NOTES from the "60th Birthday Bash"


Of course, as I was driving home last Sunday,  I was "composing" e-mails in my mind & thinking about what needed to be "sent" next.  Certainly did not anticipate the "next e-mails" would be about the loss of our classmate, Judy Mays Thomason, followed by notification of the loss of our schoolmate, Bob Ed Peters. It is difficult to express how the losses of these friends and all those we've lost over the years affect us so deeply.  I know how much it re-enforces for me the importance of getting to spend as much time with friends & family as possible and cherishing each and every moment.

One of the things I had thought about on the drive home was how special the experience of "sharing our stories" was and that we should give everyone who was there an opportunity to WRITE either what they had said OR what they had WISHED THEY HAD SAID to share with the rest of the CLASS.  I know that sometimes, it is easier to SAY something than it is to WRITE it.....but then again, sometimes it is easier for some people to WRITE something  than to SAY it since you can think about what you really want to say.  SO.....Please e-mail me ( a brief (or not so brief) note of whatever you would like to share with the CLASS (or just with the ones who were there, if you prefer) of either what you said last week and/or what being a part of the BIRTHDAY BASH meant to YOU. 
Also, the following note from Mike McKean should be included in the "report" that is sent to the Class....along with the additional Post-BLAST (and even the pre-BLAST notes from everyone) .....DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THE PRE- BLAST NOTES from CLASSMATES that were taped on the windows at Spring Creek?  If they are "still around" it would be much easier to use them than to have to "re-create" them!!  selma
Note from Mike McKean:   What we all referred to as the Birthday Bash...became our 60th Birthday BLAST.  There were 60 guests and I heard nothing but accolades, and how much fun folks were having.  I cannot thank everyone enough for the work, participation, gifts, and more gifts.  We produced a memorable evening for some classmates who had never attended a reunion and for some who came very close to not coming.  Classmates came from Houston, Austin, near San Antonio,....and many from Amarillo (they were looking for a spring Roadtrip). Joe & Dawn Dial came from Canadian, Texas.  It was good to see everyone.  These opportunities are limited.  A special thank you to all who attended, and shared their evening.

Our class president, Dennis Wilkinson, provided a creative and entertaining introduction for us (especially on short-notice).  People appeared very interested to hear everyone's story and life events.  We all came to the same conclusion that the years have been gentle and good to us.  We valued our schoolmates and appreciated their love and friendship.  Our class is special, not only for the times, or classmates but because our parents love and shared vision for us to succeed.  During our early years, our moms mothered not only us but our friends.  We loved our teachers and our school.

I do hope that we will see either a site for the photos or at least some sharing.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas.

This would not have happened without all of us.  Thanks again for your ideas, work, and implementation for a success fun-filled evening - LIVE from Grapevine, Texas - IT WAS SATURDAY NIGHT!
Down the Corridor of Time....
Note from Judy:   I got home around 11:30 last night.  Didn't have any trouble finding my way out and was amazed at what that Pamper Yourself Box held.  Whoever put it together covered everything except the candles.  It was so good to see everyone and I am truly glad I came.  It was worth the trip to see all your faces.    Judy Mahaffee Flowers
Note from Rex:   Well! I must say, Barbara & I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.   Many Thanks  Rex
Note from Sandy:   I really enjoyed the get together on May 3.  I regret being so late to the party that I missed so many of the stories.  Obviously, I'm Mapquest challenged!
You and the group do so much; it motivates me to join the alumni group.  Can you tell me how to go about signing up and how much the annual dues will be?  
I also thought it might be nice to develop a MySpace page for the group.  I have one myself; it's how I keep up with my family and all my grandkids.   On the Class of '66 Alumni page we could post all the photos and update with the news that you so diligently gather.   I'll put together a proposal and send it to you.   I would be glad to do that (and maintain it) for the group.       Thanks!     Sandy Murphy
Note from Carol:    We wanted to go to the bash on the weekend so badly.  It was really hard being pulled in every different direction.  But a family time was planned with Vincent's mother because we couldn't be in Mississippi for Mother's Day and it was planned for this past weekend.  I know you all had a wonderful time.  We really enjoyed the last one at Spring Creek.  It was so neat that you and Peggy and others from Amarillo could come.

I know you will put out pics and details of the evening when you get a chance and I will be so interested in them. 

Just wanted to let you know we appreciate you so much and all you do to keep us posted about the great class of '66.    love ya, Carol Oldham Occhipinti


Note from Linda: I hope you all have a great time in Dallas this week end.  Wish things were where I could go.  Tell everyone I said “Hello and happy 60th” I pray for safe travel for everyone.  Can’t wait to see the pictures.   Linda Whitaker Gray


Note from Joyce:    I enjoyed the reunion get-together so much…it was one of my favorites so far!  Getting to hear about everyone’s lives and livelihoods was really priceless.  Our class truly has a bond. Joyce Wallace Gilbreath


Note from Frances:  Kathie,   Please pass on to your great committee how much I appreciate all the planning and work that resulted in the super 60TH Birthday Party last Saturday evening.  What a blessing!

I know what it takes to stage and produce these kinds of events and my hat is off to all of you.  The sharing and general ‘visiting around the room’ was so genuine!    Thank you, thank you!     Frances Carter Jackson

PS.  Rex and I discovered that we are kindred gardening spirits and have already been sharing tips and tricks!


We knew so little of what our CLASSMATES were dealing with when we were in school.....we were all pretty much "self-absorbed" and "unaware". As we've aged & become more aware of the difficulties of LIFE, hopefully we have all become more aware, more compassionate & more understanding. Thank you, Caroll for sharing your story with your forever friends from school.....selma 

Note from Carrol Cleere:  This may be a little long and boring, but it is something that I have to get out.  You don't really know how much the Dallas reunion meant to me.  I don't have everyone's email addresses or I would have thanked them all personally.

You see, for years and years, I have fought a raging battle within myself.  My birth last name was Halford, but my father was killed when I was 5.  A year later, my mother remarried right after I started to school at Emerson.  I went there 2 years (even said I was Don Thompson's brother so I could get into the Cub Scouts--it didn't work)and then I moved over to Will Rogers in the third grade.  Oh, btw, I finally talked my folks into letting me in the Scouts, and Dennis's mom was the Den Mother! 

Anyway, comes the 4th grade, and wham--out of nowhere, I am adopted and my name changed to Cleere.  I was almost forbidden from mentioning my real name.  I couldn't attend their funerals or family gatherings.  My Halford kinfolks were still around and yet now I had a real difficult time seeing or communicating with them.  I rocked along almost rebelling daily because of the continual belittling and birth-family condemnation by my stepdad, making it through elementary school then over to Horace Mann. Things were still a big challenge, my sister had gotten married, and my mother had my brother and as far as the Cleere's were concerned, he was the only one around--but my mother and I endured.  But nothing that we had on the northside was good enough for him--he kept trying to "make us worth something", as he so often put it.  You have no idea how sick I got of hearing how sorry my biological roots were and about all the drunks and bums on my mother's side .  Anyway, he finally succeeded in moving us over to the Tascosa district the last 6 weeks of the 9th grade.  I went to hell in a handbbasket after that.  I dropped out of everything that I used to do and couldn't wait to graduate and get out of Amarillo.  So, I graduated a year early, in 1965, and left town going into Uncle Sam's Army until 1971.

Over the years the emotional and verbal abuse was always present.  Christmas's were a chore-- I endured for my mother, but even 2 days was too much to stand and always ended up with my leaving early.  I made my own life always staying away from Amarillo and the unpleasant memories of constantly being told I was no good trash, and the only way anyone would remember me was by a whiskey bottle. (You think maybe that's why I don't drink at all!!)

A couple of years ago, my mother passed away, and my stepdad told me before the funeral that I was officially an orphan, adoption or not.  And I was informed that I was welcome to come by the house in the future, as long as it was by 9PM and that I had a place to stay elsewhere, as there was no room for me, Jan and our daughter Lisa to stay there.

Over all the years, I really wanted to attend the Palo Duro reunions, but honestly, I was afraid--afraid that he was right and that no one could care less about me, that no one would remember me, or if they did, it would be nothing but maybe the rebellious obnoxious behavior I developed in school. 

All of y'all and Palo Duro were a part of me.  My sister, Glenda Melton, was there in '56.  She married Warren Hunkapiller of '56.  My half-brothers, Jimmy and Johnny Halford Turner were there.  My cousin Stanley Black played baseball there.  Of course, my departed cousin Janet Wood and the best neighbor that anyone could ever have--Jackie Wyatt.  All of my classmates were my heart and soul and in reality my link with life, as over the years, I really didn't know who I was. I was that confused.

Anyway, I decided that I was going to tough it out, push the fear aside, and go to Grapevine and it was the best thing that I ever did.  So many pleasant memories flooded me, so many that it was baffling to me.  When I stood up and blurted out that no one knew who I was, that just popped out of my subconscious.  Nearly every puppy-love flame that I ever had in school was there.  The guys I played football, basketball, baseball, track--they actually remembered me.  And bless her heart--Joyce, with no prompting, remembering me as a Halford from our church days.  Throughout the night I lay awake, remembering and finally realizing that it was not Amarillo that I couldn't wait to get away from!

I left Grapevine and took a trip over to Amarillo--no I didn't contact my stepdad, but I did walk the old neighborhoods around Ridgemere and Brooks.  I went by my elementary school neighborhoods, by Horace Mann, to the old baseball fields, if they hadn't been covered with buildings.  I walked around Palo Duro, then tried to emulate the dragging of Polk, turn-arounds and all.  I sat on the corners of the old drive-ins, remembering the hamburgers, the coke floats, so many memories that hadn't been in my thoughts for many years.  No, the places weren't the same,but I could picture them as they were and I just did a lot of remembering and thinking.  And I felt such an enormous weight lifted from me as a result, and it was all due to all of y'all from the reunion.

Yes, all of us didn't have a lot of money, but we did have each other and as I have finally realized, that is worth so much more than anything else.  Thanks to you, Mike and everyone for being so persistent with the Reunions, and by keeping in contact with me--I'll love all of y'all forever.  All of you are emblematic of the lives and continued wonderful memories that I wish I could have had.

I look forward eagerly for any more class gatherings and my home is always open to any of y'all.  Thanks again for saving a drowning soul!