Leachville Class of 1954 talks over old times

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Leachville Class of 1954 recently held their 60th reunion. Pictured are, from left: front -- June (Sikes) Cummins, Georgia (Layton) Selby, Betty (Swihart) Carter, Joy (Welch) Brooks, Jerry Langston, Donna (Newsom) Butler, Earl Hueter. Back -- Donald Galyean, Tom Puckett, Ronnie Kennett, Sammy Buck, Larry Brooks, Moba Lee (Byrd) Miller, Snowden Hawkins. (photo provided/Moba Lee Miller)

It was the summer of 1954 and excitement was in the air. After four years of bake sales and car washes, the Leachville graduating class was about to embark on their senior trip. Sunshine, blue water and sandy beaches -- Florida, here we come!

Mrs. Clemma Edwards and Mr. Johnnie Swihart were class sponsors, chaperones and Mr. Swihart also drove the bus.

The reality was 53 students on a 48 passenger bus, luggage stacked in the back and boards across the aisles to provide additional seating. One student even crawled under the seats to sleep. When he awoke, someone was resting his feet on his head.

Upon arrival, the motel confirmation was not honored. After Mr. Swihart threatened the motel with a lawsuit, suddenly other accommodations were provided. The whole group received a free dinner, a move to another motel right on the beach, and they were the only occupants.

The class made a pact they would have a reunion every five years. Such memories were just the beginning of the stories told at the recent reunion.

The first reunion was held at Reynolds Park, and the 60th reunion for the Class of 1954 was held at the Snowden Hawkins Family Farm office on Aug. 30, 2014.

Ronnie Kennett, serving as master of ceremonies, introduced the guests of the class members and allowed time for reminiscing. Don Galyean, Knoxville, Tenn., was recognized for traveling the farthest to attend. He received a Hillbilly executive briefcase, and the poem attached to the briefcase was read aloud.

The evening did have its serious moments. In memory of the 24 deceased classmates, a moment of silence was observed. A candle was lit and Moba Lee Byrd Miller read the names of the 24 individuals. A prayer was then offered by Earl Hueter.

June Sikes Cummins and her husband, Richard, spoke about their son and daughter-in-law and their mission work in Thailand. They nurse seriously ill newborn babies back to health so they can be placed for adoption. If not for the organization they work for, Connie's Home, these babies would be considered "throw away babies" and not receive any care. Connie's Home can be accessed on Facebook.

A list of classmates' updated addresses and telephone numbers were provided to attendees. Moba Lee Miller also distributed copies of the All School Reunion letter from Barbara Lloyd and the 100th birthday survey. Directions for completing the survey were provided. Moba Lee stated that Nan Snider would be printing and selling a book that would contain both school and town history.

No reunion would be complete without lots of food. Don Galyean asked the Lord's blessing on the meal. Local classmates provided finger foods for snacking both before and after the meal which was catered by Bigg Butts Restaurant. Dinner was served buffet style and included fried catfish, chicken fingers, French fries, hush puppies, cole slaw, relishes and banana pudding.

The class of 1954 is proud of the fact they have kept their pact to have a reunion every five years. In addition, they have also had reunions at the "all school reunions" and Bo Adams Day. Another accomplishment of which they are quite proud is the record they hold for the highest bid for a slice of watermelon during the Watermelon Festival. Their bid of $10,100 benefited St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis.

Classmates expressed their thanks to Snowden and Martha Hawkins, their children and grandchildren for making the reunion a success and for providing such a beautiful facility. A special thank you was in order for the video which scrolled throughout the evening.

After many hugs, the attendees left with visions of another reunion in five years.

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