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Archive for Saturday, October 26, 1996

LIONS MEET FOR MOMENT OF PRIDE

October 26, 1996

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Alumni of all decades were reintroduced Friday afternoon to Lawrence High School, as the red and black celebrated its last homecoming as the only game in town.

The hallowed Lawrence High Homecoming in the last year of solitude for the red and black. The end of Lawrence's era as a one high school town, before Free State High starts a new age next year.

And the topic of conversation? Is it academic standards, athletic records, prestige?

"Girls," joked Jimmy Hill, class of '60. "We're looking for the queens of 1960."

Any luck?

"No, we haven't found any," Hill said.

Chesty Lions of old, representing almost every decade in the 20th century, gathered Friday afternoon to celebrate Lawrence High traditions and reminisce.

"It's really nostalgic," principal Brad Tate said. "There are people here I haven't seen for years."

Inside the recently reconstructed front halls and cafeteria of the school, 19th and Louisiana, graduates chatted and smiled as current students strummed and tapped a musical montage of jazz, movie themes and classic orchestrations.

Cheese, crackers and fruit were neatly placed on napkins as Tate calmly announced organized tours over the intercom.

Out front, massive grills smoked and hamburgers were downed as paw-painted faces walked among the laughing alumni and administrators, each trying to top the other's lies.

Dignified remembrance in, electric tailgating out. Take your pick.

"I haven't seen anybody from my year yet," said Vivian Fawl, class of '24, while seated in the cafeteria. "A lot of them are gone."

A member of the first class to graduate from the old Liberty Memorial High School -- now Central Junior High -- Fawl said she spent her weeks in town during the school year. Students who lived in rural area stayed in "light housekeeping rooms" near the school. They went home on weekends.

"In those days, they didn't take you to school," Fawl said. "You went to school."

At a nearby table, a group of former cheerleading pals talked of going to school during the "Happy Days" years.

"We had sock hops, Chevy convertibles, classic cars ... now they're classic cars," said Sharon Ward Newell, class of '58.

Skirts to mid-calf, only. Unless it was Friday, then jeans, maybe.

"It was a naive time, a simple life compared to today," Newell said.

And the game day philosophy was even simpler.

"I can't remember when the football team didn't win," said Doris Evans Williams, class of '57. "If you always win, games are fun."

Former LHS football coach Bill Freeman would agree. A grand master of Friday's parade, Freeman said he tries to take in three or four games a season.

"It's kind of fun to come back and watch 'em play," Freeman, who now lives in LeRoy, said.

Outside among the tailgaters, John and Pat Scott, both class of '61, tried to bring a touch of reverence to the day's activities.

"We think this is great," Scott said. "This is a nice touch to the end of a one high school community."

But former LHS football players Hill and Bob Cheek, class of '60, pulled more chains than punches. And tongue was firmly in cheek.

Hill first introduced himself as Tom Black, another '60 grad. Cheek introduced himself as Hill.

Chuckling, they blamed it on their background.

Hill: "I'm on probation."

Cheek: "I got a poor education at Lawrence High. I had to come back here to get a free hamburger."

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