Longtime friends make effort to stay close

Published 2:23 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

Old friends are the best.

That’s certainly the thinking of the members of Montevallo High School’s class of 1945 who met for a Christmas luncheon early in December.

Eight of those graduates, their spouses and other schoolmates had a wonderful day sharing memories of the good, and sometimes the sad, times. World War II ended in 1945 and perhaps those troubled war years caused this unusual bond of friendship. Several of the men who attended the luncheon had been classmates but finished high school a year early to join the armed forces. Most of the remaining young men reported for service the day of graduation.

The class of 1945 graduates at the luncheon included Eleanor Ruth Lawley Boothe, Catherine Bridges Legg, Doris Chism Lien, Frances Lippeatt Harrell, Zenoba McCulley Lucas, Howard Lucas, O. D. (Buddy) Mitchum and Mary Alice Edwards Rhea. Those attendees who had finished school early to join the service were Roy Hicks, Harvey Rochester, Truman Shaw and M. C. (Mack) Smith.

“I think the class of ‘45 is unique and probably the only one that meets monthly,” saidd Mitchum. “It’s always a joy to see everyone, be brought up-to-date on their families and to reflect on our youth.”

Lien, who made all of the arrangements for the luncheon, said, “These friends are so special; organizing the reunions is a privilege.”

If one were eavesdropping as the folks enjoyed their food, they would quickly recognize that this was an unusually close-knit group. They remembered the class of about 35 who: played baseball and basketball (there was no football program because of the war), jitterbugged to the music of the juke box in the gym, walked home or to the elementary school cafeteria for lunch, enjoyed sipping a coke at Wilson Drug after school and maybe held hands or stole their first kiss while watching the latest movie at the Strand.

Often someone would tearfully mention Billy Peck, Harvey Lee Riffe and others who are deceased. Peck was, no doubt, a genius, but physically handicapped. These classmates loved Billy and watched out for him. Sometimes he concentrated so deeply that he forgot where he was and had to be rescued. Riffe read the devotional almost every morning. The males remembered how strong he was and everyone could still hear him singing How Great Thou Art.

Most of the classmates rarely miss one of their monthly meetings. The love and friendship seem to grow stronger with the passing of the years.

Catherine Legg can be reached at clegg2@bellsouth.net