed, as well as posts about the draft, and service in Vietnam. Nowadays, the number of beehives have declined; but in those old class photos there are “beehives a’plenty” (and “vintage honeys” too).

One post displayed 50-year-old tattoos’ appearances now; and I’ve seen something sort of like this before. It was when scientists on the National Geographic Channel took 5,000 year-old “Otzi” the Iceman out of his freezer briefly to decipher his tattoos. He had to be quickly put back in because things were becoming a little too “ripe!”

In a serious mentioning of death, particularly that of our principal, Mr. Thomas Joe Lyerly (March 23, 2018), I posted his Salisbury Post obituary on the East Rowan reunion’s web site. Mr. Lyerly was always a gentleman, proving that gentlemanliness knows no particular season or year.

I also posted some clips from “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in.” “TV English” influences us all; I must say that if I were to pronounce that show’s name as “Rowanne and Martin,” I would feel quite strange. But to we natives, the county is forever “Rowanne.”

In my posts on that website, I refer to us as “1969ers,” as I feel that just calling us “69ers” might sound a bit lewd.

In some of those postings, there are pictures of W.A. Cline, Phil Harbinson, Aaron Neely, and Gilbert Sprinkle. There have been many coaching greats, but these men were the first to impress the definition of that phrase upon my mind.

Some science fiction movies, just like we 1969ers, premiered in 1951. Among them:”The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “The Thing!” A lot of “1951 things” are still walking around, but not causing monster mayhem (and definitely not as much mayhem as back at East).

I lit up a cigar at graduation practice and at the time, being obsessed with Clark Gable, also reenacted, in class with a female classmate, that scene in “Gone With the Wind” (1939) where Rhett Butler puts his hands on both sides of Scarlett’s skull and says he’s going to squeeze thoughts of Ashley Wilkes out of her mind! (in a choice between labeling this as my female classmate’s “Me too” moment, or “Whatever,” I think “Whatever” fits best).

And being the baby boomers of the “Greatest Generation,” we watched such shows as “Combat” dedicated to their efforts in World War II. I think the late Vic Morrow’s most used word on that series, other than the articles “a,” “the,” and the conjunctions “and,” “or” and “but” was the word “KRAUT!”

Sadly, some of the East Rowan 1969ers have left us, but the Facebook pages of some remain intact, in a sort of a secure “e-memory” (“Lay up your treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, nor where thieves break through nor steal”). The Facebook reminder of their birthdays, more so than their unseen, far away tombstones, serves to remind us of them again.

A Facebook-posted 50th anniversary t-shirt is available for purchase, saying “East Rowan Senior High School Class of 1969.” Another should equally be offered, its message: ”It’s been 50 years, and I’m still alive

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