Ottumwa Class of ’54 swings! | Opinion
“Seventeen hot rod queen cutest girl you’ve ever seen tell the world I’m really a fan of my seventeen year old hepcat doll.” Now sloppy shirt, old blue jeans, dirty shoes, by all means, a stain of blonde hair, peroxide, jukebox, baby, that’s not square. âBoyd Bennett and his rockets.
The music lifted the spirits of the class of 54 and they forgot about their lumbago and rigged knees. They stamped their feet and pushed each other to dance, because “Fame and honor that we restore, we are the class of 54!” “
They met at the Ottumwa Hotel on Friday September 17th. Do the math and that works out to 67 years after graduation and 85 years. As a group, they look healthier and more alive than a crowded 65-year-old room. They’re fit and fit, for the most part, and have a refreshing “let’s have fun!” Attitude. And they did.
Out of an original class roster of 371 students, about 35 attended the 67-year-old class reunion. But they are difficult to count. Putting them all together for a group photo is more difficult than herding cats. They all wanted to talk and tell stories.
Couple who now live in Denver: âYou can get the man out of Iowa, but you can’t get the Iowa out of the man. We went to the canteen twice. I graduated from high school, came back, and the same lady is still there.
Browsing through school yearbooks, newspaper clippings and memorabilia, one lady pointed out, âThis is Carol Morris; she was Miss Universe and Miss USA in 1956, and Miss Iowa and, I believe, Miss Ottumwa in 1954. She is the only Miss Iowa to have won the Miss USA pageant. She was the daughter of a pastor and taught Sunday School right here in Ottumwa. The children loved him. She played the violin and was a beautiful synchronized swimmer, like Esther Williams. “
Two former classmates meeting for the first time in many years: “George, your suspenders are getting longer.” George, “Your teeth are too.”
The mic was turned around to tell stories: âMy girlfriend wanted to learn to drive. I took it out. We took a gravel road. It started raining. The gravel turned to mud. The mud got thicker and thicker. We were so deeply buried that the doors would not open. I had to crawl out the window for help. I walked to a farm and a farmer took us out. He said, ‘I know what you’re doing. You kissed. I said, ‘I taught him to drive.’ He said, ‘You taught him well.’ “
Woman: âThe whole choir got on a bus and went to Davenport. We were going to spend the night. As soon as we arrived we all went to the bathroom. I put down my purse. When I got out, my bag was gone. The others offered to lend me money. I said no. My grandmother sewed twenty dollars into my bra. I’ve got plenty of money, honey. I always sew silver in my hems.
Another man: âEddie and I were running on the track. I was running the 100 meter dash. I went to take off my sweatpants and had no shorts on. I said, ‘Eddie, give your shorts.’ We went under the stands and he gave me his shorts. I won the 100 meters with Eddie’s shorts! Eddie said, ‘They should have given me that ribbon.’ Ha!”
The announcement was made to get everyone who wanted another class reunion in five years (they would be 90) to stand up. Almost everyone (who could get up) stood up.
It was very fitting and fitting that the Ottumwa class reunion of ’54, which lasted for 67 years, ended with everyone chanting “God Bless America”.
âGod bless America, the land I love, stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above. From mountains to meadows, to oceans white with foam, God bless America, my sweet home.
Class of ’54 and much more!