When the Bee Gees were busy singing “How Deep is Your Love,” the Durant High School class of 1977 was busy making plans. Some of us would stay close to home and some would travel as far away as possible. College was an option chosen by some while others went directly to work, got married or both.
We saw ourselves as unique – choosing to have the prom at Lake Texoma Lodge instead of the SOSU Ballroom. Choosing wool commencement robes of 1950s and 60s classes over the newer, more popular lightweight, disposable gowns.
We were a class of under 150, but we made our mark on the athletic fields, at debate tournaments and in band contests across the state. We were proud to be from Durant and proud to attend Durant High School – and 40 years later, that’s still true.
Most of us began first grade at one of Durant’s several elementary schools, moving through the process of growing up together. Except for classmates who joined us somewhere along the road, like Robert Floyd who moved to Durant from Australia when we were in high school.
As kids we went to George’s, to movies at the Plaza downtown and shopped at dime stores on Main Street. We could go out on Halloween to trick-or-treat without fear, bringing home popcorn balls and homemade cookies. We chased lightening bugs, made exploding volcanoes for science classes and soapbox derby cars for races. We went swimming in creeks, jumped rope and respected our teachers. We rode our bikes around town like we owned the place, arriving home after sundown. In short, we bloomed where we were planted.
The Durant High School Class of 1977 met June 23 at SneakyTiki Restaurant and Brewery in Mead and the following evening at Naifeh’s Steakhouse in Durant.
The funny thing about reunions is how much everyone changes and how much everyone stays the same. Hair color is more gray or more blond or gone altogether, but, inside, there’s not much difference. There are still the talkers and the organizers, the quiet ones and the storytellers, but what will always remain are the memories we share.
On a tour of the old high school, compliments of Transportation Director Billy Whittenburg, a 1977 DHS graduate, someone asked about the bullies, and everyone said the old high school looked smaller. We stopped by the late Bill Orr’s classroom, remembering his talk of Oklahoma history and politics – remembering him as well as ourselves of 40-plus years ago. We laughed about things thrown out of windows and jokes played on teachers long gone. It was a weekend journey down memory lane, and we liked what we saw. After 40 years, the feelings of camaraderie are still strong.
It didn’t happen at the 10, 20 or 30-year reunions, but after our 40th, people took to Facebook with their comments and photos.
“Several people mentioned having a reunion every five years from now on, and I agree. Ten years is too long!” said Debbie Hendrix Canada of Fashion Cleaners fame.
“Much love to all my classmates and lifelong friends … keep in touch,” 1977 class member Mark Bowers, a basketball standout who now lives close to Colorado Springs, wrote.
Everyone’s favorite Facebook friend Donny Bailey of Parker, Colo., wrote, “I had a blast both nights! Thanks again for making me feel like part of the family!”
David Bryant and wife Liz wrote, “Looking forward to our 50th reunion already! Maybe we’ll get lucky and celebrate 45!”
From fellow organizers Sandy Smith Stroud and Karla Eppler Gibson, “The conversations take you right back to those days in high school. Loved the tour of our old high school – talk about memories!”
While it’s never easy getting people together or saying goodbye, the class of 1977 will always be special, and we’ll keep coming back. Back to the town and the friends we love – and the memories that helped make us who we are.
There will never be another Lynn Marsh or David Williams, Tom Cox, Ralph Graham or Jackie Peters or another year like 1977. But all Durant High School classes are special, and we are all connected.
I know you remember the words, so let’s sing it together one more time: “Durant High ….. Durant High ….. Loyalty and love for thee will never die. Memories fond, make a bond – that will tie our hearts for aye to Durant High.”
Submitted by Cheryl Peters Phelps, Durant High School Class of 1977 President.