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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Gaffney High Class of 1971 Celebrates 45th

       I've gotten a little surprisingly maudlin near sappy on occasion the last ten days thinking of my High School class Reunion. I didn't make it, thought it was gonna be too hot and I can't run up to Upstate South Carolina every weekend. My family loves me but need the distance.

     Not many of us still have a parent still living and I can think of only one classmate who has both parents still here on the earth. And since the last reunion three noble folks of our class have left us, just in last five years.

     In 15 to twenty years there will be just a few of us left.

      On occasion over the last decade when I take out an annual I know to twist the Rolling Stones a little Time is No Longer on My side. The Fall of my Freshman year, Claude Fort spoke at the Homecoming Assembly--Gaffney had great Homecoming Assemblies, knocked off the entire morning every fall right up until first lunch period. Claude Fort was of the class of 1907, born in 1890 five years before my Grandfather Fox.

    And here we Freshmen are on the edge of the third decade of the 21st Century.

     Our Class was historic as we were the last to be freshman at Gaffney High and the first in Gaffney to have three years in High School of full integration. There is an ominous photo in the 68 annual of a hundred or so white kids gathered around four black girls at lunchtime. It was innocent enough it looks as it appears the girls were singing or doing chants from Granard, their school of just a year before, but when you put those years of Strom Thurmond's Freedom of Choice and read Joe Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America we were an experiment in the making for sure.

   It wasn't all about race. Academic goals were serious at Gaffney High. Consider this sentence from the 68 annual I'm convinced came from Margaret Callison one of the co-editors:  "The teacher that involves a student with Thoreau, that excites a student with the thought of Flemming or Darwin is a teacher that has taken a student beyond a mere academic credit and given him an awareness of ideas that are infinitely more valuable"

   If you got a better sentence from your HS Annual I'd like to see it.

   As an aside I have to say about Darwin--well save that for later, from the Movie Ironweed. I was just surprised we good Baptists and the other less numerous denominations at Gaffney High had Darwins name in the annual.

   We had our stars, though quite frankly I thought the class of 68 and 72 were more gifted on the whole. No diss on us. Charles Foster was in the Olympics in 76, Chip Sheffield got a solid look from the Cowboys and Tampa Bay as a receiver, Ronnie Smiley got a look from Kansas City Royals best I remember and if not for a knee injury Danny Parker coulda been a pitcher for the Clemson Tigers. I agree with Robb Sartor on that one.

  And Barry Denton who is a perennial or a quarterly for the Reunions has the great story of when a crow tried to assault him in Left Field on a leisurely inning in the spring of 71, playing Woodruff or some pretender. Denton swatted and killed the bird with his glove. I wanted to hear that story one more time.

     At Furman in the hardest proffs class,
Jan Palmer made the first Freshman A intro Psyche Class in the history of the school; Anne Fuller became an outstanding church organist and played some of the best cathedrals in greater NYC and her sons were in acclaimed Boys Choirs there. Lillian Ashley got a master in Library science from Vanderbilt and Rajesh Mehra and Frankie Barnhill and Walter Frye have solid practices in the medical field.

      Bill Moyers wrote me a note in 88 that Said People like you make a difference and in my mind I collaborated on what shoulda been an Oscar winning screenplay if I just coulda got Brad Pitt to pick up the phone. After all he was raised Baptist just like me......Joke on me.

     At the 1991 twenty year Reunion, I found myself sitting beside Arthur Frady. I hadn't thought about Frady since tenth grade when Coach Whiteside drove a golf ball into the visitors stand on a morning that I swear was below freezing.

     Frady said Stephen, you were the smartest in our class weren't you. I said the vote came out that way though Walter Frye and Mark Poole always thought they were smarter than me. They coulda been and for sure Teresa Cline and Jan and Lillian and Diane Sarratt brought more to the table than I did; and Mike Francis SAT score was higher than mine. I rose steadily in the class as Francis left after the ninth grade, Lillian after the tenth and Jan went to LaGrange Georgia before our Senior year. And the Clary girls were ready to get on with life and went to Winthrop early.

   I got sidetracked. Frady Said, Stephen how much did you make last year. I said I have enough after taxes to make a down payment on a good bicycle since I'm wearing out the ten speed I got in Rome Georgia ten years ago. Frady said I made a hundred thousand dollars last year in my heatin and air Business. I said I thought you were with Sanders Brothers. Frady said I left them several years ago and got my own business and doing fine.

   I told him I was proud of him and I am. He was back for the 45th and I woulda love to have seen him. In a good picture with Charles Edwards who went on to Furman with me and Donnie Clary and Mac Middleton.

   Luc Sante, a consultant to Gangs of New York, said we are each of us our own archaeological sites. And lookin at the pic of my classmates the registry hardened.

   From a Review of a novel in the New Yorker a few years ago:  The hero imagines his body from above jeering at him: "For all your higher plane and beloved want the old comforts and narratives....the great words repeated in the dark and over the heads of newborns and the bodies of the dead."

    That's about where I am.

    God Bless the Class of 1971 Gaffney High School.



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