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200615 June 20, 2020


Shades of Gray

Tommy Towery
LHS '64

        When thinking about what I wanted to write about this week I could not help but think how much the Monkee's 1967 song "Shades of Gray" related to many's feelings about our current times.
    Still thinking about high school graduations and the COVID-19 world in which we now live made me remember some moments in my life I want to share.

        I was still 17, would not turn 18 until three weeks later, when I graduated from Lee with many of you. To remind some of you, the day after graduation I loaded my belongings into my mother’s car and that morning I moved to Memphis in anticipation of college days ahead. I have never lived in Huntsville since. I vividly remember going to bed in the wee hours of the morning following graduation and laying awake in my bed, unable to go to sleep because of the myriad thoughts going through my head. My number one thought which kept surfacing was “My life will never be the same again.” I said it to myself as I watched Huntsville disappear out the car’s rear view mirror.

        Even though I had 17 years of existence before me, I do not remember ever thinking that thought before. I had been though puppy love affairs, moves, school changes, getting a driver’s license, making and losing friends and other events without such thoughts entering my mind. But upon graduating from high school that was all I could think – “My life will never be the same again.”

        And, of course I was right. I did not have the same feeling four years later when I graduated from college, even though it was a bigger life changer than high school graduation. The feeling just did not hit me. The same applied one week later when I said I do to my first wife. I knew it would be different, but I was not plagued with the same fear of change I felt earlier. I was off to begin a career in the Air Force with a new wife and for the first time in our lives we would be on our own – no parental influence, no financial support, no changing our minds or going back. But the thought did not enter my mind. Even with the death of friends and parents, I did not say those words to myself.

        As a matter of fact, I did not consciously say to myself those same thoughts until the night when the doctors and nurses rolled my wife into an elevator to take her to deliver my daughter Tiffany. I waved to her as the doors were closing and I said to myself, “Our lives will never be the same again.” We were through with the newlywed’s life, the freedom of being able to go where and when we wanted to at night without having to worry about what to do with a baby.

        I finished my Air Force career, got a divorce, worked 20 years at the University of Memphis and retired from there and even married Sue without the uneasy feelings of uncontrollable life changes. They were all just water under the bridge; the old one door closes and another one opens feelings.

        As I said before, I was right on the times I did feel that fundamental changes were happening in my life. And, once more, I now have uttered similar words with the same meaning, “Things will never be the same again.” I know that is true; how could it not be? My previous retirement life has been filled with concerts, ball games, foreign travel and 13 ocean cruise excursions. I now seriously believe those events will be structurally altered by the threat of the virus pandemic. I feel they will never get back to exactly the way they were before.

        Still, just as I have found my way through life with my previous encounters with those thoughts, I have survived and in many ways prospered. My high school diploma was the stepping stone for the rest of my life and I have enjoyed it. The birth of my daughter was a blessing I would never change, and in a way, I do not fear (only question) what will be the new normal in life when this current challenge is defeated. I know it will be different. I know I will have to adjust to it. But I am not going to “fret” as we say in the South. I’ll ride it out and see what happens and try my best to make lemonade out of the lemons growing on today’s trees. I only hope and pray everyone else can do the same. 

        Memphis, TN -  It is not my intent to cast a dark shadow on what is happening today, but rather to affirm we have been through some life changing events in our past (many more dramatic that those I wrote about) and we have survived. We still will.

Last Week's Movie of the Week Suggested by John Drummond

This movie was a 1959 American epic historical drama and a remake of the 1925 silent film with a similar title.

It was based upon a book written by a Union Army General who fought at the Battle of Shiloh.

The budget called for more than 100,000 costumes and 1,000 suits of armor to be made, for the hiring of 10,000 extras.

 Over 200 camels and 2,500 horses were used in the shooting of the film.

It won a record eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Musical Score, and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

The score was so lengthy that it had to be released in 1959 on three LP records.

This movie saved MGM from financial disaster making a profit of $20,409,000 on its initial release.

Max Kull, LHS '67, was the first to answer the Trivia questions:

1. What was the name of the film?
My all-time favorite - Ben-Hur

2. Which actor played the title role?
Charlton Heston

3. Which action scene of this movie is best remembered?
The Chariot Race

Bonus Question:
Which Union General wrote the book on which this movie was based?
Lew Wallace

Carolyn Burgess Featheringill, LHS ’65, " For the first time, I’m participating as I think a good many others will do so as well.  The movie was Ben-Hur;  Charleston Heston, of course, had the title role;  and who can forget the thrilling chariot race.  As to your bonus question, the name General Lew Wallace popped into my mind, but that’s just a lucky — or unlucky— happenstance. 

Other correct answers were made by:

J.R. Brooks, LHS '64 
Ed Zachary
John Scales, LHS '66, "Not much for movies but this one I know: Ben Hur, Charlton Heston, the chariot race, and Major General Lew Wallace."
Rod White

Don Wynn, LHS ‘67,  “Since I didn't contribute the movie for the quiz last week, it gave me an opportunity to realize how hard it can be. I like movies but really don't have any idea what it might be. I am sure I will easily recognize it when you give the answer.

Also, I really enjoy the comments of the people who do respond to the quiz each week.“.

This Week's Movie of the Week Suggested by Tommy Towery


    Last week's Movie Trivia was relatively easy for many of you . Not so this week! This week it is going to be hard; we'll separate the weak from the strong. 
Above is a beautiful love song from a movie that was about anything but love. It is bizarre that such a romantic song be selected as the theme from this movie. Roy Orbison did not sing it in the movie, nor did anyone else; it was an instrumental. This movie was a 1962 Italian documentary and in 1963, the song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song as "Theme from _______________".
Here are the questions for those who want to accept the challenge.

1. What was the Italian name of the movie.
2. What is the English translation of the title?
3. What was the movie about?


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Cancelled Reunion

David Mullins

LHS '64

Sad we will not be getting together this year but: OH WELL. I am anxious for 2021 event. I love the graphics, dear Ms Simms has a gift in her characterizations.


Pencil in September 24 & 25, 2021 for our next reunion.  

Please help update your contact information (especially your cell phone number), 
by emailing your class contact at the appropriate address below:



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