More than half the 1962 graduates of Clinton High School recently convened for a 50th reunion. They are (front row from left) Shirlene (Harness) Ward, Glada (Dewey) Eoff, Mary Lou (Long) Lee, Rebecca (Simmons) Smith, Libby (Eason) Sneed, Betty (Swartz) Thompson, Danna (Kirkendoll) Bonds, (second row) Landon Moses, John Thornton, Sharon (Weaver) Beavers, Rita (Brown) Collums, Mickey (Williams) Wellwood, Carol Reed, (back row) Benny Gooden, Ray Bonds, Dwight Hutto, Ray Arnhart, Allen Koonce, Betty (Linn) Johnson, Ron Sikes, Adda Lee (Eaton) Harmon, Rodney Lewis, Twila (Aday) Coffey.
On one thing they all agreed: “Surely it’s not been 50 years!”
That is, until they watched themselves as cheerleaders, athletes, scholars, T-Steppers and mischief-makers, in a visual flashback produced by classmate Dwight Hutto. “Surely we were never that young!”
Convening on the Saturday afternoon of May 19 at First Service Bank in Clinton, the classmates renewed acquaintance, laughed over memorabilia assembled by local planners (a size 4 cheerleaders uniform, senior prom photos, autographed yearbooks).
Twila Aday called the unruly class to order with a tribute to small towns.”Where else but in a small town would the local bank hand over the keys and give us the run of the place on a Saturday afternoon?” She noted there were no known safe-crackers in their midst.
She introduced Dr. Benny Gooden as MC of the afternoon’s program. Gooden, superintendent of schools at Fort Smith, is frequently cited as an authority and spokesman for the American Association of Public Schools, which he serves as president.
“Here he is being quoted on the front page of the New York Times, and he’s identified as Benny Gooden; not Benjamin, nor Ben; pretty much unchanged from the Benny we grew up with.”
Gooden asked individual class members to summarize professional and personal highlights of their lives, including their present-day activities. From animal rescue, to restoration of antique cars, to walking tours of the world, the group related varied and active interests, along with parenting and grandparenting.
The program ended with a tribute to deceased class members: Tommy Holley, Dean Huyck, Johnny Jolly, Larry Joe “Butch” Kidd, Roger McCutcheon, Darvil Lemings, Norwood Frye, Robert Wallace, Doris Huggins and Robert Holloway.