Together again: SCHS classes reunite

Bill White, Bill Riddle and George Weldon go way back.

The trio were teammates on the 1935 Shelby County High School football team. White and Weldon were substitutes. Riddle played left guard.

The gentlemen rehashed memories on Wednesday at Wilsonville United Methodist Church, where the graduating classes of the 1930s and 1940s reunited once more.

“We’re the only three left from the 1935 football team. Thank you Jesus,” said White as he looked at a black and white team photograph. “See that hair. I had a hair full back then.”

White, Riddle and Weldon recalled a few gridiron tales, one being the time they played against the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind in Talladega.

“Boy, they were tough,” White said. “It was the first time we played under lights, and there was an announcer.”

Only nine players traveled to Talladega for the game, Weldon added.

“I was in the car that broke down. We never got to Talladega,” he said. “There are some tales, but we had a time.”

White didn’t recall whether the Wildcats defeated the AIDB team, but Riddle confirmed, “We had some good games.”

The gentleman sat alongside their families and former classmates at tables decorated to look like red and white gift boxes, which symbolized the gift of knowledge, security, hope, fun, laughter and friendship provided by their alma mater.

Helen Rector French, a 1940 SCHS graduate, was chauffeured to the reunion by her son, Kelly French. She now lives in Atlanta.

“I’m the only one wearing the school colors,” said French, who was dressed in a red turtleneck, white pants and red penny loafers.

French got reacquainted with former classmates Evelyn Hall McEwen and Myra Falkner, a self-proclaimed social butterfly.

“I wasn’t a bookworm. I came to school to be with the people,” Falkner said. “In study hall I had trouble. I wasn’t studying but I was communicating with somebody.”

While Helen French caught up with friends, her son browsed through old school photographs with White. Kelly French took pictures of his mother’s class picture with his Blackberry, and sent them to his children. This is Kelly’s second year accompanying his mother to the reunion.

“Sitting around and listening to them talk is interesting,” Kelly said. “And the food is delicious.”

White and Buck Falkner, the event coordinators, said the reunion serves two purposes – visiting and eating. This year’s menu included baked ham, steak and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, purple hull peas, copper penny carrots, pickled beets, cornbread, muffins and a dessert bar.

The graduates said a prayer before dining and agreed to meet next year – same time, same place.