Bill McCaw's 50th Remarks

Bill McCaw’s Remarks on Saturday, July 21, 2017, on the occasion of the 50th Reunion of the 1967 classes of Lafayette and Tates Creek High Schools, Lexington, KY.

 

Good evening.  The Tates Creek-Lafayette reunion committees welcome everyone to the second night celebrating the 50-year anniversary of our 1967 graduation.  To those of you who are not graduates, but were forced to attend this affair, I hope you can persevere for another evening.  For graduates, it is an opportunity to reminisce about the good old days, and to renew friendships made years ago.

For those of you who were not present last night, I would like to introduce the reunion committees, so if the committee members would stand as I call their names:

From Tates Creek:

Becky Davidson Carr, Raymond Carr, Martha McLohon, Dale Balsom Muse, David Muse, Judy Mefford Shropshire

From Lafayette:

Larry Brewer, Rick Day, Mark Dennis Kathy Allen Jansen, Jean Noel McCaw, BI Murrell, Charlotte Allen Neal, Joy Williams Phillips, Pat Ritchey, Rose McAuliffe Sellers, Curtis Sharff, Bryan Tate, and Alan Finch.

Alan, would you please come forward?  Alan has been integral for all the reunions we have had.  He has researched classmates, both alive and dead, by methods most of us would never know existed.  He has maintained current addresses, email addresses, obituaries, etc. for as may graduates as he can locate.  This information has allowed the reunion committees to spend more time planning, and much less time locating classmates.  Also, Alan has an extensive collection of records that he maintains under the heading of “Stacks of Wax.”  He has supplied music for our reunions on multiple occasions.  And, today is Alan’s birthday.  Any guesses about age?  So for Alan, we have a gift that represents a huge thank for his efforts toward making our reunions successful, and Happy Birthday.

For those of you who were not here last night, I would like to introduce John R. Saunders.  Would John Saunders come forward?  John is a ’67 Tates Creek graduate residing in California.  Early in the planning for our 50th reunion, John notified the reunion committee of his willingness to provide financial assistance to make this event special.  And provide he did!  Without John’s gift to the “Classes of ’67,” the cost to each graduate for this weekend’s activities would have been just under $300.  Let’s show John our appreciation. And please be sure to thank all those who worked to make this reunion possible.

As president of the 1967 Class at Lafayette, I have the honor of addressing this assembly of Lafayette graduates.  And because the 1967 Senior Class president of Tates Creek is deceased, for tonight I am the de facto speaker for the Tates Creek class as well.  But the speaker doesn’t matter because the relationship between Tates Creek graduates and Lafayette graduates are unique, and what applies to one group applies to the other as well. What led us to our unique relationship is the subject of this talk.

Most of us began elementary school in 1955, part of the Baby Boomer generation.  Many of us walked or rode bikes to school, and students and parents felt safe.  Those who needed transportation to school usually rode the bus, unlike today when there are daily traffic snarls caused by parents driving their kids to school.  But whether we realized it or not, the outside world was having an influence on us.  Not only did we have fire drills, we also had bomb drills.  Jonas Salk developed a polio vaccine, and we were all vaccinated.  Elvis was on the The Ed Sullivan Show.  Some of us were not allowed to watch. Others did not have a television.  We developed friendships.  We played outside.

The veterans that came home form WWII were prolific breeders, and student numbers continued to increase dramatically.  Because Fayette County had failed to pass a school tax, many of us started moving to other schools, away from our comfort zones.  Many in this room were transferred to Leestown to finish up the sixth grade.  The student bodies that were to become the Tates Creek and Lafayette classes of 1967 were beginning to mix.  By the time we finished elementary school, the Russians had launched Sputnik, beginning the space race; Alaska and Hawaii had become states; Bonanza was on TV, in color; and John Kennedy was President of the United States.

Then in 1961, came Hamilton Hall, where many of us met for the first time.  The seventh grade had to be one of our most memorable years.  Girls and boys noticed each other.  We began changing classes.  Some of worked in Baileyville.  The first time I addressed a student body was at Hamilton Hall.  Many of you were present that day.  I was to speak to the students that were assembled on the front lawn below the porch, and to present some awards to various students.  Just before I was to speak, I dropped all my notes.  When I bent over to pick them up, I ripped the crotch of my pants--all the way.  I can still picture Mac Bailey tying to stifle a laugh as we looked for some sort of cover-up.  But away from Hamilton hall, many things were happening that would affect us for years to come.  The Vietnam War had officially started; Alan Shepherd had flown in space; Betty Gail Brown was murdered; and Dwight Price was our PE teacher and coach.

By the eighth grade, overcrowding had forced double sessions for Fayette County students.  Morning and afternoon sessions once again divided our student body.  Schools were being constructed, but not in time to prevent double sessions.  I want everyone here to consider the uproar that would occur today if double sessions were implemented.  In my opinion, our parents and our teachers, were conditioned by hardships that would not be tolerated today.  Events like the Great Depression, WWII, the Korean War, had educated them that difficult times will come and people must cope with them.  Overall, we got a good eight-grade education.  After all, there were bigger issues in the world.  John Glenn had orbited the Earth; the Cuban Missile Crisis had the world in a panic; and our group was headed for another new school.

I do not know how many schools had ninth grade classes for our group.  I think Leestown, Jessie Clark, and Tates Creek accounted for most of us, maybe Morton and Catholic as well.  Again, new faces were mingled with familiar ones, joined together in some grand scheme to get us to attend as many different schools as possible.  It was a unique year, especially for those of us in Ms. Taylor’s room at Jessie Clark.  It was unique for another reason.  On November 22, 1963, the schools became silent.  Teachers were whispering and crying.  President Kennedy had been assassinated.  For a bunch of 14-year-old teenagers, it was a wake up call; our country may not be as safe as we thought it was. 

For most of us, high school began in the fall of 1964.  Most of the people at this reunion returned to Lafayette.  The sophomores that would eventually be the Classes of ’67 at both Lafayette and Tates Creek were back together.  The other Fayette County public high schools were Bryan Station, Henry Clay, and Dunbar.  Due to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act I the summer of 1964, Dunbar’s days were numbered.  Some of attended Catholic on occasion.  But a new school, Tates Creek High School, would open in the fall of 1965, and the large sophomore class at Lafayette, represented by many of us present tonight, would be divided for the last time.  As we began our junior, year, Tates Creek and Lafayette became cross-town rivals, but competition is somehow different when you are friends with the opposition.  As we progressed through high school the war in Vietnam intensified, and protests again the war intensified.  Muhammad Ali declared himself a conscientious objector.  At Lafayette and Tates Creek High Schools, and at high schools across the nation, there was a realization that decision time was coming fast.  Whether to continue our education or to enlist or be drafted into the military, or to move to Canada, was a decision all senior males had to make.  It was a life and death decision, a decision that had a tremendous effect on our lives, on who we are today. 

Would all veterans stand to be recognized?

So here we are at an event celebrating 50 years of life after our 1967 graduation.  There's an old country music song that says you can’t make old friends, but here tonight, we are among old friends.  So let’s celebrate.  Thank you.