, Port Arthur, Texas

Letters to the Editor

July 4, 2011

TJ class of 61 reunion

PORT ARTHUR —  We were one of the largest classes of our generation to graduate from Thomas Jefferson. One of our witty classmates invented the phrase, “If the class of ‘61 can’t do it, it can’t be  done,” by Linda Tomlin, who is a school administrator.

The class of ‘61 grew up in the 50s in a small clos-knit town called Port Arthur, which had one of everything: One set of parents, one telephone that never had to be replaced, one drive-in that served greasy hamburgers that we utilized after a hard night on the drag and one movie theater attended by kids of all ages that showed G-rated movies before we knew what G rated movies were.

Port Arthur kept the big city chains out, so there were numerous mom and pop stores. But the soul of the town was the football games. Our athletic boys were the rock stars of the town. Young boys looked up to them and young girls dreamed of becoming Red Hussars or Twirlers in the incredible T.J. Band. Many of us walked the walk or took the bus. Most families had one car. Mine had a car from the 40’s that I was embarrassed to ride in. I would tell my mom and dad to leave me a block from the school so no one would see me in it. Everything was simpler in this small town. It was void of sex, drugs and foul language in public areas, as well as on the television and movies. We were sheltered by our parents until they felt we were mature enough to handle life. It was a “Leave It To Beaver” mentality, with a mother waiting to greet you as you came home from school, but waiting for your dad to come home from work in order to spank you when you misbehaved or give a boring long lecture.

The reunion is still on my mind and it was a back to the past experience. For a moment I was back in high school. I did more staring than talking because I kept remembering their high school faces rather that the life enriched faces of the present. The Hussard Alumni played at the reunion and they were incredible. They sounded just like they did in high school. So much that men and women had tears and chills alike.

There must have been 200 attending the reunion. We honored the 68 who had passed on, among them, being a war hero that died in Vietnam.

If the class of ‘61 can’t do it, it can’t be done. Well, Jimmy Johnson did. He survived the revolution of the 60’s, the Dallas Cowboys and went on to fame and fortune after winning the championship in Florida. He managed to survive it all because the credentials that remained with him taught by his parents, his church and his mentors. But the best thing that he did not survive, was Survivor. I believe he is better off for it. We want to thank Sandy Marsh Boyd and their committee, Jean Kay Domingue Moreau, Paul Fitzer and Jimmy Johnson for financing a website, set up by Paul Fitzer for the class of ‘61. No matter who you are or where you are in life the class of ‘61 is interested in you.

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