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Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Class of '68 Reunion: These Guys Really Know How to Throw A Party


The Douglass Reunions are two years apart, but at least one of the classes doesn't need a good reason to come together to fellowship.

The Class of 1968 actually graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1968, two years after Douglass High School closed. The graduates would have been the Douglass Class of 1968, and as alumnus Don Hickman once said, "we may have graduated from D-B, but we were all educated at Douglass," and for that reason, everyone who attended D-B from Douglass, considers their time of graduation as being from Douglass.

It's a wonderful way to remember your heritage and legacy.

In accordance with that, the distinguished "Douglass Class of 68" held a reunion of its classmates on Saturday, October 18, 2008 at the Golden Corral in Kingsport, and there's one thing about the Class of '68.. they throw down a good party.

It was, in a word.. FANTASTIC!

"We wondered what to call this class reunion," Bert Webb told the group. "I thought, well what's the one thing we all have in common besides Riverview, Douglass and our continued friendships?"

"The fact that we are all still standing."

One special time during the banquet was everybody recounting many of the things about Douglass and Riverview, that make their memories so special.

Those memories came fast, furious, and with plenty of laughter sprinkled in. For example:

"We were walking on top of Clay Hill, and I happened to be behind Jo-Jo Gilmore. And one thing that sticks out in my memory every time I think about Douglass, when I think about field trips, and here I am, going up Clay Hill, behind Jo-Jo Gilmore in the 6th Grade, and he had tried to put a process in his hair. It dripped all behind him and kept hitting me in the face!"

"I don't ever remember that," Joe said.

Here's another memory: "I remember a field trip, I don't remember with who, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Owens, or somebody.. and the car broke down in the Smoky Mountains.. We went into this truck stop, about 20-25 of us.. On the counter was like, a full rack of sunglasses. When we walked out.. the sunglasses rack was empty.. but nobody's wearing sunglasses."

And another: "When the chorus went to Lynch, Kentucky, we went into this restaurant and they didn't want to serve us. We were looking good in our pale green.. We all bought hamburgers, and threw 'em right back at 'em!"

And still another: "Bert went to Allen School (the Allen High School for Girls in Asheville), and we all got brave.. and we get this idea that we are going to sneak out of the dorm with our boyfriends and go into the city. She didn't even have a boyfriend, but she was going right along with us. We got stopped by the police. I ain't never been so scared in all my life. When we got back up on the hill (where Allen was), we just knew it was all over with, and we were trying to climb back up in these popular trees back up to our windows. Bert hadn't done a thing, except follow us. We got back up on top of that mountain, got IN the room, open the bathroom door, just start vomiting. I was glad we made it back in, before that happened out in front of the police."

Here'a one: "Y'all remember Mr. Steele? We had them choir robes, and had some good singing, with them reversible collars."

An afternoon of good times, grew somber as the group remembered friends and loved ones now gone. "We tried to think of a lot of things to memorialize the Class of 68," said class member Frank Horton. "We decided on the lighting of a single candle."

After a Moment of Silence.. everybody in the group recited the name of a lost loved one. It was a brother here, a sister there, a friend here, a neighbor there.. a classmate here, a 'cut-buddy' there. All around the room.. everybody remembered a name, among them.. Clarence McKnight.. Billy Bond.. Mary Carpenter.. George Foster.. Ronnie Releford.. Cookie Releford.. Marshall Davis.. Henry Stokely.. Yolanda Webb.. just so many names of folks who have touched the lives of the neighborhood, and how thankful we were to have them in ours.

"All of those people's names we called," Bert Webb told the group, "would have been right here in the midst of all of us having fun, celebrating and remembering the heritage of Douglass, and we know that they are all here right now, celebrating with us, and Pete, get off my back!" That brought a rousing laugh and applause from the group, and reminded everybody of just how much fun the ones now gone, were.

"We don't know what's going to happen to us when we leave here, not even the next five minutes," Bert said, "but right now, everybody stand up."

The group rose to its feet.

"Here's to the Class of 68.. we are still standing!"

With that toast, the applause flowed, the hugs continued, and the good time continued. Friendships were caught up on, family updates were plentiful, and the good food at the Golden Corral was excellent.

In the middle of the revilry and remembrances, from Brenda Huff Bond, one of the surprises of the banquet. "I just got a phone call from Atlanta from daughter Denese Bond, that 'everybody in this room needs to be on their best behavior, because they are watching us on the Douglass Website right now."

That brought down the house.

"Hello out there in cyberspace.. you ain't seen nothing yet." Bert mentioned others who said they'd be watching, and greetings and a bunch of "wish-you-were-here's" rallied around the room (EDITOR'S NOTE: please let us know if you watched the special live streaming. If for some reason, you signed in and wasn't able to view it, please let us know at: This helps us improve the process).

The banquet wasn't the only event that brought the alumni together. The group danced the night away at the Elks Club later that evening. Admission was $5.00, and after the D-J got paid, the rest of the money was dedicated to the Douglass Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.

Frank Horton encouraged everybody to help support the Scholarship Fund, one of the Association's biggest projects.

A wonderful and joyous banquet at the Golden Corral that help cement friendships forever, culminated with the singing of the Douglass School Song.

"We are the Sons and Daughters of Douglass,

Most loyal and true.

We love our school colors,

the Gold and the Blue.

We love the task that stood before us,

We always try to win..


Is the motto of Douglass High!"

It was indeed, a special reunion for the Class of '68.

SPECIAL NOTE: Thanks to the Class of 68 for the gift you all gave me. You are very special people, and I love you all. You all, are the very meaning of the word "family." The gift was very nice, and I will use it to continue providing alumni, our friends and neighbors with news and photos of our community and our Alumni Association!