More than half of the surviving members of the Brownwood High School class of 1953 gathered at the Brownwood Country Club, during possibly their final reunion.
With each of the 33 surviving members of the class of 1953 now in their 80s, and Class of 1953 Reunion Committee Chairperson Peggy Marshall previously announcing plans to step away, this year’s reunion drew alumni from as far as Massachusetts with the thought this could be the last time they see their classmates.
“I haven’t seen David Cardenas, from Colorado, and Richard Skinner, from Massachusetts, in quite a while. I get to see who’s bald-headed in the men and who’s fat in the women,” Marshall said. “I just wrote a letter and sent them to every one of them. We had 136 people in our class and 58 of them are deceased. The last time I checked, we had right at 33 (attendees) and four more came today.”
Although advancements in technology have made it easier to communicate through social media, Marshall said she drew most of the attendees by having constant contact through email. Throughout the morning, returning graduates conversed around old yearbooks and other class of 53 paraphernalia, striking up conversations ranging from what they’re doing after retirement to stories about former BHS football coach Abe Houston.
“Several of us were in the band. We had one majorette and three flag girls (attend),” Marshall said. “We got a good group and they’re very well taken care of. I have given this reunion every five years and this is the last one. I’m done … There are a lot of them who aren’t here that were here last time.”
Considering it may be his last time to reconnect with his classmates, Skinner said he flew from Boston to attend, but after 65 years felt it was more like meeting 33 new people.
“I hadn’t seen my sister in years. She lives in San Antonio so I thought I would and do the reunion at the same time,” Skinner said. “… It’s been 65 years. I drove through Brownwood for two hours and did not recognize a thing, not anything. Well, I recognized Austin Avenue, but when I drove down Austin Avenue I didn’t recognize a thing. Just the name of the street sign. Has it changed a lot in 65 year? Yeah, it’s a whole different town.”
Although living in Denver, Cardenas said he regularly attends the class of 53 reunion. With Cardenas coming to town every five years he said it was strange watching a town grow from an outsider perspective, but as soon as he starts talking to his old classmates it brings him right back home.
“I had to make this reunion,” Cardenas said. “It might be the last one. Who knows? No one knows. The drive is always good. [Reuniting] is very nostalgic – just seeing people. You have a kind of bond, relationship over the years. It’s always refreshing.”
The committee who organized the event includes: Peggy Marshall, Pierce Burns, Nadean George and Don Brubaker.