Back in late June, the Pascagoula High School Class of 1966, my class, held its 55th Class Reunion (one year off because of COVID) over a sometimes raucous and often emotional weekend.
On Friday night, we were graciously hosted by classmate Hal Walker and wife Mary at their beautiful home on the Pascagoula River bluff in South Gautier. Then, on Saturday night, we gathered for a traditional event, complete with program, at the Grand Magnolia Ballroom. In and around these scheduled moments, class members from near and far got together and hung out informally.
Admitting to being biased, I have to say that our Class of ’66 has always been an exceptional group of compatriots. Once, in an informal poll of PHS teachers of the era, we were named as their favorite class of the 1960s. We were accomplished during our time at the school, and have always been close-knit, then and now.
Check this out: the Class of ’66 has now gathered for 11 reunions in the 56 years since we graduated, never missing an incremental year situation, plus adding in other functions, such as 60th and 70th birthday parties. From talking to members of other high school classes, this number of get-togethers seems to be unusually high. (Writer’s note: a lot of this continuity is due to a dedicated reunion committee led over most of the years by the tireless Peggy Pittman Eley. Thanks, Peg.)
Hey, we do like to come together, see each other, and have a big time. This year’s weekend was no exception. Here are just a few random notes/highlights.
- One of the best scams I’ve ever seen was perpetrated by John Fisher. Fish, a fine fellow who I shared the stage with in class and drama club plays, used all his acting skills in this one. Big John, now living in Slidell, has never been married, a confirmed bachelor—or so we thought. As several of us entered the Grand Magnolia Saturday evening, John motioned to us and said, “I’d like you folks to meet my new wife”. He then introduced us to Tallulah, a 35ish or so knockout who was just as charming as she was attractive. After leaving us with our mouths agape, John paraded her around the room for the next half-hour, creating a buzz throughout the room. Only when the program was about to start did he reveal that “Tallulah” was actually a young lady he had met in a bar earlier that evening who had agreed to join him in the charade. Talk about a classic gotcha moment—loved it.
- One of the first guys I saw when I arrived was Bobby Goldman, whom I haven’t seen in years. No great story here—just the joy on our faces when we shook hands and renewed acquaintances. I’m sure this moment was repeated by many others during that night.
- Part of the program was a Class of ’66 rendition of “Jeopardy” (brainchild of my pal Gary Stevens), with the Q&As related to class members, activities, teachers, and 60s pop culture. It was a hoot. The winner was Paulette Waldrop Harwell, always a good soul and class activist–she handled the Final Jeopardy question with aplomb:
Answer: This elite group met each afternoon after school five days a week.
Question: What was the Sunset Club? (Our slang for detention hall.)
- It was getting really late at the Friday night event, and, needing to head out, we couldn’t get Dick Ingwersen to quit talking and get in the car. Dick lives in Atlanta and has never missed a reunion. I said to his wife Terry, “hey, we need to go—see if you can get him to move”. Terry said, “look, I’ve been putting up with this kind of thing for years, but this is different. This is Dick’s place—this is where he loves to be”. I think that says a lot about our class and its closeness.
- At the Saturday event, we opened the program by singing the PHS fight song and closed by singing the alma mater, both a cappella. That may seem dated and a bit maudlin to some, but it felt good, and there were more than a few tears in the eyes. Hey, we didn’t sound half bad, either.
More than anything, the Class of ’66 reunions give us all a chance to renew friendships, check up on each other, and tell stories old and new. Next up will be our 60th reunion in 2026. We may be getting older, but as the last stanza of the alma mater goes, we still feel “true to you to the end, dear P-H-S”, and, I might add, true to each other.
Columnist Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected]