|From the desk of Don Meyers
WOW… WHAT A FIFTIETH YEAR REUNION ! – All the stars were lined up right for
this one, ’55 guys. I’m writing this one day after our reunion and Martha and I are
still wired and flying high. A huge, huge success which certainly exceeded our
expectations. A total of 80 classmates and 67 spouses and friends for a grand total
of 147 attended the reunion. We heard from 12 other classmates who registered to
attend but could not because of changed circumstances.
I guess you can say there’s good news and bad news too. The bad news is that the
reunion had to come to an end but the good news is I downright know everyone had a
terrific, fun time. The weather was Florida Spring spectacular despite a rain front
which held off until late Friday evening. I cannot believe I laughed so much over
classmates seeing each other and reconnecting after fifty years. Never have I seen so
many happy, smiling faces together anywhere. Are we fifty-year “survivors” or
what? As one classmate told me, “I’m really proud of all these classmates for making
it to this milestone event.”
HOSPITALITY ROOM A JAM UP HIT - The Hospitality Room at the headquarters
hotel was wall-to-wall exhibits, art work, pictures, scrapbooks and OHS memorabilia,
plus, Ocala in the 50’s artifacts and music. There was a refreshments and food table
plus coffee was ready every morning at 7 am. Classmates took advantage of all this
OHS nostalgia and you could hear things like, “I remember this…” “Look at you…you
look so young,” “Remember us wearing those crinolines…” “I can’t believe this…” and
the beat went on. At one time when there was a lull in the traffic in the Hospitality
Room and two or three classmates were looking at scrapbooks, a hotel guest passing by
stuck his head in the door and said, “You the only guys still liv’n ?” Well, if that
clown could have been to all our events he would have seen all of us classmates still liv’
n it up and having a big time too.
THANKS TO THE REUNION PLANNERS AND WORKERS – Your help was the
reason every event went off great. You know who you are. I will not list your names
but I hope Les and I got around to tell you what unsung heroes you are. Besides time,
physical help, and even prayers, the Class of ’55 raised the bar to a new level on how a
real class reunion happens and is pulled off. OHS classmates from other graduating
years who attended echoed this. Many classmates donated their own money for
various events, pictures, services, entertainment, flowers, art, gifts and more. And the
dessert tables at both the Friday “Picnic” and Saturday “Bar BQ” was loaded with
mouth watering “goodies.”
Classmate Junior Gayle, who has managed country clubs for 30 years and is in the
hospitality industry, gave you all the supreme compliment by stating he has never in
his professional career attended such a well run and fun event.
AND THE STORIES THAT WERE TOLD ! Even though I only went to OHS for two
years, I feel the many great stories I overheard now qualify me for being an Ocala
Native since grade ONE. Some stories I can’t repeat until I get all parties
permissions. These contain, how shall I phrase it, some pretty individual personal
idiosyncracies. Did I say that right ? Well, some of you were flat-out CRAZY.
Sound better ? Some like Les Sharpe always going around borrowing pencils. Pencils
in school ? Who needs ‘em , but Les did ! Or, Carl Poole rounding up enough
classmates so boys could attend a home economics class. Some of these guys today
tell Carl they’re glad they took the class because it helped them in later life. I don’t
know if Jim Alcorn was one of these “home ec” guys but he sure makes a killer
strawberry pie. And, due to popular demand, Jim is bringing his delicious strawberry
pies to our July 23 luncheon so he can prove to classmates he’s a “number one” pie
man. Better be there classguys to enjoy these super pies.
WHO-DONE-IT ’55 – is a new section of this newsletter suggested by Freddie Blosch’s
talented wife Louise after she listened to some of you classmate “crazies” at the
reunion. Keep in mind the statute of limitations applies here. So if you know who-
done-it or have some to share, try them on me. Two who-done-its heard by Louise are…
who put the skunk behind the lockers? and who cut the peep hole in the back of the room
that looked into the girls locker room in the gym? I’ll add another since we’re talking
locker rooms and this is it. Which “despicable” characters tried to lure Patsy (Milner)
Rabb into the boys locker room to show her the caged wildcat?
COSMETICALLY ENHANCED SURGERY PROCEDURE STORY – Overhead at our
reunion between two classmates. Was it lady classmates discussing a nip or a tuck
here or there ? Nope. It was A. J. (Arnold) Johnson telling Joe Taylor how Joe’s super
fast softball pitch “back then” had re-arranged some of A.J.’s facial features when he
was catching behind the plate. Improvement ? Well, I didn’t notice any, but A. J.’s
nose did seem at a peculiar odd angle.
DUTY CALLS - Charlotte (Hatch) and Jim Chambless were not able to attend our
reunion because their son Jimmy, Jr. was deploying to Afghanistan and naturally the
family wanted to be with him. On the flip side, Jack and Jean NeSmith got word their
son Kyle would not have to deploy to Afghanistan. I guess, as Americans, we’re all in
this thing together.
OHS LETTER SWEATER AND CONVERSE ALL-STAR SHOES – were purchased at
Marion Hardware according to classmate Johnny Moore. He also related he had an
Ocala Star-Banner paper route and if the carrier did not get any complaints in a week
he received a pass to the Marion Theater. Johnny didn’t tell me how many theater
passes he received. And Fred Blosch can still get into the OHS Letter Sweater he
brought and showed off in the Hospitality Room.
1955 FACTOID – A presidential news conference was filmed for television for the first
time in 1955, with the permission of President Eisenhower.
CLASS TRIVIA QUESTION – Who were the first two ’55 classmate girls to wear
Bermuda shorts to class? They made them for Home Ec and wore them in Assembly
and for the first time out to a Thursday night square dance. Blue shorts, pink tee
shirt and pink knee socks. How brazen? First correct answer will get one of Jim
Alcorn’s “famous” strawberry pies at the July luncheon.
OCALA HIGH SCHOOL AVIATION PROGRAM – Bob Badger, Class of’54 was a part
of this Vocational School program. There were two branches of instruction, Pilot
Training and Aircraft Mechanics. According to Bob, Pilot Training was taught by
instructor Mrs. Virginia Arnold Alyea. She was a good pilot and teacher who never
seemed to get ruffled or upset says Bob. The cost of flight training was $1.25 per
hour flight time and you payed for the books. The cost of gas was included in the
$1.25. Aircraft maintenance was taught by Mr. Bill McLean. Bob received his pilots
license in l952. And Bobby Martin’s fondest memories of OHS are the times he spent
at the old Taylor Field in Bill McLean’s aviations mechanics class too. Bobby learned
to fly with Virginia Arnold Alyea, worked at the airport after school and on weekends.
WAYS YOU’RE GETTING OLDER – Listen up classpersons. A new “blurb” is being
added to your newsletter, and get this, you all are the contributors. All of us are
getting older so let’s hear it from you on “ways….” aging is affecting you. It can be
ways that are real, imagined, or say, DIFFERENT. I will randomly call selected
classmates quarterly to get your “ways….”, or you can avoid my 5 am call and Email
me. But, please don’t call me after my 9:00 pm bedtime. To get you in the spirit of
“ways you’re getting older….” I’ll kick it off. “I know I’m getting older because for
my birthday Martha got me a subscription to large-print Penthouse Magazine.” Now
let’s hear your “ways….”
’55 FACTOID – Lost in the excitement and notoriety of our Fiftieth Class Reunion was
the fact McDonald’s Hamburgers celebrated it’s fiftieth anniversary too. Big Mac
started on April 15, 1955 when milkshake salesman Ray Croc opened his first
McDonald’s in Chicago. On day ONE it brought in $366.12 selling 15-cent
hamburgers and 10-cent bags of French fries. Remember our first McDonald’s in
Ocala on Pine Street? I never knew what the odd shaped building was going to be for
as it seemed it took such a long time to open.
FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME’S INDUCTION CLASS OF
2005 - Our own Barbara (Simmers) Caywood was one of 10 individuals selected for
induction. Barbara, Florida Today sports writer, was honored along with such
individuals as tennis great Chris Evert and former Gator and Cincinnati Bengal Cris
Collinsworth. This years’ inductees bring to 93 the number of deserving individuals
who have been enshrined in the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Barbara is
the first female sports writer in both Kansas and Florida and has a long list of
achievements and contributions in high school athletic programs. Way to go Barbara !!
CLASSMATE “BRAIN TEASER” – Coming at you twice this newsletter, so get your
answer neurons in gear if you can, classmates. According to Florida State Archives,
who was the first woman, who is a native Floridian, to become a licensed veterinarian
in Florida ? Yep, she is a l955 classmate. First ten correct answers will get to watch
the winner of the “Class Trivia Question” eat their strawberry pie at the July luncheon.
OVERHEARD BETWEEN TWO CLASSMATES AT THE REUNION – One classmate
clasped the other classmte’s shoulder affectionately and said…”I wish I could have been
a closer friend to you in high school our senior year.” The other classmate replied…”
This is one of the nicest things anybody has ever told me.” They both smiled. So,
there you have it…’55 friends ARE forever. Believe it !
ELMO “CRUSHED” AT REUNION – “Dr Elmo” comes up to me with a big grin on his
face and says…”These ladies are telling me they all had crushes on me in high
school.” I say, “why not, you were the cutest boy in our class. So what did you say to
them? And Elmo says…”Heck..why’d you wait 50 years to tell me?” And if you
believe all this, I have a bridge to sell you cheap in the Keys.
LOST 1955 MEMORY BOOK –My Memory Book on the exhibit table in the Hospitality
Room “walked off.” Please look on the back of the book and if you see my name let me
know. I’d really like it back I’ll even spring for the return postage too. And speaking
of Memory Books, Pat Bishop tells me she still has three remaining. They will be sold
first come, first served. You can contact her, and she plans to bring them to the July
OCALA HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION – Reunion planners got
together at Gator Joe’s and agreed to give the OHS Foundation $500. These were funds
left over from our Fiftieth Reunion. The remaining balance was set aside for future
uses. Also, put this down on your 2030 calendar that Les Sharpe has agreed to be in
charge of our Class of 1955…Seventy-Fifth (75) year reunion. Well, classpersons, at
least we plan ahead. Les will be in touch with you to volunteer to help out too.
BELIEVE IT !!
SIGNS OF THE TIMES – In l955, a U.S. Senate committee said comic books devoted
to crime and horror amounted to instruction manuals in murder, rape, robbery “and
virtually every other form of crime, degeneracy, bestiality and horror.” Not to mention
contributing to juvenile delinquency. Plus, comic books usually pictured bodies of
scantily clad women. Comic books ? Puh-leeeze ! Just look at what’s out here fifty
years later “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas”…”JFK Reloaded”…. Debbie Does Dallas”
…. to mention just three popular videos. What’s in your grandkids video game?
July 2005 . . .