The Brownwood Country Club hosted the annual Brownwood High School senior class of 1954 luncheon on Wednesday, September 18. Sixty-five years ago, this class celebrated as they earned their high school diplomas. Many had their futures planned in pursuing college degrees. Others took risks going out into the world to seek their future. However, these students went in different directions with their goals in mind.
Since that time, these graduates have traveled through many personal and business crossroads. On this day, several of them came together to celebrate the longevity of their high school friendship. Classmate Gerald (Gerry) Benbow never hesitates to step up and take charge to get all the logistics together and make sure this reunion happens. Classmates gave him thanks for all the work and time he puts into this effort.
During the luncheon, the question was asked, “What is your most memorable high school experience?” and someone mentioned an experience with the late Bill Harlow. He shared that Bill had jumped out of his History class window and scared the teacher so much that she ran out of the classroom only to see Bill (who had shinnied down the tree just outside the window) laying down on the ground. No one knew what happened next. Hmmm.
Edward Balderrama was missing his dear friend and classmate since childhood, Judge Donald Clements who could not make the reunion luncheon. “Donald is a very special person in the Balderrama family.” Edward recalled that when he was a teenager, he traveled with his father to work in the cotton fields and did not return to school until the fall mid-semester. His Principal, Mr. A. E. Lamb knew how important school and good grades were to him and asked, “Edward, do you think you could pass all your semester final exams in two weeks?” Edward responded, “Yes Sir, I do.” Mr. Lamb told Edward to study hard and if he passed the exams, he would not miss a half-year of school. Donald, who was Edward’s friend and classmate offered to study and tutor him on what he had missed. Edward passed all his exams with flying colors and years later graduated on time with Donald and all their other classmates. Edward said, “I love this man!”
Many classmates credited their upbringing in Brownwood on having a strong influence in how they went through life. Classmate Charles Richardson recited their class motto, “One day at a time, but always forward.” He stated that he still remembers with gratitude all of their classmates. Sandra Spellman Camp was quick to chime in and say, “We are still close and we love each other.”
These classmates say they never thought about high school class reunions until late in life because they were so busy with careers and family. Now they reminisce and reflect on the many experiences they have shared together. After the luncheon, classmates in attendance stayed late hesitating to leave the wonderful conversations. As they left today, they were already talking about plans and looking forward to next year’s reunion luncheon.
Dr. Ernestine (Tina) Balderrama Kubicek of BHS class of 1965 is the youngest sister of classmate Edward Balderrama and has become the designated photographer for the 1954 class.