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200602 June 2,2020


Graduation Day - June 2, 1964
 Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    I know we all feel sympathy for the graduates of 2020 and their lack of pomp and circumstance at the end of their 12 years of education. Years from now how will they tell their tales of this special moment in their lives. I know not everyone has such a clear memory of their graduation as I do. For me, my memory is aided by the words I wrote in a journal I kept that final year of my high school days. Not only has it served as a memory reminder, it was also the basis of two books which I have written based upon its contents. "A Million Tomorrows ...Memories of the Class of '64" was written 25 years after the original journal entries, and "When Our Hearts Were Young - Today, 50 Years Ago" was put into words 50 years after the words were committed to the journal. 

    I know it is rare these days for someone to reveal as much personal information about their lives as I do, but I feel the historical impact of the memories are worth the price of doing so. In "A Million Tomorrows" I documented with great detail the events of my graduation day. Below is a condensed (edited) version of those passages which still reflect the main thought I had on that special night. I hope some of you might identify with the thoughts and not necessarily my personal events of that time. Here is what I wrote about my own graduation night's activities on June 2, 1964

From the reflections of my high school journal as documented in A Million Tomorrows...Memories of the Class of '64

    The day had finally arrived.  The day that had always seemed so far in my future was upon me.  It was the day that would mark the culmination of the longest project in which I had ever participated.  I had spent twelve years in school.  Twelve years of getting up early, of studying, and of tests was now at an end.  If I had so elected, I would never have to study anything else again in my life.  If I didn't want to make anything out of myself, I didn't have to.  It had always seemed an unobtainable goal that was so far in my future.  Even during the senior year, the graduation seemed so far away.  But the day was upon me.

My graduation present from the girl I called Janice in my book. Given to me on May 30, 1964 and still in my possession.

    My new watch, Janice's gift, kept track of the graduation ceremony that night.  (It was a very expensive present to give a friend back then.) With the letter "T" coming late in the alphabet, it was almost an hour before my name was called.  With the announcement I proudly walked across the stage and received my diploma and shook hands with Mr. Hamilton, Lee's principal.  In the crowd sat my mother and grandmother, filled with pride for their "boy."  They had been cheated from such an experience with Don.  He completed high school in the Navy, while he was away from home.  Tonight was the younger son's night.

    Once all the diplomas were passed out, the graduates, in unison, turned the tassels on their caps from one side to the other.  They then individually turned their class rings around.  Before that day, tradition stated that the seniors had to wear their new class rings with the school name readable by the wearer when the hand was outstretched.  That was upside down to other lookers.  Upon graduation, tradition then let them turn the school ring around so that the world could now read the name of the school on the ring on the outstretched hand.  That showed the world that you had graduated.  The running joke of the seniors was that after graduation you "Turn your tassel around, turn your ring around, and then turn around and do a back flip."

    Almost as quickly as it had started, the ceremony was over.  Except for Bob, the seniors had graduated.  He would have to wait until the end of summer school, thanks to English literature.  He did not begrudge those who had participated in the ceremony that night, and he joined them at the senior party at the National Guard Armory.  The party was designed to keep the graduates off the streets and out of trouble.  Its lack of impression on me can be noted by the lack of the band's name, an element recorded about every other dance I had attended during the period I kept the journal.

    The plan worked for a while and the new graduates did stay off the streets.  It was a strange dance however.  It was a night of mixed emotions.  We were happy to have graduated, yet sad that it was over.  Most of the participants were too keenly aware of what the night signified.  It meant a change in their lives.  That group, the group who had been together for so many years, was a group no longer.  They had worked their way through the grades at Lee.  They had watched and helped the school change from a junior high to a full-fledged senior high.  There was no common bond now, except that they were all members of the first graduation class of Lee High School, and that could not hold them together.

    The next day they would start spreading to the winds, never again to share the same environment which they had shared for so long.  It would be ten years before they gathered as a group again.  They would bring their wives and husbands and show pictures of their kids and homes.  There were more tears of pain than of joy that graduation night.  Their day had finally arrived.  It was a day that would break up the group.  It was the day that would change their lives forever.  It was not a year off or a month or a day.  It had arrived, and now it was behind them.

    The expectation, or apprehension, of the post-dance event was of primary concern.  Finally, when we could contain our excitement no longer, we said our goodbyes and left our old friends behind.  We walked out of the crowd, our crowd, and left the noise of the band to go into the stillness of the night. (Bob, Michelle, Janice, and I -not their real names) had our own private party parked at the dead end of a lonely street in a new subdivision). Bob and I took turns dancing with each girl and sometimes the whole group danced without caring who we danced with.

    Dawn was approaching, the new day was coming.  It was time to go.  Just as we were about to leave, I had my last dance with Michelle.  Michelle, the teenage beauty who had played such a large part in my starting the journal, had no idea then or today that the written words even existed.  I shared the moment with Michelle, the girl I once had a mad crush on, but who never knew.  There, in the quietness of the morning, the dawn of the first day of my manhood, we shared a song.  With my arms wrapped around her, embraced in a dance that had to mean more to me than to her, a song came on the radio, almost as if by request.  It was almost as if the Muse of Music was watching over me that moment.  The words came out of the car's speaker:


    The words haunted me as I danced with Michelle for the last time.  In the glory of the moment I can't remember if I kissed her or not.  We may have.  Even if we did, it was not a kiss of passion but a kiss of celebration.  It was almost fate that the last night of the high school journal was spent with the same three who had shared the beginning night of the journal.  Janice, Bob, Michelle, and I had lived the experience.  The music filled the morning air, and with the close of the final verse, we all crawled back into the car and headed home.

    The fun and excitement of the evening had kept me from realizing that I was saying good-bye to Michelle and Janice.  Even though Michelle and I had been friends, we had never shared the deep relationship that existed between Janice and me.  I had never thought about how I would be able to say good-bye to Janice.  If I had not faded into the early morning darkness, leaving her standing giggling on her front porch, it would have been an emotional good-bye that would have been almost impossible for us to say.  I was spared from one of the hardest good-byes that I would have ever had to say.  I was then faced with the same problem with Bob.  The two of us who were such good friends, now had to say good-bye.  It was a true good-bye.  It was not a "See you tomorrow night," or "See you at school tomorrow."  We didn't know when we would ever see each other again.  It was good-bye.  I would leave in a few hours, with all my possessions.  Bob would remain behind for summer school.  He was unsure what would follow in his life.  

    The sun was almost coming up as I started into my own home.  That was the last time that it would be "my" house.  Before the sun came up again, it would then and forever be "Grandmother's" house.  It was the dawn of a new day, a new today.   No one was waiting up for me.  I went straight to my room, my room for the last time.  Before I could go to bed, I had to enter the day into my journal.  I wrote into the journal that held my recordings of the day-to-day events that led to that moment.

    In the short time it took for me to drop off to sleep, the words of the song I had shared with Michelle kept repeating themselves in my mind.  This was my day and this was my glory.  A million tomorrows would never take the joy of those times away from me.

    With the final sentence of the night, the final entry on the page of the day, I accepted the end of my childhood.  "I guess I'm a man now."  It was as if by writing it, it would happen.  I accepted my fate.  I would now put aside my childhood things.  I didn't know what lay ahead for me, but I did know that the song was right.  I couldn't "be contented with yesterday's glory."  There were other challenges, other things in life to experience, other glories.  I would see and do things that I never imagined that early morning as I went to bed.  But, in all the future glories and all the future disappointments, one thing would hold true.  I would still always remember:

A million tomorrows
Shall all pass away,
Ere I forget
All the joy
That is mine

Today is my moment and now is my story ....


        Memphis, TN - Forgiveness requested. The quizzes were two weeks ago and a lot of email enters my mail box every day, so if I happened to accidentally misplace yours and you did not get credit for your answers to the questions I apologize. It has been a busy week for me with half the week trying to catch up with living through last week's internet being down. Hopefully next week everything will get caught up with and we can get back to a more normal issue of Lee's Traveller.

        This coming week the reunion committee  will be evaluating the answers to the survey and we will have a report on the results soon we hope.

        On an entirely different subject, on Saturday I watched the live coverage of the first manned space launch from US soil in nine years. My thoughts went back to sitting in a classroom at Lee and listening to the astronauts launch over the school's P.A. system. For the longest it seems we were allowed to share in the launches, and then it got to be old hat and the coverage disappeared. It was nice and nostalgic to be allowed to watch this launch live.

Previous Movie Songs of the Week 

Name That Movie

Lynn Vanpelt

The songs/movies
Gypsy - movie same name
 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - same movie title
 Tammy - same
 Days of Wine and Roses - same
 There's a Place for Us - West Side Story
Max Kull
LHS '67


1 - Clearly Ethel Merman (who did it on Broadway) singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from 'Gypsy' although Rosalind Russell actually did it as Mama Rose in the movie.
2 - "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (written by the Bacharach/David team) ***but*** the song was never part of the movie of the same name.
3 - "Tammy" from "Tammy and the Bachelor"...confession I had to look up to see which Tammy movie
4 - "The Days of Wine and Roses" from the movie of the same name...more Henry Mancini
5 - "Somewhere" from 'West Side Story'...."the movie of the week"

Previous Movie Trivia

 Scene: Two ethnic gangs in New York City agree to ‘rumble’ under an over-pass to settle a turf war.  They have agreed in advance that it would be a fist fight and weapons will not be used.  Just as the fight is starting, a former member of the gangs, arrives and tries to stop the fight. Released on October 18, 1961, through United Artists, the film received high praise from critics and viewers, and became the highest-grossing film of the year in the United States. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 10, including Best Picture.

What was the movie?
Who was the breakout star of the movie?
What were the names of the rival gangs?
Two cops play integral roles in the movie, what were their names?

John Drummond
LHS '65

        The movie is "West Side Story," the 1961 winner for Best Picture, a musical based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet.  It involves two New York City street gangs, the white Jets and the Puerto-Rican Sharks.  The lovers are Tony (Richard Beymer) and Maria (Natalie Wood).  Leonard Bernstein composed the music, Steven Sondheim the lyrics and Jerome Robbins the choreography.  As Natalie Wood was already well-known for her Oscar-nominated role (she did not win) in 1955's "Rebel Without a Cause,"  the breakout star was probably Rita Moreno, for her performance as Anita, which won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  George Chakiris (Maria's brother Bernardo) won Best Supporting Actor, but his star faded rather quickly.  The two cops were Lt. Schrank and Officer Krupke.  The role of tall, sandy-haired Baby John was played by Eliot Feld, who went on to fame as a choreographer and ballet superstar, forming the Eliot Feld Ballet, a touring company with an international reputation.

Lynn Vanpelt
 West Side Story one of the best musicals ever
 Breakout star(s) - George Chikaris and Rita Moreno
 Jets and Sharks
 Office Kryupke and ??

Max Kull
LHS '67

What was the movie? 
West Side Story

Who was the breakout star of the movie?
Maybe up for debate?  Natalie Wood was already well known.  Rita Moreno and George Chakiris (sp?) both won Oscars but I'd go with Rita since I think I've seen her more in years since.

What were the names of the rival gangs?
Jets and Sharks

Two cops play integral roles in the movie, what were their names?

Officer Krupke was one.  I can't remember the other.  I could look it up but that would be cheating...😉

Linda Collinsworth Provost
LHS '66

 West Side Story
- I'm sure that Natalie Wood is considered the breakout star but Rita Moreno should get honorable mention, not only for her talent in the movie but also for her lengthy stellar career.  She is one of only 15 celebrities who are EGOT'S (winners of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar & Tony awards.)
- Rival gangs were the Jets & the Sharks
- No idea about the 2 cops

The two police officers were 
 Officer Krupke and Lt. Schrank

This Week's Movie of the Week Suggested by Tommy Towery
        This week your movie trivia will once again share its usage with an existing song in this issue, the one which was used in the graduation story above. The song "Today" was featured in a movie in which it seemed not to belong (much like the song Unchained Melody we dealt with earlier). The movie was a light-hearted 1964 American western comedy film set in the American Civil War. It was Directed by George Marshall. The film is based on the 1957 novel Company of Cowards about a unit composed of coward soldiers who were given a second chance to prove their bravery. Of course, I saw the movie (at the Lyric Theatre) before I graduated and moved to Memphis. We will leave the questions easy, even though it is a hard film to remember: (Note: too much information will indicated someone searched Google for the answers, but if you did put some personal notes in with your answers.)  

1. What is the name of the movie which featured "Today"?
2. Who was the main male star?
3. Who was the main female star?

The 2020 Classes of '64-'65-'66 Reunion Survey

        A link to the survey shown below was emailed out last week to the people who are signed up to receive the Lee's Traveller notification each week. Please, if you received it and have already responded to the survey DO NOT take it again. The reunion committee will be evaluating the answers to determine their course of action as to whether or not to consider changes to the reunion dates. We have previously received over 100 responses and want to insure each affected classmate can make their wishes to be considered. As soon as all the results have been analyzed you will be informed of the actions to be taken. 

Lee High School 2020 Reunion Survey


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Your Lawrence of Arabia Article Two Weeks Ago

    I was reading your article and ROTFL....almost literally!!!!  Those were the days, huh?  Your style/way of writing is so descriptive that I feel as though I can see the two of you huddling together under that blanket while the car "almost" bursts in to flames.  What fun!!  Thanks for sharing


Save the Date!
September 25 & 26, 2020
LHS Reunion
The Westin at Bridge Street
Huntsville, AL

More Information to Come Later
Reunion Contacts
Ann Wilson Redford (
Niles Prestage (
Sarajane Steigerwald Tarter (

This Week's Name That Tune Group



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