Good Hope Class of ’69 holds 50-year reunion

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Left to right are Billy Byrd, George Meadows, Doris Rhodes Merriman, Charles Wilbanks, Becky Reid Barnard, Jeanne Mize Milligan, Connie McSwain Allen, Rodger Shabel, Judy Barnett King, Margie Watkins Hill, Glenda Hathcock Hardiman, Deborah Davis Ergle, Ronald Gentry, Peggie Swann Nez, Judy Phillips Wood. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

GOOD HOPE, Ala. – The Good Hope High School Class of 1969, the first graduating class of Good Hope High School, celebrated its 50-year class reunion Thursday evening at Stone Bridge Farms.

The classmates enjoyed a nice dinner while reminiscing about their days as Good Hope Raiders. A typical Friday night 50 years ago would be a ballgame or a trip to cruise Highway 31 around the Mug N’ Cone. Good Hope didn’t have a football team in 1969, so basketball and baseball were the most popular sports.

Jeanne Mize Milligan told about pranks they pulled as kids. When asked which teachers they tormented, she said, “All of them! We all went outside one day. Ms. Hinkle came stomping out there and said ‘I’m going to expel every one of you!’ We just left class and went outside.”

Class president Ronald Gentry spoke about his class, saying, “It was small. There were a few of us that were together for the whole 12 years. Some came in from the smaller feeder schools.”

The men explained facing the draft after graduation, and Gentry explained, “I was already accepted in college and I went to college. When I was in college is when they started that lottery. I was lucky. I came in the 300s on the draft list. They only drafted up the first 50 to 100 numbers.”

Billy Byrd, added, “I was no. 1, but I got a college deferment. Two weeks after I graduated from St. Bernard I got a letter from the draft board that said if anybody from Cullman County was going to be drafted, it will be you! I got married my junior year in college so I got another letter that I wasn’t being drafted and had been reclassified. I was lucky!”

As the class visited and caught up with each other, they also remembered the classmates they have lost through the years: Vickie Chambers, Sandra Knight Graves, Gloria Harris Schuman, Beverly Speegle Heatherly, Mary Jane Heatherly, Dewey Huffstutler, Jane Reynolds Speegle, Thomas Speegle and Larry Teague.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com