Every fourth Thursday staff at Mitchem’s Kitchen put several tables together to accommodate a large crowd of male classmates from North Brook High School class of 1959.
Some have known each other since the first grade.
The men gather over breakfast to reminisce and peruse old yearbooks. They talk about their knee and cataracts surgeries. They laugh about driving to the Roseland drive-in theater in cars packed with people, including the trunk, to take advantage of the $1 per car rate. They cruised in Lincolnton, but were tight lipped about their shenanigans.
Listening to their conversations and stories provided an insight on what life in western Lincoln County was like when cotton was king, the county was dry and indoor plumbing was scarce.
Most of the the men came from sharecropping or textile mill-working families. Jobs were hard to come by. One man sold pigs to earn $80 for his first used car.
The school year was split in order to accommodate the cotton planting and picking seasons in Spring and Fall. Some picked cotton all day to make $3.
Of the 13 in attendance at their last breakfast, only one grew up with indoor plumbing. Several jokingly boasted about their family’s double-seater outhouses.
Well before West Lincoln High and Middle Schools were built, students in North Brook attended one of three schools until the eighth grade that fed into North Brook High School.
Since closing in the late 1980s, the three buildings at the corner of Highways 182 and 274 have fallen into a shape beyond disrepair. Most of the windows are boarded or the glass is broken. Parts of the roof framing is visible behind crumbling brick.
The classmates feel blessed for their school experiences, even if some it was spent playing hooky.
“We were very fortunate compared to kids today in school,” Nathan Houser said. “We grew up together. We started school together and prettywell stayed together the entire way through school.”
Female members of North Brook’s class of ‘59 meet at the same location on the third Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m.