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Carver’s ‘first’ enjoy a look back

“We had all heard that a new high school was coming, but nobody thought it would be ready,” said Cuba Johnson, thinking back to when he was about to graduate from the eighth grade at Florida School. by Yvonne D. Nelson
Special to the Tri-State Defender

It was 1955. At the time, there was a big field with a farmhouse occupied by an old man sitting at 1591 Pennsylvania.

 
 (Seated from left) Annie Falls Moore and Rosie Turnipseed reminisce with classmate Cuba Johnson as (rear standing from left) Betty Harris McCollum and Dottie Thompson Smith listen in. (Photos by Yvonne D. Nelson)

 
Before leaving the meet and greet, Regina Cunningham Porter added her contact information to the class reunion roster.

“We had all heard that a new high school was coming, but nobody thought it would be ready,” said Cuba Johnson, thinking back to when he was about to graduate from the eighth grade at Florida School. “Once they began clearing the land and breaking the ground, we all knew a new school was really going to be built.”

Johnson, who delivered the reflections, was one of several classmates on the program during the 50th Class Reunion of George Washington Carver High School Class of 1961 banquet held Saturday, August 13.

The three days of Cobra spirit began with a social on Friday night. Saturday’s activities included a picnic and the banquet. On Sunday, the classmates met for church services at Bloomfield Full Gospel Church, where classmate Hattie Green Wayne is a member. And the activities ended with a farewell ceremony at the Southwest Memphis home of classmate James Hendrix and his wife, Beda, later that afternoon.

“I was quiet during my school days,” said Irma Moore, who was one of several dozen classmates who attended the meet and greet. “I was glad Diane (Adair Coleman) knew how to contact my sister Regina. It’s been 50 years since graduation and I’ve not had contact with my former classmates. It’s good to see everybody.”

Classmate Rutha V. Williams and her husband, Horace, had traveled from Owasso, Okla., for the reunion. She and her four sisters enjoyed a tea party prior to her arrival at the meet and greet. On Saturday, her sister, Barbara Morris Hunter, served as the program toastmaster for the banquet.

“You were the first graduating class of George Washington Carver High School,” said classmate Betty Harris McCollum of O’Fallon, Ill., who gave the occasion. “In 1961 you probably thought you were all that and a bag of chips. Back then, gas was 27 cents a gallon and you could buy a new car for $2,800. This is a time for rejoicing. Your dreams, goals and aspirations have become a reality. You are successful and we are proud to have had our beginnings at George Washington Carver.”

Johnson traveled from Nashville for the reunion. “We were the guys everybody looked up to,” he said. “We were some of the luckiest people in the world. We started out top dogs!”

Home Economics teacher Evie Horton thanked the classmates for always keeping in touch. “I can always depend on you to send cards, take me shopping and out to eat,” said Horton. “I am happy to see you doing so well.”

The guest speaker was President Johnnie B. Watson of The LeMoyne-Owen College.

“Think about something you can do for somebody,” said Watson. “Make the most out of every opportunity every day of your life. Give to the world the best that you have and the best will come back to you.”

Mose Davis, class president, gave the closing remarks.

 “We’re going to have to put something together within the next two or three years. This is our fiftieth year reunion. We have a lot to be proud of. We’re number one,” said Davis.

“We are the first, and you can’t change that.”

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