From Friday night football games and typewriting class to cruising the streets of downtown Lincolnton and Latin Club toga initiations, Lincolnton High School graduates from 1960 to 1970 look forward to their first large-scale reunion this weekend in Myrtle Beach, S.C., a popular summer hangout for alumni during their teen years.
A group of more than 20 alumni, headed by Lincolnton resident Tommy Huskey, a graduate from the class of 1968, have been planning and organizing the event since July 2012.
They invited the Times-News to share in their event planning Monday evening during a final committee gathering before the reunion.
Tommy said he was visiting with a Gastonia pub owner last year when the reunion idea came to him. The business owner’s father told him about a similar combined reunion between two Mecklenburg County high schools that annually draws in hundreds of former students.
Tommy was immediately inspired.
“I thought, ‘Let me find some people from each (graduating) class and contact them,’” he said. His efforts proved quite successful.
During the early planning stages, the Lincolnton reunion committee felt the event would be a hit if they could convince nearly 100 people to attend.
Much to the group’s surprise, more than 250 alumni signed up, committee member Patsy Cashion said.
Tommy noted that individuals will be traveling to the event from as far away as Florida and Texas, and a number of alumni have already planted their feet in the reunion site’s sand.
A 1967 Lincolnton High School graduate, Patsy and classmate Pam Lineberger, also set to attend the reunion, have been friends since the first grade, growing up just blocks from one another.
They reminisced about how they used to walk to school together each morning. They attended the now-defunct Park Elementary School before moving on to Battleground Elementary, followed by Lincolnton High School.
Tommy’s wife, also named Pam, pointed out the famous fashion trends from her high school days including John Romaine pocketbooks and Bass Weejun shoes.
Perhaps, more popular than the past decade’s dress were the student hangouts during the 1960s, particularly city hot spots such as The Bitter End and The Speckled Bird, alumni said.
The Lincolnton graduates also pointed out how Schronce’s Grill, now the Lighthouse Fish Camp & Grill, served as the common stop during cruising hours along with It’s Grill, now shut down, on East Main Street and the area’s only bowling alley at the time.
While Tommy noted how a representative from each graduating class will be present at this month’s reunion, with the most students attending from the class of 1965, an overwhelming number of individuals will not be in attendance — students who lost their lives over the years.
“It’s amazing how many people have passed away,” Tommy said.
A large board with each deceased student’s name and picture will be displayed throughout the reunion. The information is also listed on the reunion website, lhs60to70.com, which contains the event’s daily agenda, an alumni message board and more.
The planning committee frequently chatted about old friends and hangouts during the meeting but they couldn’t stay away from the topic of former coaches and teachers and how some individuals filled both roles over the years. They shared about how the adults had a significant impact on their lives and kept school life interesting in a number of ways.
For those who once donned a Wolves’ football jersey, former coach Von Ray Harris — a legendary icon no longer living — had a low tolerance for athletes with poor grades.
“If you made below a 70,” Steve Valentine said, “you got a lick.”
The 1969 graduate, both a baseball player and student in Harris’s P.E. and health class, described how each point below a passing grade resulted in a paddle strike.
“Coaches had more influence than teachers,” Valentine said.
Johnny Colvard, a former football player, pointed out the disciplinary ways of former math teacher and women’s basketball coach Roy Turbyfill.
“He had a big ring,” Colvard said, “and would pop you on the head if you misbehaved.”
Classmates laughed about the days when parents supported teachers, who could administer harsher punishments without legal action.
Valentine said often times he received two spankings — one each at home and school — for bad behavior.
Former baseball coach Perry Brown also stood out in classmates’ minds.
“He probably still does 100 pushups each morning,” Colvard joked.
Perhaps, more so than coaches and teachers, Lincolnton High School’s principal at the time, F.D. Kiser, impacted students.
“I don’t think there will ever be another principal like him,” Linda Harrill Rudisill said.
The 1960 graduate and former women’s basketball player shared one of her more humorous memories of Kiser, which occurred during her years as a new teacher.
“I remembered him telling me,” she said, “’You keep them (students) busy so they won’t plot against you.’”
Linda and the entire alumni committee chimed in with laugher over the beloved principal’s comment.
Linda has since gone on to achieve much success in her teaching career, being named North Carolina Health Teacher of the Year and Southern District Health Educator of the Year.
She now works in cooperation with Appalachian State University.
While some graduates moved outside Lincoln County after graduation, Tommy said a good number of students remained local and still reside in the area.
He hoped the three-day reunion would not only allow former classmates additional time to catch-up and rehash old stories, since a typical reunion lasts around a three-hour period, but also prevent each class from the money-spending hassle of planning individual reunions.
While it seems graduates from recent years look forward to leaving their high school halls and rarely reunite after graduation, Valentine noted the closeness of students during his day — a time when cliques were more rare and teens respected teachers.
“You didn’t just talk back,” he said.
He also gathered with friends every Friday during the Vietnam War era at the old bus station near Trim’s Barber Shop in Lincolnton, where he said they watched young men take off to Fort Bragg.
Tommy best summed up the four-year period, calling it “a fun time in everybody’s life.”
The reunion for classes 1960-70 is set for Thursday through Sunday.
For more information or to assist in the planning process, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the reunion website, lhs60to70.com.
Activities will include a silent auction, hospitality room, music and more.