Thursday, September 01, 2011

My 50th Lawton High School Class Reunion

Originally posted September 1, 2011; updated on September 6 & 8 to show reunion photos.

News Flash: Lawton High will be open for touring at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday). I don't know how long that will last.

As you can see from the above photo in the 1961 Lawton High School yearbook, Lawton High in 1961 was no small school. Its sophomore-junior-senior population was well above 2,000, and my senior graduating class exceeded 600, many of whom I never met.

In that context, how does one get prepared for his/her 50th high school reunion at one of 1961's largest high schools in the state? If one comes from a small high school, it's probably not that much of a challenge. But if coming from one of the largest, preparing for the 50th reunion can be daunting.

Jump to the September 3 photos

Lawton Roots. Although born in Oklahoma City and having lived and/or worked here since 1966 during my time in law school at the University of Oklahoma, I was largely reared in Lawton beginning in the 3rd grade. I was one of more than 600 graduates from Lawton High School in 1961. Today, Lawton/Ft. Sill's population is around 100,000, and the city has 3 principal high schools. But when I graduated Lawton's population was a bit over 60,000 and there was only one principal high school, Lawton High School, one of the premier high schools in the state. In fact, in 1962, Home of Champions was a title bestowed on LHS by the Oklahoma State Legislature, when Lawton High won all five of the major sports State Championship titles, even though before 1962, LHS was not at all shabby in its athletic accomplishments.

It is from my Lawton High School days that my beginnings into the value of civic pride were born. Before graduation, I made road maps of everything in the country coming through Lawton. I relished in the fact that Lawton was then the 3rd largest city in the state. Even though those civic pride sensations have since transferred to Oklahoma City where I was born and where I live today, Lawton and Lawton High is/are where my sensory perceptions of the value of civic pride began.

How To Prepare For A Reunion. To prepare for this auspicious reunion, I concluded that it would help to review each of the high school yearbooks associated with this class, with a focus on activities that I or my high school sweetheart were associated with, and then carry it forward beyond the 1961 graduation. The next 10 pages show that sequence over time spanning 52 years.

For starters, it is accurate to classify me as a "nerd" — my interests were band (1958 and ending in fall 1959) and debate (all 3 high school years). I'm still a nerd else I wouldn't have been doing Doug Dawgz Blog since 2006. And I'm damn proud of it.

Click on any image for a much larger view.


Since the 5th grade, instrumental music was part of my upbringing, and I played the cornet. As a sophomore, I gained a superior in the state band contest, much to my and everyone's surprise. Linda Tozier was my piano accompanist. In March 1959, the band took a trip to Corpus Christi to participate in the Buccaneer Band Festival and that is when my love affair with Corpus Christi began. Although I dropped out of band in the fall of 1959 so that I could spend more time with debate, band was an important part of my high school career. The photo below is the 1959 Lawton High School Band from the 1959 yearbook.

Page 1 of my Reunion Review, 1958-1959

Page 2 of my Reunion Review, 1959-1960

Pages 3-6 of my Reunion Review, 1960-1961

Page 7 of my Reunion Review, at OSU 1961-65

Page 8 of my Reunion Review, at OU 1965-1968

Page 9 of my Reunion Review, Post-1968

Page 10 of my Reunion Review, Lawton High

The Mountains. For a high schooler in Lawton, mention must be made of the Wichita Mountains. Everyone in Lawton referred to the Wichita Mountains simply as "the mountains" and I've blogged about the Wichitas previously. As high school kids, that's where we often hung out, doing various and sundry things in the process ... some things are better left unsaid in a blog post like this. Here are a few photos taken much later than our 1961 graduation but it wasn't that much different then.

In 1990

My Kids Treating Me To A Meersburger, July 2010

In Medicine Park, July 2010

The Reunion Flyer. Aside from yearbooks and my own photos, the next valuable preparation tool was the 4-page flyer which announced and described the 3-day reunion over Labor Day weekend. As I said, we had more than 600 in our graduating class, many of whom I never met. About 280 of them were identified as whereabouts unknown, and another 43 were reported as dead. The 3rd step was to accept the fact of mortality and missing persons and that days gone by cannot be wholly recreated. Remembrances, for sure; wishful thinking about immortality, not at all. Anyway, combining the missing and the dead, that whittled about 323 people off of the list of who to possibly expect to see. I don't remember the exact count of graduates ... like I said it was over 600. Using 610 as the number, that leaves about 287 who might be present during the 50th reunion.

Talking with one of the reunion organizers, I understand that about 140 or so have registered to be present. That means that approximately 23% of our graduating class, which is about 50% of those whose who are presumed living and whose whereabouts are known, will be attending. Cathryn, who lives in Egypt, will be there, as will my high school buddy, Tony, who lives in Florida, among many many others.

My high school sweetheart and 1st wife and mother of our children (David, Mary) Liz (left), will attend, but, sadly, my high school debate partner, Judy (right), who lives in Alaska, will not. I'd love to talk with her again. Still, I'm very much looking forward to this 50th class reunion and seeing again and talking with any who are present.

But will I recognize them when I see them? Better put, have a look at me in 1961 and what I look like now and ask, will I be recognized by them?

I'll let you know after I return from the dinner dance scheduled for Saturday, September 3, at the Lawton Country Club, with pictures from the auspicious evening.


SEPTEMBER 3 PHOTOS. The Labor Day Weekend reunion is now done and I had an outstanding time attending events on Saturday, September 3. My wife and I paid a few extra dollars to stay at the Hampton Inn in Lawton, thinking from prior experience with the same hotel brand that the extra money would be worth it -- but, in our opinion, the hotel facility was really quite average and disappointing even though the hotel staff was excellent. The fact that several others attending the reunion also stayed there helped to make up for the hotel's shortcomings.

I've weeded out a few pics that I took and saved 75. The photos begin in the morning with a brief tour of Lawton High School which Sue Otis Wigington kindly arranged. Then, I took some photos at the Girlfriends Brunch at the Silver Spoon Restaurant in downtown Lawton, and, finally, at the dinner dance at the Lawton Country Club. A slideshow made by Photobucket is shown below ... you can right-click on the show to zoom in or out if you want. Move your mouse over the slide show for pause, backward, and forward controls ... unfortunately, speed cannot be controlled in the slideshow and it moves rather quickly.

A larger image slideshow containing more description of individual photos is available in the Photobucket LHS Reunion Album slideshow and it's better than the above.
Individual photos (1024 px wide) are stored in my Photobucket account here but they are also shown in the table below. Either way, click on a small image and a larger image, typically 1024 pixels wide, will open. To save a larger photo that you want, right-click on the larger photo and a menu will pop-up. In the Firefox and Chrome browsers, a menu item reads, "Save image as ..." and in IE Explorer a menu item reads, "Save picture as ... ." Select the "save" item and save it to where you want on your computer.
Individual Photos & Thumbnails. Click on any small image below for a 1024 px wide view. A brief description of each photo appears below the image.

LHS Class of 1961 50th Reunion

Mary Jo Watson at LHS

Doug Loudenback at LHS
The auditorium was being renovated, all seats having been removed (a pic showing remnant seats appears below inside the school office). The photo of the stage shows the original curtains at the top.

Seats All Gone

Auditorium Stage

Athletic Trophy Case

Wolverine Logo in Main Entry

Some 1961 Trophies

Mary Jo Walking the Halls
The original lockers haven't changed.
Outside the School Office
Wolverine From Outside

Wolverine From Inside Office
This was a gift by the class of 1962, I'm told.

Inside the School Office
Principal's Office, left; Asst. Principal, right
(I had to visit Mr. Hancock in the latter on one occasion, as I recall)

Hall Surveillance Monitors Inside the Office
(Not nearly as personal as our old "hall monitors")

Remnant Auditorium Seats

Speech & Drama Trophies

Walking East Toward Cafeteria
An inside view of the formerly smoking courtyard

New & Expanded Cafeteria

Not Like Our Cafeteria, For Sure
Girlfriends Brunch.
This event was in the old Johnson's Dairy at 6th & C Streets.
Now, it is the Silver Spoon Restaurant. One guy attended, too.

Tony White, Liz McCutchen Pearson, Janet Bost Armstrong

Tony & Liz

Tony, Liz & Janet

Various Graduates

Various Graduates

Sue Otis Wigington & Dixie Massad Sheridan
Having looked at Dixie's photography website, she may well be the most accomplished member of our class.

Pam Guzzle Kinzer, Lynda Freeman
Ozwalt, Ingrid Fuller Hogue, & others

The Room Was Packed With Gals
Who Just Wanted To Have Fun

The Place Was Raining Women --
Cathryn Goddard, right, came from Egypt

Ingrid Fuller Hogue, Shirley
Scott Pace & Many More

Shirley Scott Pace

Dixie Greer Walker

Beverly Davis (Don's Wife)

Pat Stephens Skuda
Dinner Dance at Lawton Country Club
Dan & Sue Wigington made the arrangements for the event at the club which, if one was disposed, included golf and swimming during the day. Mary Jo and I only attended the evening festivities. I apologize in advance for not getting everyone's photo and for not knowing everyone's names, even though not all wore their name tags. I have a crappy memory. After the dinner and round-the-room introductions and the not-always-brief biographies, the entertainment began with classmate Tony Cerveny and his wife Lynn putting on a South American dance show which was simply superb. Who'da thunk it!

Tony Cerveny

Lynn Cerveny

Ferne Hooper Mizell and her husband Walter liked it.

After that, I walked around the room and took the following photos. If I don't know or recall a name, it is not shown. On learning them or if I've made mistakes, I'll be glad to make changes.

Hans Giroux

Cathryn Goddard

Wayne Littlefield
Sue Otis Wigington

Mary Jo Watson

Pat Stephens Skuda (red tops)
Hans Giroux

Brenda and Gary Rigsby
Roger Pursley, Ann Shepard Tubbs
Gary Tubbs

Gordon Atchley

Derald & Shirley Hankins
Ahlsclager, Don Davis, Shirlene
Littlefield (?), Sue Otis

Derald & Shirley Hankins
Ahlschlager, Don Davis, Wayne Littlefield

Greg Sharp

Billie Ruth Bish Fargo
Bill Fargo

Billie Ruth Bish Fargo
Kaye Thompson McCarley & Bill Fargo

Billie Ruth Bish Fargo
If we still did "Best Looking" designations, she'd get my vote.

Paul Baker
Tony White

Paul Baker, Tony White
Robert HaithCock

Robert Haithcock

Michael Hogue & Ingrid Fuller
Hogue, Shirley Scott Pace
Pam Guzzle Kinzer

Doug Roper, Sherry Kemp Bly
Dennis Bly, Ann Shepard Tubbs

Betty Hennessee Watts, Dennis Bly

Jerry Boucher, Mary Martin
Boucher, Vanda Marie Clark
Halbrooks, James Halbrooks
Jerry Hurst, Glenda Cast Hurst

Les & Sue Campbell
Judy Witt

Joyce Isaacs Keyes, Alan
Aycock, Martha & Butch Keiningham

Joyce Isaacs Keyes
Alan Aycock

Paula Evans Biondi

The Dance Floor

Mary Jo Watson

Nancy Eubanks Oelklavs

Pat Stephens Skuda (red)

Lynda Freeman Oswalt
Sherry Kemp Bly

Pam Guzzle Kinzer
Lynda Freeman Oswalt

Doug Roper, Nancy Eubanks
Oelklavs, Michael Hogue
Ingrid Fuller Hogue

Nancy Eubanks Oelklavs
Cathryn Goddard, Wayne Littlefield
Cathryn was obviously wearing her sheik Egyptian attire while attempting to lure others to join her and Nancy in doing the hula dance, but there were few takers.

Mary Jo wasn't feeling well so we left early, around 9:45 or so, so I didn't get any more photos. I hear that Honest Don and Wayne put on quite an Abbott/Costello show that left everyone in stiches after I left. I'd love to have heard it. Anyway, I hope to see everyone again at the 55th Reunion in 2016, and thanks again to Dan and Sue Otis Wigington and all the rest for a great time and a job very well done!

Me in 1961

Me in July 2011

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Billie Ruth said...

Great Doug! I really enjoyed that! I'm sorry your missed Honest Don and Wayne's comedy act. They play off each other well and left everyone laughing and occasionally groaning. Sue and Dan did such a wonderful job of organizing everything. We can't thank them enough. Merci for the compliment. Made my day :-) It was so great seeing everyone..I look forward to staying in touch.

Lynda Freeman Oswalt said...

Doug, Thanks for making all those lovely photos available for a reality check and a refresher of my memories of a great time. Lynda Freeman Oswalt

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, ladies! It was so very good to see all you youngin's again.

Mike N. said...

One thing, or many, I can do to help Ed is vote out my current City Councilman and get him some help on the City Council.

Anonymous said...

Although I didn't graduate from Lawton High in 1961 (Harrah '61), my sister was LHS class of 1964. I really enjoyed seeing these people after all these years...especially the guys I played football with. Thank you so much, Doug.
Dennis Frank Robinson, Tomlinson JHS

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, Frank. I've very much enjoyed our recent email exchanges. Your sister graduated from LHS with my ex-sister-in-law (and good friend of mine) then named Barbara Jean McCutchen in 1964.

Tony Cerveny said...

Mr. Doug,

I thank you very much for all of your efforts to prepare this site for all of us at the 50th. Reunion!!

Lynn and I enjoyed the Reunion very much.

I wish I would have had more time to chat with you -- maybe at the next Reunion.

I got to play golf with Paul Baker & Bill Fargo which was very enjoyable.

We are still here in Sun City just north of Austin, TX.

Tony William Cerveny

Doug Dawg said...

Many thanks, Tony. My only regret is that I didn't have more time to spend with you and others but perhaps that will improve with the next reunion. I say again, you and Lynn dancing was one of the premier events of Saturday night ... I am totally envious, always having wanted to be a good dancer but not succeeding particularly well. Thanks again.