Seated left to right - Patsy Hughes Oldroyd ¹65, Linda Taylor ¹64, Barbara
Wilkerson Donnelly ¹64
Standing left to right - Sarajane Steigerwald Tarter ¹65, Judy Fedrowisch
Kinkaid ¹66, Jennifer Brown DeMarcus ¹66
“50+ Years and Still Going Strong”
By Barbara Wilkerson Donnelly
Friendship. A simple word, really – yet it is one of the most powerful words in the English language, or in any language, for that matter. I have been privileged throughout my life to call a great group of people my friends. I refer here to all of my Fami-LEE – those of you whom I knew at Lee High School, as well as those with whom I have connected since graduation.
One of my friends in South Carolina, noting that several of us often get together to have lunch, remarked that I should write an article about these unique friendships that so many of us share. I didn’t give it much thought at first, but then in retrospect, I realize that I might have been taking these friendships for granted. Because I lived it, I didn’t recognize just how unusual and special they really were until some reflection occurred. I started talking to other friends who had attended other schools about their high school friendships and found that that was exactly what their friendships were – friendships from high school! Some of them could barely remember the last name of their best friend. I do, of course, realize that as we age, our memories tend to do strange things. I know for a fact that some days I’m just not hitting on all cylinders! However, most of your names are readily recognizable to me, and those of you who were closer friends have remained so throughout the years, even if our paths sometimes diverged. During my talk with others about friendship, nowhere did I encounter friendships which have encompassed 50+ years.
Our friendships are relatively easy to trace. After starting out as friends at Lee, we graduated, married and had children. Some of us divorced. Others lost spouses and children. We have been there for each other throughout these events and through all the fun times in between. We’ve liked each other so much, people, that we hold reunions every 5 years just to get together. And there are also the mini-reunions. How many schools can you name that do the same? Many of us who only spoke in study hall or P. E. classes have become fast friends through the years, in large part due to the efforts of the organizers of our reunions.
We have been fortunate that so many of us still live in the Huntsville area or that we can easily make the drive to Huntsville. I have been lucky enough to have a small group of very close friends who have met regularly for the past few years. What started out as an “annual” luncheon has now escalated to “Annual Luncheon Number 9” in 2 years and 1 month! We have frequented many of the numerousrestaurants in Huntsville. However, the days that stand out in my mind are the two spent at Judy Fedrowisch Kincaid’s home and at the home of my cousin, Patsy Hughes Oldroyd. We kicked back in the play rooms and wrap-around porches and got right down to the nitty-gritty! We had a most relaxing time at Judy’s and Patsy’s houses and discussed our old friends and our first loves while remembering just why we did love them so much! We discussed many of the firsts which we experienced at Lee – first kiss, first boy-girl party, first dance, first date, etc. – which will forevermore form the cornerstone of some of our most cherished memories.
Much of our ability to stay connected through the years can be directly attributable to the internet and other wonders such as text messaging! What once involved several letters or phone calls over the course of weeks of planning have now been reduced to one simple text message: “Wanna go to lunch?” which is followed by a meal at Logan’s, Cheddar’s or (be still my heart!) Gibson’s Barbeque. It doesn’t getmuch better than that! Most of us are familiar with Facebook and check in on our friends each morning to see what life holds in store for them. Our own Travellerserves as a social media vehicle for our classes. You are reading this article, I assume, because you would like to see if there is any information on one or more of your Lee friends. I have heard some of you mention that no one wanted to read anything you might write. But we are all equally interested in everyone else’s information. Therefore, I encourage you to submit an article occasionally. It doesn’t have to be a long article. Just simply tell us about YOU – because we all care!
Judy suggests that, should you find yourself thinking of an old friend, you pick up the phone and invite her to go for lunch or even coffee. You’ll be glad you did.Any way you slice it, make no mistake about it – ours is a truly unique friendship that defies explanation. Our backgrounds have a commonality which let us fit seamlessly into this Fami-LEE friendship and come together in a manner which is impossible to explain to a non-Lee member. I dearly love all my friends, but you (g)old friends hold a special place in my heart. No one knows you like someone you shared a Baby Ruth with in 5th grade or one who tried to teach you a cheerleader’s jump in 10th grade, or even that young boy with whom you discovered spin-the-bottle and the delights of monthly cookouts. That’s the Lee legacy.
Once again, I find myself indebted to T.M.I.E. for stimulating my brain cells to kick into overdrive by asking me to write an article about “you and your gang”following the most recent posting on Facebook of our latest lunch. While some ofmy peeps (Jeanne Ivey, Carol Bailey Olson, Sherry Adcock White, Charlotte Massey, Carol Jean Carroll, Pam Grooms Smith, and Gilda Wilburn Davis) were not physically present due to illness or other commitments, they were all with us in spirit. Just as I think I don’t have another article in me, Tommy always shows upand proves me wrong! Thanks, T.M.I.E.! It was fun revisiting all my buds. I look forward to the next endeavor.
So . . . anyone wanna go to lunch?
Remembering November 22, 1963
by Tommy Towery
Class of '64
The newspapers and TV last week remembered the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and most of us thought back to where we were when we learned the news.
"Friday Nov. 22, 1963 - Had a substitue teacher in Physics and P.G. today. During Plane Geometry I was awakened by a radio comming (sic.) over the P.A. system. It was the news of President John F. Kennedy being shot. He was shot in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald and died at 1:00 E.S.T. I wrote an editorial about it for the paper. Had to take it back to the press today.
I went to a party at Gene Bryson's house. That tooth's about to kill me. We had a test in English Cclass today."
Above is the text I wrote on a page of my Senior English that day.
Back in 2001 we talked about this and I got several emails from you about your own memories. Here are some of them.
"The End of Camelot"
by Barbara Wilkerson Donnelly
Class of '64
November 22, 1963: I was standing in the hall talking to a group of other seniors, when Mr. Hamilton's voice came over the intercom telling us to proceed to our 5th period class. I had Government/Econ with Mr. Woods and, along with everyone else, wondered what could cause this change in our routine. With much trepidation, we slowly walked up the hall and entered the room. I remember that the information came to us by radio, even though I do not remember the exact words. I know we were asked to pray, and there was not a sound in the room, other than some students crying. Heads were bowed, and tears flowed freely as we prayed for our President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Finally, the word came over the intercom -- a message that I will never forget -- "Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States is dead."
I suppose that that was my first rude awakening to the real world. Oh, I had dealt with some difficult moments, just as everyone else had, but it just wasn't right for someone to kill your President! Things like that just did not happen! All of us were served a slice of reality that day and most of us were shaken to the core. But the important thing is: We survived.
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 09:55:51 -0600
From: "Pat Stolz"
I remember being in Miss Jessups class the day President Kennedy was shot. I'm sure she was in her usual spot, sitting on her desk. I loved her class because I had such a crush on Harry Renfroe. When the announcement came over the pa system, I felt like the air had been sucked out of my lungs. I remember being home sick for the next few days with what the Dr. thought was hepatitis, I was so sick i could hardly lift my head, but I couldn't stop watching the TV hoping it was all a mistake. I think we all lost our innocence and trust in people all being good. Seems so true now with all that happened 9-11. How I long for that innocent time to return.
Pat Torzillo Stolz
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 05:01:32 EST
From: Mark Bentley
Kennedy's Been Shot?? Oh My God!!! Where? When? Is he OK?
(Editor's Note: When I first got this note from Mark and read it, I thought to myself, "Duh, Mark, of course Kennedy was shot...where have you been? You memory is worse than Barbara's. Then I realized that he was sending me his thoughts back then, just as I had asked. I got a good laugh out of it.)
Subject: President Kennedy's assassination
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 01:38:07 EST
From: Dwight Jones
I remember sitting in class, I think it was English class, but not for sure. I had thought when I first started to write my memory of this it happened around 11:00 AM, but then after checking on the web site I found on the history of Kennedy's assassination, it shows 12:25 PM. That just goes to show with age how much I tend to forget. Anyway, back to the subject, my first thoughts were, you have to be kidding. Then as it sunk in, tears begin to come to my eye's. But I was 17 years old, almost a grown man, at least I thought so. After all, I did have my driver's license, my own car, and a part time job after school. So thinking that way, hey, I can't cry, I'm not that young anymore. I remember several of the girls shedding tears, but that was alright, they were girls. I also remember going home that day and all three channel's on the TV, yea that's right, 3 channel's was all we had back then, was live with what had happened.
It seems this was the real first "shock" I had experienced in my life up until that time and is something that I know I will alway's remember. But looking back at this, I'm sitting here thinking, maybe this also was God's way to prepare me as young man of other things, some worse than even this, for the future. After all, I'm sure all who reads this, is daily thinking now of what happened Sept. 11 and wondering what our country will have to face in the coming weeks and months. My prayer is for God to protect us and revieve us just as he did after Nov. 22, 1963.
Class of '64
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 19:11:52 -0600
From: "Jim Bannister"
The day JFK was shot is one of those days that everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing.....September 11, 2001 will be another one of those days....It is ironic that we seem to remember with great detail the events that are so tragic....Anyway, where was I when JFK was shot???? I was at home ill with the flu. I sat there alone glued to the TV coverage with no one to talk with, my parents were at work and all my friends were in school. I remember the loneliness and sadness that I felt and an underlying feeling of fear....Probably like most young people my age, I was caught up in the whole Camalot thing and didn't have a REAL worry in the world.....This event, then Vietnam quickly changed all of that....It seems that our children never got to experience the totally carefree teenage days that we did...The burdens of the world seemed to always be on their shoulders....
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2001 20:24:45 -0800
From: Yolanda Lee
I was in Latin Class at Lee when President Kennedy was shot. I don't remember my Teacher's name. I do know that in 5 days from this writing, that 38 years will have passed. My immediate thoughts were "How could this happen in Our Country?". When I got home from school that day, I was quite upset. Then, I learned that my Grandfather had died that day also. Yes, I will always remember that day. And 38 years later - I know & understand.
Here are some current memories that were posted on my Facebook account.
Sherry Adcock White - I was in study hall when that announcement was made. Everyone was shocked. It was a gray gloomy day.
Jim Butts - I was standing in front of the main office, after lunch, waiting for the bell to ring when someone came running out of the office saying that "someone just shot President Kennedy". The bell rang, we went to 4th period class with the news being broadcast over the P.A. system. We all silently sat in our seats, (I was in home & family class @ the very end of our senior wing), when they announced that he was dead, the teacher said, "As far as I'm concerned, school is over for today" By the time we all picked up our books to leave, the principal said the same over the P.A.
Joyce Whitlock Reiling - I was in algebra--I'll never forget that day!
Barb Knott - I was in home economics class when it came over the PA system. My next class was math and we just sat there with our heads on our desks. When I got home my mom had the tv on and that was where we sat for the next four days.
Ron Blaise - As a D. O. Student I was at work in the old HIC building for Hayes International when we were told he was killed. I saw a lot of different reactions from people that day. Some were stupid and very mean spirited but most were just stunned, not knowing what to think.
Linda Taylor - In Mr Davis's Sr Econ class ...
John Scales - I have a memory (perhaps faulty) that it started during break or lunch, when many were walking around the auditorium, and they put the radio on the intercom. No one could tell what it was saying until we got to class, and then it was just he'd been shot. The news of his death came later.
Ron Vandiver - I was in 11th grade Chemistry class as I recall.
Bruce W. Fowler - I recall sitting in band class when Fulton Hamilton made the announcement over the PA. Not sure where Jim Foley was. No one seems to recall putting their instruments away.
Memphis, TN - I have added a new section to the Navigation Pane called "Upcoming Events" to keep track of things in the planning stages rather than printing the same items over and over each week. I will continue to post the first notice as news before it is moved to upcoming events area.
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