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It was Saturday evening, Aug. 7, 2010.
Place: Henning’s Restaurant
Occasion: Lebanon High School Class of 1970 reunion!
And believe you me, we came from far and near! Alabama, Denver and Maryland just to name a few.
If only for one day or night, if we could have had access to the transporter thing Jeff Goldblum used in “The Fly,” or Star Trek’s Scotty’s “beam us up thingy” we would have all crowded in to go back for just one night to the year 1970. Place? Well, just about anywhere other than Mr. Farris’s English class. It would not have mattered as long as we could have just gone back.
When Bobby Clark, Curt Richards and Emmett McKay posed for a photograph together, you could just tell they were right back on the court at a Lebanon High Friday night basketball game and they were having no problem still believing they were the “Terrific Terrifying Three!”
Since we did not have that transporter we had to go back through each other’s eyes and stories. We tipped toed, no we boldly avoided subjects that would have brought pain into the evening and opted only for those memories of days gone by in Lebanon and at Lebanon High School.
When Coach Tommy Simpson gave his speech, I could feel the tears in his words.
We talked about our race relations in the class of 70, but there were really none to talk about. The teachers did not get on our case because we were black they got on us because they were not pleased with our class attendance, conduct or performance. However, you applied yourself, so were you awarded. Some admitted they knew I was a cheerleader, but had not considered the fact that I was the first black cheerleader. Mike Howard’s response was, “I guess we just took you for granted.” Meaning, I knew you were a cheerleader but to me you were just Ruth Ann.
Some members of our class could be there only in memory; however, the role they played in that production will never be forgotten. They were remembered in our prayers. All of us knowing all too well that it was our faith and prayers that allowed our being here this evening.
As the night drew closer to an end, it became urgent to let that special friend, confidant, lunch buddy, secret pal, secret admirer know how happy you were to see them and to please let’s not let years pass before we even say hello again. Tears were forced back because we all know that tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but we all close our eyes each night in hopeful expectation that we will be given that gift one more time.
Yes, it was plain to see that life had dealt each one of us its best shot. But the Class of ‘70 stood, maybe a little weak in our bodies, but we still stood, mentally strong, looked life in its face and asked, “Is that all you got?”
To the Class of 1970, I salute us. We were, if I might borrow a phrase from a Tina Turner song, we were “Simply the best. Better than all the rest.” And guys you are all better than anyone that I have ever met! I hope that somewhere along the way the LHS Class of 1970 has left a legacy in what it is to have respect for life, education and humankind.
Thank you June Farmer Elliott and your supporting cast who made this “one night” possible. I love you all.