News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


Let the good times continue to roll

Fifty years ago Friday night, give or take a week, I looked up in the bleachers as the public address voice singled out white haired members of a graduating class of what was then Blount County High School.

"Why were they so happy?" wondered a skinny 17-year-old senior end on the football team that by then represented Oneonta High School. "And why were they being honored?"

I missed being part of the '56 class opportunity Friday night for yet another set of youngsters to marvel at aging and to take a vow of perpetual youth, just as our 73 members did five decades ago.

It's just as well we didn't go. The old high school is no longer there and neither is the football stadium. Celebrating an old event in a new place wouldn't seem right. Memories thrive on familiarity.

Regina and I did attend another event Saturday night where about 20 members and their spouses gathered to enjoy a steak. We had too many ministers in the class for us to break out a bottle of wine.

By now, our group has discovered the secret to 50-year reunions' popularity, why these events are big deals, and why they are more or less happy occasions where the old coots have a good time.

We 50-year folks are survivors; deserved or not, we keep alive the results of the hopes and ambitions that our parents staked out for us an awfully long time ago, along with the disappointments.

The 1950s were a good time to grow up in and around Oneonta, which had a population of about 2,500. World War II had a leveling effect. None of us came from rich families, and few of us were desperately poor.

We could cruise for hours on a dollar's worth of gasoline and get a hamburger and fries for about a quarter.

We enjoyed real music from Elvis, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Johnny Cash.

They were good times because they were our times, just as these 50 years later are good times because they, too, are our times.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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