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MCHS class marks 50th reunion with scrapbook

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Martha "Marty" Channell Francis, Morgan County High School Class of 1953 graduate, said it was a big task for her and fellow classmates to assemble 50 years worth of memories into one binder.
"But we did it, and I think we did a pretty good job," she said with a broad smile.
Classmates assembled the collection of memorabilia entitled "Cherish the Memories" in honor of their 50-year reunion.
Approximately 37 of the class's 67 graduates were expected to attend the July 18 event held at David's Catfish Restaurant. A book, based largely on the personal class scrapbook of Geraldine White Sparkman, was made for each attending member.
"Even if they didn't directly contribute pieces of memorabilia to the scrapbook, all of the class members contributed to the memories it holds," former class president Bob Francis said. "Each book has 190 pages-that's 9,000 sheets of paper and 4,500 sheet protectors all total. That was an enormous undertaking for these ladies."
Francis fully credited classmates Ethel "Tiny" Lemmond, Bettye English, Jo Ann Stephenson, Joyce Legg, Betty Parker, Ann Hensley and Martha Francis with assembling the collection.
"I may not of helped much, but I did manage to sneak in and listen to them gossip a few times," Francis said to a roar of agreeing laughter from the ladies. "We all spent so much time together working on this project, Fred (Bettye English's husband) couldn't throw the dishwater out the backdoor without getting one of us wet."
"Cherish the Memories" isn't the first large undertaking for the close-knit class. During their senior year, the class decided to be the first from MCHS to take a class trip to Washington, D.C.
The seniors sold magazines and hand cream, held bake sales and spaghetti dinners, worked for local merchants, and collected scrap iron to fund the trip.
"Nobody thought we'd work that hard," Stephenson said. "We had to raise enough money to cover the expenses of every student who wanted to go."
Including railroad transportation on The Southerner, hotels, meals and sightseeing, the cost per traveler was $57.80. The total cost of funds raised by the class was nearly $3,000.
"But the community was very supportive," Martha Francis replied. "We represented every church in the area and our parents were all part of the PTA. The PTA would even move their meetings to accommodate our bake sales and dinners."
According to the class scrapbook, MCHS Principal David L. Darden, and senior sponsors Lizzie Reed Penn and Beulah Hester, accompanied 44 seniors on the trip.
Hester, 91, made plans to attend the class reunion.
"Mr. Darden said it couldn't be done," Lemmond said. "But we did it and he even got to go with us."
"That's just symbolic of this particular class," Bob Francis said. "A long-time teacher once commented that this was an unusual class because we worked together to overcome obstacles. We are blessed to have had one another and a local nucleus of folks has maintained the integrity of our group. It's something time will not penetrate."
Classmate Frank Stewart said the lasting friendships are indeed a blessing, but he found something more within the class of 1953.
"That's her sitting behind me in our first grade picture," Stewart said pointing at his wife Virginia. "She already had me picked out way back then."
The Stewarts are one of four marriages to emerge from the class.
Classmates fondly recalled how behavior problems and dress code violations were unheard of during their school days, neighbors were allowed to hand down punishments, and sneaking a smoke was about as bad as a bad girl or boy got.
An assembly was held each week that began with an invocation and ended with the singing of patriotic songs.
No dancing was allowed at the prom, but no one seemed to care.
"We truly lived in the best of times," Lemmond said.
Her classmates whole-heartedly agreed.