And the class of ‘57 had its dreams.
We all thought we’d change the world with our great work and deeds.
Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs.
The class of ‘57 had its dreams. – The Statler Brothers
I spent more than four hours last Saturday evening with members of the Durant High School Class of 1957 during their 60th reunion. It began with some members going on a tour of the new high school led by DHS Principal Cheryl Conditt. They then met at the Roadhouse for dinner and socializing.
My mother, Betty Lane (Batchelor) Swearengin, was a member of this class. She was among the top-three honor students along with Rebecca Brown and Jerry Don Hull. Mom died on Jan. 16, 2000. Her name is on a DHS Class of 1957 plaque in memory of deceased classmates.
The reunion was a great time and I had the thought that if mom were still here, I would have taken her. She may have been in poor health and not felt like going, but perhaps I would have persuaded her to go, promising that I would take care of her and we would not have to stay long if she got tired. I know her classmates would have loved seeing her. Listening to my mom’s classmates tell stories and watching them laugh was comforting to me.
I’ve met many of these classmates through the years and know they are a tight-knit group. Some of them meet once a month for lunch at Sherrer’s Restaurant, which during their era, was part of “the main drag” and a popular hangout for teenagers. I’ve also communicated with some of them via Facebook and email, technology, they could never have imagined when they were in high school.
“The greatest classmates anyone could ever ask for,” class member Dorsey Jack Reirdon said, in a recent Facebook post.
Classmate Sylvia Gentry Burton remembered my mother. Burton lived in the old Amsel home where 14-year-old Pauline Amsel was brutally murdered in 1914. She had seen an article I wrote about the murder and made contact with me about 11 years ago. I had not seen her again until last Saturday, when she told me she saw my mother on a date at Lake Texoma. Burton said she could tell by watching their expressions that they would be a couple. Their eyes were fixated on each other and they seemed oblivious to anything else, Burton said. My mom’s date that evening was Bob Swearengin and they married in August 1958. My father preceded my mother in death by three months.
Burton said about the reunion, “I was afraid we would not have another reunion so I made sure I got to visit with each classmate. There’s just no relationship like the bond one has with people you’ve known so long even if you don’t see them so often. It’s like you’re going home after a long trip. The years slip away the minute you make eye contact.”
Classmate Pat Phelps and wife, Dot, attended the reunion. Mr. Phelps remembered my mother well, and also the rest of my family.
“Your mother was a delightfully fun person,” Phelps told me. “And she got this from her fun-loving father James and mother Virginia.”
Don Brimage was the president of the Class of 1957, a role Phelps said Brimage has continued to this day.
“He has continued that leadership role to this day by organizing monthly meetings of the class and of course, the decade meetings,” Phelps said.
Phelps also thanked Ola Pearl Eppler for her efforts on the reunions.
“I would be amiss if I didn’t mention that Ola Pearl Eppler is the work horse of the group, always keeping us in line and aware of what our classmates may be doing. It is always enjoyable to exchange family information, work and retirement, and health of my class. We obviously do not know the number of living classmates, but we have lost about half over the years. It was great fun for Dot and I to attend the dinner and greet old friends and exchange greetings.”
The Phelps have hosted reunions at their home for the classmates. Mrs. Phelps said the group is amazing.
“They love each other and truly personify the song, ‘The Class of 57 Had Its Dreams,’” she said.
Contact Matt Swearengin at 634-2160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.