June 1, 2015
Pep Rally Days, 1965. It was our tradition. The Highlandettes would march down the aisle to “Loch Lomond” and file into the front-and-center rows of the auditorium. The band would play. Cheerleaders would lead us in “What’s the Good Word?” and other cheers, the football players would come up on stage, and our principal, Roy C. Johnson would practically throw his shoulder out leading us in another yell. Toward the end of the rally, we would sing our Alma Mater before crossing our arms, chain-style, and grabbing the hands of those on our left and right. If we sat on the end of the row, we’d hold the hand of the person behind us. And then we would shout, “All for one, and one for all!”
We are the Eastern Hills High School Highlanders, and this is our cry.
So it was only natural that these golden words would be splashed across our decorations when we celebrated our fiftieth class reunion on May 29 and 30. We’ve been ramping up to this event since as early as 2014, actually, when we received the first “Save the Date” postcards with a photo of Class Officers Phil Luebbehusen, Mike Gentry, and Steve Morris on the front.
that, and the dancing — but my head, a runaway balloon, has drifted far above Cloud Ten. A two-day event — May 29 and 30 — the fifty-year reunion of the Eastern Hills High School Class of 1965 has been nothing short of beyond amazing. Our Howdy Party at the Ventana Grille of Tierra Verde Golf Course, Ladies’ Luncheon, complete with Mimosas at Ridglea Country Club, and a party-to-end-all parties at Mira Vista Country Club reinforced the fact that we Highlanders can still party like nobody’s looking.
We have Reunion Chairman, Marsha McCarty Hilcher, and her illustrious and accomplished Committee to thank. Starting in 2014, Marsha, the brains and beauty behind this extravaganza, and Terry Allen, in charge of “Save the Date” cards, Reunion invitations, and Facebook correspondence, began whetting our appetites for the “Big Do” in May. Some of us posted our own “throwback” photos of those bygone days on our EHHS Class of 1965 Facebook page. If Marsha did the “enfolding”, Susan Hunsaker Gregg did the “investigating”, doing an outstanding job of rounding up the lost “clan members” and providing contact info for students and teachers.
Since the day we marched down the aisle to strains of “Pomp and Circumstance”, we have remained remarkably close-knit, in spite of our large class size — roughly four hundred grads. Thanks to Facebook, we have remained even closer and have even met for monthly lunches at our favorite Mexican Inn and the Dixie House Cafe on East Lancaster Avenue and other places in the area.
On Friday evening, the feeling I experienced by being surrounded by my classmates — some I hadn’t seen since graduation — was that it was the closest thing to Heaven, short of seeing my parents, grandparents, departed friends, and, of course, my dogs. Before we lined up for our buffet of fajitas, rice, and beans, our classmate, Ron Sellers, directed everyone to touch someone else and led us in a stirring prayer to thank God for our parents and teachers who brought us to that moment. A video of our high-school memories as well as music from the 1960’s, such as Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” had us dancing in our seats as we ate.
Saturday, May 30 began with the Ladies’ Luncheon in the Garden Room of the Ridglea Country Club. Thanks to Patty Groody Enstrom, Karen Brantley Faulkner, Debbie Maddox Self, Becky Wright Gibbs, and Joann Hooten Mayer and a snort-worthy “stand-up” routine about the highlights of our high-school years delivered by Peggy Brooks Bain, we all dined sumptuously on salad, some chicken dish with angel-hair pasta and cream sauce, grilled zucchini, rolls, and lemon, pecan, and chocolate squares the consistency of brownies. After many more hugs and a group picture, we waved good-bye and “See you tonight!”.
A few hours later, Jeff and I drove out to the Mira Vista Country Club in Benbrook. Many thanks to Jerry Conatser for lining up such a beautiful location and a talented band. As we had been told, a guard would check our names on the list of attendees before opening the gates. Then, thanks to John Sparks for our nametags and the 50th Reunion video. What other words can I use to describe this event other than “absolutely unforgettable”? Otis Schmidt, owner of the 1957 T-bird, was generous in loaning his snazzy little ride for any photo “opps”. With the help of Jan Bussey, she and I contributed parts of our Highlandette uniforms — she, the plumed cap and requisite white Oxford-cloth shirt and me, the vest and blue-gray-and-white wool Tartan skirt. Jerry Wood was the Golf Tournament Chairman and Texas Wesleyan University provided golf prizes. A roving photographer, Dave Roth, snapped group pictures on the staircase and candids of us as we mingled with each other and our teachers: English teacher, Beverly Hanks Weatherford; business teacher, Marjorie Reid McLendon, and Ronnie Martin, our band director.
Of course, there had to be someone to collect our money for this long-awaited shindig. Thank you, Jan Pack for being our treasurer for all these years. Better you than me to handle all that money.
While we mingled, Mira Vista servers circulated with shrimp, shish kebobs, and pecan chicken fingers and expert bartenders served our wine and beer and mixed our cocktails.
And thanks to Jimmy Bilderback for snagging a “real-live” bagpiper to usher in Phil Luebbehusen and Mike Gentry, Class Officers and the Master of Ceremonies.
Then, there was the buffet, offering three kinds of meat — fork-tender chicken, succulent salmon, and juicy beef — plus salad and pan-fried potatoes with their skins left on, and sauteed green beans was well worth the wad of cash we had to pay. Even on top of that were two huge cakes with Eastern Hills Class of ’65. One with chocolate cake, and the other, white. The buttercream frosting was so scrumptious that I was tempted to go back for a bowl of it, by itself.
Of course, the fun of reunions is — well — reuniting with classmates from all over the country. Although there were some who never wandered from the DFW Metroplex, others were from various points in Texas and other states. For example, among the nine at our table on Saturday night were two people I have not seen since junior high and high school. Two of us, Catheleen Jordan and I, are now college professors. Our friend from the East, the talented James Martin, is now an renowned artist living in New York City. Brian and Francine Hilliard — high-school sweethearts — settled in Rockwall, Texas. And Danny and Nancy Webb drove in all the way from picturesque Hot Springs, Arkansas.
After a video reenacting the highlights of our senior years, the band kicked off and the dancing began. I’m still seeing spots before my eyes after what seems like a million cell phone cameras flashing in the dark. At the beginning, couples rushed out to dance to a mixture of 1960’s music such as “Unchained Melody” and “The House of the Rising Sun” and even a few country-western songs such as Jim Reeves’ classic,”Welcome To My World”. Around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., tired husbands rested their “doggies” while we women kicked off our shoes, got out and wiggled and jiggled amongst ourselves and with each other.
At 11:45 p.m., the party started drawing to a close and the band sang their last song. After waving good-bye and yelling, “See you at the monthly lunch” or “See you at the Sixtieth”, we and our pooped-but-patient spouses headed for home.
I can hardly wait for our sixtieth. The beauty of class reunions, as I’ve oberved them, is that the more I’ve attended, the more we all appreciate each other. The more “vintage” we become, the more we experience Life and Her ups and downs and the more we share and empathize with each other.
Photo courtesy of Sharon Patterson