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Mack Williams: The 50th East Rowan Class of 1969 Reunion

Mack Williams

Our class reunion happened at Saint Matthew’s Lutheran Church’s Family Life Center on Octo. 19. I really can’t say “What happens at the 50th ERHS Class of 69 Reunion at Saint Matthew’s Lutheran Church stays at Saint Matthew’s Lutheran Church,” because the “Vegas” connotation doesn’t fit.

My son Jeremy and I attended. He drove, since I often drive like an old man.

We picked up my Granite Quarry 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Roselyn Misenheimer, at Trinity Oaks to reunite her with some former students (all would fill an auditorium!).
Crossing High Rock Lake, I thought of childhood fishing with my father, Bernard Williams, while wearing a belt and attached chain to keep me from falling in.

At the reunion, Mrs. Misenheimer was like the sun, former students revolving about her like planets. Her classroom represented a big portion of the universe for my Granite Quarry classmates and me in 1963-64.

That two-story building was later replaced by a single-story building, so, speaking “astronomically” again: her classroom became open space, filled with sunlight by day and starlight by night.

John Morgan contacted me about providing surprise mirth; so I resurrected “Hogan’s Heroes”’ Sergeant Schulz, summoning reunion committee members to the front (not the Eastern Front, but podium area) for recognition: Gwen and Jimmy Hudson, Bonnie Smith Hinson, Gail Waller Schwendinger, Sherry Taylor Kocsis, Alan Lyerly, Jane Jones Fesperman and husband Mike, Priscilla Ketchie Burton, Carolyn Holshouser Hess, Vernon Bernhardt, and Committee Chairman John Canup.
Our food smorgasbord also included that most important Rowan item: Barbecue!

Classmate, Rev. Dr. Jim McCoy gave marvelous, heartfelt comments and pre-dinner blessing.
John Morgan was a great emcee; and Chris Stiller combined his raffle numbers’ calling with the wittiest “stand-up” I’ve seen in a while.
A table contained “artifacts” — football programs, Rowan County Proclamation honoring East’s Conference win, John Morgan’s (No. 66) football jersey, band uniform without hat, etc. (if the hat were there, I might have pilfered it for a keepsake). There was a cheerleader’s sweater, and many reproduced pictures from our 1969 annual, including “old Williams” (or rather, “young Williams”) playing his Sousaphone.
Pictures were made with Rev. Johnny Cozart’s Ford Mustang (current, not 1969).
Introducing my son Jeremy, I enjoyed pointing to my 1969 senior picture i.d., saying: “See the resemblance!” (my “18-to-his-35” looks closer than my “68-to-his 35”).

A vacant chair with streamers consisting of passed-on classmates’ Senior yearbook pictures “reserved” a seat for them in our hearts. Even though I knew they’d grown older,seeing those young faces which I hadn’t seen since graduation almost made it seem like we’d lost them in their youth (one resembled Buddy Holly).

Those 38 faces in that single chair made me remember the medieval question:”How many angels can stand upon the head of a pin?”
Rev. Wayne Trexler, my Bible teacher for both Testaments, was there. His class was like an exciting Biblical archaeology dig.

I spoke with late biology teacher Jerry Peck’s wife about his particular genius.
Coach W.A. Cline’s 80th birthday was celebrated with song and cake. John Morgan rightly said: “He looks 50!” Even at 150, I think W.A would have that positive, 1960s aura of bright, “Endless Summer!” Conversing with him renewed my boyhood memories of being an “across-the-Old-Concord-Road neighbor!”

We talked of W.A’s boxer, “Bimbo,” won in a late night card game and left in the barn before heading back to Appalachian, phoning his parents afterwards, asking, “Please look after my dog!” We spoke of the late Coach Phil Harbinson’s “UFO hoax” (looking better than Ed Wood’s props!). Briefly, Rockwell became Roswell sort of).

W.A said someone still has that “interstellar vehicle.” And we talked about neighborhood kids fishing with my father at the old Saint Matthew’s Bridge, under the protection of him and his unique “water safety equipment.”

Arriving home, I looked at the reunion booklet, along with mint condition 1969 penny given each class member. I thought about finding a well-worn 1969 penny for comparison, but realized that looking in the mirror would do just as well.

Rain followed our heels (wheels) all the way home. The next evening, sunlight finally came “slanting” through the clouds. I thought, “Just 24 hours ago, I was attending the 50th Reunion of the East Rowan High School Class of 1969. It’s funny how time speeds up with age!”

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