October 26, 2014: A Visit With Jeffie
October 23-24, 2014: A Visit With My Sister in Elon, NC
Return to the Index for 2014


October 24-25, 2014
My 50th High School Reunion


 

As part of this trip to Florida, we are going to go to my 50th high school reunion in Charlotte, which took place on Friday and Saturday, October 24th and 25th. We worked in a visit to my sister in Elon yesterday and this morning, and now we have driven down to Charlotte to check in to our hotel and get ready for tonight's opening mixer.

 

Where Are We in Charlotte?

In this section, I just want to orient you to where we stayed and where the various Reunion activities were held.


The Reunion Weekend activities all took place in south Charlotte, centering on Myers Park High School. The school itself is located in a large, wooded campus setting just off Selwyn Road at Colony. Just north of the school is the Myers Park Country Club, and that was the location for the Saturday night dinner/dance.

On Friday night, there was an opening cocktail party/mixer that was held at a place I'd never been before- Rooster's Restaurant and Pub, which is part of the huge Southpark Mall complex, itself located a couple of miles south of the High School, and about four miles south of where I lived and grew up in town.

On Saturday morning, the organizers put together a nostalgic tour of our High School which, I might point out, has changed relatively little in 50 years. After that tour, one of our more well-to-do alumni hosted a luncheon at her son's house near the intersection of Providence Road and Queens Road, about two miles north of both the High School itself and the Country Club.

To be as centrally-located as possible, and be in a hotel that would let us bring Zack into our room with us, we chose a new Extended Stay America hotel about three miles west of Southpark Mall, at the Tyvola Road intersection with I-77, which runs north/south from Columbia, South Carolina, up past Davidson College and on into Virginia.

My high school was, when I attended, considered the city's best, and is still routinely on lists of the best high schools in the United States. This is not surprising, since it was located smack in the middle of the most affluent neighborhood in Charlotte. I did not live in that neighborhood; I was fortunate in that the high school drew from an area larger than those neighborhoods, and that area included the junior high that I attended.

 

Our Hotel

Our hotel was a nice one- the Extended Stay America hotel on Tyvola Road just off I-77 in south Charlotte.


I had not stayed at this particular hotel before, but some years ago we stayed in one in Orlando when Ron Drew, Jay Silbert, Fred and I went to Disney's Animal Kingdom there. So I knew that if it was a nice as that one, it would be fine. The other consideration is that we had to find a hotel that would allow small pets, and this one did- for a fee, of course.

We found the hotel with no problem, coming down from my sister's house in Elon, and we got settled in and ready to go to the first Reunion activity- the Friday night cocktail mixer.

 

Friday Night at Rooster's Bar

Rooster's turned out to be over right next to Southpark Mall, and area I knew fairly well, having watched it develop beginning in the 1970s.


We left the Extended Stay America for the evening mixer about five-thirty; there was quite a bit of traffic. We cut across south Charlotte on Tyvola Road, eventually crossing Park Road, the street we had lived one block off of when I was growing up, and the street my Mom lived on when she sold our house and moved into a condominium. (She left there in 1996 when I moved her to Dallas.)

At Park Road, Tyvola turns into Fairview Road, which runs right by Southpark Mall- Charlotte's first indoor mall. Just past the mall, we turned left on Sharon Road and the left again on Morrison to park at Rooster's.


Parking at Rooster's was a problem; aside from the Reunion folks, the bar and restaurant are also popular with the after work crowd from the offices and businesses in the area. But we finally found a place and headed in.

On the aerial view at left, I have also marked the location of the Bricktop Restaurant, where nine of us went for dinner after the cocktail party wound down.

The cocktail party/mixer was held in an atrium-like area that separated the restaurant from the bar. Right at the door, there was a desk with blank nametags laid out on it. I made out tags for myself and for Fred, and we headed into the thick of the crowd so I could find someone I remembered.


The first person I looked around for was Jenny Widmer, one of the people I knew best from high school. You may have seen her before in this photo album; I visited her a number of times on trips back to Charlotte, and both Fred and I stopped in to see her and her father some years back. He is gone now, and Jenny, like most of our class, has retired to pursue hobbies and activities. She is as pretty as she has always been, and I found her right away talking to her good friend Sandra Lymberis. We were joined by some other folks we knew (the class was very large, and I certainly did not remember even half the folks) and Fred took the picture at left. It has (L-R) David Hanner, Steve Howe, Sandra, Jenny and myself.

We had a good time at the reception, although I let Fred off the hook and didn't drag him around with me all the time. But he did meet some of my classmates and they him. As the reception wound down, a group of us decided to walk down the street to a restaurant that one of us recommended to have supper. At the restaurant, we took a couple of candid pictures, and you can click on the thumbnails below to have a look at them:


After a pleasant supper, we walked Jenny back to her car and made plans to meet the next morning at the high school for our tour.

 

A Saturday Morning Tour of Myers Park High School

Saturday morning, we left Zack in the hotel and drove over to Myers Park High School, meeting the other classmates that would do the tour right by the entrance circle near the sundial. Below is an aerial view of most of the campus. I have marked some of the buildings that we walked through, and you'll be able to tie them to the pictures. I have also marked the peripatetic route that the 125 or so of us followed on our tour led by one of the sports coaches.

 

Meeting at the Circle

We arrived at the school at 9AM for the tour, and we gathered with the other classmates by the school's driveway entry circle and right by the sundial that was given to the school by the Class of 1954. The inscription reads "Time is a noiseless fill". The circle and sundial are adjacent to a new Administration Building; it was constructed, I think we were told, in the late 1980s- 20 years after I graduated.


Classmates Gather at the Circle

As we were waiting for the tour to begin, we passed the time meeting up with our classmates who had not been at the previous night's mixer, and there were quite a few of them. One person I knew well in high school was Ron McManus, and I got Fred to take a picture of the two of us. (Ron was a popular name, I guess, in the year I was born; there were five of us in my class, and three of us on the tour this morning.)

Of course I met up with Jenny again; you'll see her on the tour. And I reintroduced myself to everyone I remembered. You can click on the thumbnails below to see some additional pictures we took before the tour began:


About 9:30, one of the current coaches gathered us together, introduced himself, and we headed off to our first stop- the new Administration Building.

 

In the Administration Building (Main Office)

From the circle, our walking tour entered the Admin Building from the east, and exited at the other end.


When I attended Myers Park, all the offices were in the same building to which the cafeteria is attached (see the aerial view). I suppose they either needed more space for offices or for classrooms, so the new building was constructed. For some reason, the lobby area seems to have the flags of the nations suspended from the ceiling; my guess is that they are for all the countries that the school has had exchange students from. All we did in this building was walk down the hall and out the other end (past the trophy cases, of course). If you would like to see some of the photos we took, click on the thumbnail images below:

In the first of the pictures above (leftmost thumbnail in the first row), Fred got a picture of me taking a picture of two fellows that I knew- Alec Steele and Ron Linker (who was also one of the organizers). If you would like to see that picture, just click here.

When we exited the Admin Building, I found that a number of other classmates I knew had shown up, so we got re-acquainted before walking through the Math Building.

 

New Arrivals and the Math Building

When our group came out of the Admin Building, we found that there were some new arrivals, and we spent some time saying hello.


One of the new arrivals was someone I did know at MPHS, and who I also knew at Davidson- Monroe Gilmour. You can see him in the picture at left between myself and Jenny.

We took some more pictures outside the Admin building, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:

Our group went through the dark hall of the Math building to exit at the far end. There, the group headed down a path through the woods (that I only dimly remembered) that takes you from the front parking area to the north end of the Physics/Language Arts building.

 

A Walk in the Black Forest

We left through the north end of the Math building (I remember that Miss Whitley's algebra class was in the last classroom on the right; on the steps outside the building, I stopped to take a picture of Matt Karras, a fellow I'd known a bit. (He, incidentally, became a bar and restaurant owner and impresario for small bands throughout North and South Carolina.) At the back of the building there are steps down to a pathway that leads across the north edge of the campus, from the front parking lot back to the buildings in the northwest corner of the campus.


I actually don't remember much about this pathway, and that's probably because I rarely drove a car to school. Those kids that did parked in the front lot by the new Admin building. If they were late, or if for some other reason they didn't want to go through the middle of the campus to get to their homerooms or classes, they could hightail it through the woods- kind of like a wormhole directly to the back of the campus. Anyway, I was struck by the difference this afternoon; very few of my classmates could run up and down this path these days; most of us were careful with our footing- don't want to fall and break a hip, you know!

We took a few pictures along the path, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to see some of them:


Fred made a short movie as we walked along the path, but it doesn't show much more than folks being careful walking down and up the pathway, so I won't include it here. The pathway comes out in the area between the north end of the building where I had AP English and the buildings where the Physics, Chemistry and Biology labs were. Anyway, before going in to the LA Building, I took four pictures of this corner of the campus and stitched them together into the panorama below:

 

In the LA Building

From the pathway, our group climbed the north steps of the LA Building; these are the steps from the northwest corner of the campus. They brought us inside the LA Building where our tour visited one of the classrooms.


This turned out to be an English classroom; the sign behind the tropies reads "Myers Park/Debating Mustangs", and so I presume that all the trophies are from debate teams over the years, or other contests having to do with language. We took a few pictures in the classroom and in the hall outside, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to see some of them:


From the English classroom, we continued through the LA building to stick our heads in the library.


The Myers Park High School Media Center

Actually, they don't call it the "Library" anymore; now it's the "media center". I guess that's because so many of the books have been replaced with Internet access. Certainly, when I was at high school, the only "media" equipment we had were filmstrip, movie and overhead projectors- and the library was actually filled with books. Now, one whole side of the library is devoted, apparently, to computers and Internet access.


We took a bunch more pictures here in the Media Center; click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:


From the Library, our group (now fairly large) headed out into the central campus "yard", heading toward what used to be the admin building.

 

On the Quadrangle

When we came out of the LA Building, we were looking across the quadrangle towards the old admin building, which is now a student center, with some classrooms, student club and activity spaces, the cafeteria (now called "The Cafe") and other spaces- including the Student Council meeting space and a lounge. We began to walk across the quadrangle towards the patio of the student center, and Fred got a picture of some of us talking as we walked along.

Myers Park was built in a time when there was a lot of land available, and it is very spread out; none of the buildings are more than a single story, save for the new office building. There are covered breezeways that connect most of the buildings, and this huge open space around which all the original buildings are clustered. Out in the middle of the quad, I stopped to see if I could take a whole series of photos to stitch together into a 360°-panorama. I was successful, and you can use the scrollable window below to see the result:

Both Fred and I took short movies here in the quad, and you can watch them with the players below:

Loading the player...
Loading the player...

Over by the patio, someone got the idea to use one of the picnic tables as a set of bleachers so we could take some group photos. It was like herding cats to get everyone positioned (except the people who were taking pictures).


Fred took most of the pictures here, but I also did some closer shots of some of my classmates. If you want to see some of these pictures, just click on the thumbnail images below:


When the picture-taking session broke up, our group headed into the student center.

 

In the Student Center


Jenny and I in the Student Center

I remembered parts of the building that is now the Student Center quite well. In nice weather, of course, we'd sit or stand out on the patio, and just inside from there was the Student Council room, which was actually used for all kinds of meetings. I did not, however, remember the artwork on the walls.

I have to admit that I also remembered the cafeteria- perhaps too well. Our tour guide brought the group into this room- one of the few that all of us would have used at one time or another. I did find, however, that things have changed. I believe that lunches were something on the order of 75 cents, depending on how much food you bought, but I don't remember breakfasts, or reduced price lunches or credit cards.

Leaving the cafeteria (pardon me, the "Cafe") we walked down the hall to the east where the trophy cases that we all remembered are still located, although I assume that by now most of the trophies have been switched out with new ones won in the last fifty years. (Fifty years- it is hard to believe. Actually, it is pretty amazing that a school built sixty years ago is still as modern and functional as it is.)

We left the Student Center by the east doors, and then turned south to go see the old and new gymnasiums.

 

Our Tour Concludes in the Gymnasium

Our tour guide was a coach, so I guess it is fitting that the tour ended up in the gymnasium.


In the Old Gymnasium

We filed into the building that was known to most of us from watching basketball, attending pep rallies, and from various assemblies (including National Honor Society inductions) that were held there. After being admonished to get off the basketball floor with our street shoes, Fred and I took a few pictures around the inside. Click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:

Apparently, however, that gym wasn't good enough over the years, and so the school built, in a new building attached to the old gym on the west, an entirely new gym. To me, the new one, albeit larger, seemed no better inside than the old, but the coach went on and on about it. We milled about for a while, looking at some vintage school newspapers from 1964, and I took a final picture of some of my classmates and their spouses before the tour came to an end.

Fred and I walked Jenny back to the circle and to the parking lot, where we got in our cars and headed off to the next Reunion activity- a luncheon at the home of one of our classmate's children.

 

The Saturday Luncheon

The luncheon was held at the home of one of our classmate Ann Teat's children; it was located near the intersection of Providence Road and Queens Road. The house was quite nice, but the lunch was served on the side porch and we sat at tables sprinkled around the yard. It was at the lunch that I got re-aquainted with two other classmates that I had known fairly well. One was Ben Benoit, who, I thought, looked better for his age than just about any other of the classmates I met. He has spent a career teaching- mostly overseas- and has now returned to North Carolina. The other classmate was Cordy Fraser, who was attending with his very charming wife. I even discovered that one of my classmates lives just a few miles from me in Dallas.


At the Luncheon

The lunch was just an opportunity for us to wander around the renew old aquaintances, and Fred acted as photographer while I did that. If you want to see some of his candids, just click on the thumbnail images below:


When the lunch was over, about 2:30, we had some time before the evening dinner/dance, so I drove Fred around some of the neighborhoods where I had grown up.

 

A Nostalgic Visit to 3026 Somerset Drive

When we left the luncheon, we had a fair amount of time before we needed to be back at the hotel so I could get ready for the dinner/dance. So I took Fred on a circuitous drive through some of the neighborhoods where I grew up.


I drove Fred around Freedom Park, and we ended up driving down Somerset Drive- the street on which I grew up. We parked across the street in front of 3026 Somerset Drive- the house where I lived from 1951 through 1968, and where my Mom lived until 1977.

I had driven Fred by the house once some years ago, but since we had the time, I thought we would do it again and he could get a picture of me standing in front of it.


The last time we had been here, the house next door, lived in my Mrs. Mo Britt, Mom's good friend, was still standing. Today, however, we found that what Ted had emailed me about some time ago was quite true- the house had been torn down and a new, much larger house, was being built on the property. I got a picture of that new house, and you can see it here.

I had also been here without Fred a year or two before that visit with him, and at that time I rang the bell to see if I might meet the new owner and perhaps have a look inside. I did meet the young woman who lived there but she, perhaps understandably, was reluctant to allow even a well-dressed, mild-mannered middle-aged man to come inside. Today, there was an older woman out on the porch, and when she noticed us taking pictures she called out a greeting. I explained from a distance that I had grown up in the house and, when I did, she cordially invited me to come have a look at what her daughter and her had done with the house. So that is how I came to get a tour of the old house. The bones were the same, but the inside of the old house had been much changed, and there was a large new addition in back.

I want to put the pictures Mrs. Coates was quite willing to let me take on this page. You may not have much interest in them, but I want to record them nevertheless. To see any of the full-size pictures, just click on the little thumbnail.


We came in the front door from the porch into the living room, which was still in the same place and the same size. Of course, all the furniture was different, and this view looks out the side window towards the Britt home. The new thing was that in the far left corner in this picture a new doorway had been created into the kitchen (which had been remodled and enlarged, Mrs. Coates told me, when the old oil furnace had been taken out and whole-house A/C installed.


Behind me in the previous picture was the hallway that led back to the two small bedrooms- my parents' and the one that my sister and I began sharing but which eventually became hers alone. The door to my parents' old bedroom was closed, but I could stick my head into our room, which was, again, a kid's room.


Between the two bedrooms was the one small bath that the house had originally. They have a new one now, back in the new addition, and they were right in the middle of redoing this bathroom to take out the tub and put in a new tiled shower. In fact, the whole room had been nicely tiled.


Next, we walked through the dining room, which was still the same size and still with a dining room table, and back towards the new addition at the rear of the house. Behind the dining room was the room that was our family room, and which became my bedroom at night for a few years when my sister and I got old enough to need separate rooms. It is a family room again, and the old fireplace has been redone. This picture was taken from the archway between the two rooms.


As we went through the new doorway at the back of the family room, we came to the new addition. The first part of it was a new hallway that led to a new back door. There was still one from the kitchen, but this one allowed whoever was occupying the new addition to get out of the house more quickly, or perhaps not disturb people in the family room or dining room.


Standing in the same place, at the entry to the new addition, I turned to take a picture looking back towards the front of the house. You are looking through the den and dining room towards the living room. They also built a new passthrough between the kitchen and the dining room; the old oil furnace used to be in a room where that passthrough is now.


Most of the new addition was for this new master bedroom, which, I suppose, is where Mrs. Coates' daughter is. (She, incidentally, was off on a business trip.) As with most new bedroom additions, they had also added a beautiful new, modern master bath.


Outside the new master bedroom they have built a large shaded deck, which must be a great place to relax when the weather is nice. I also walked out into the backyard, which was of course somewhat smaller than it used to be, to get a view of the house from the rear. You can see that view here.

I was very pleased to have a tour of the house and a look around the property.

Loading the player...

Mrs. Coates wanted me to see the new patio as we headed back through the house, so I thought that this time I would make a movie. I began the movie here in the backyard, and continued it as we re-entered the house through the original back door. This movie will give you some different perspectives on the house, and you can use the player at left to watch it.

I was very pleased to get these pictures and this movie of my old house, so the stop today was well worth it. We continued on back to the hotel, passing right by the condo comples where my Mom lived from 1977 to 1996, when she moved to Dallas. Fred and I drove into the complex so I could get what will undoubtedly be my last picture of my Mom's condo on Cranford Road. You can see that picture here.

 

The Reunion Dinner/Dance

I picked Jenny up at her house about six-thirty, and we headed over to the Myers Park Country Club- the site for the Reunion Dinner Dance.


I took a few pictures of note that need a bit of description. For example, here is Holmes Eleazer giving the welcome remarks to the attendees. One of the friends that both Jenny and I had was Steve Howe, and he sat with us at dinner, and danced occasionally with Jenny. Here are Jenny and Steve at our table.

And I was pleased to reconnect with Monroe Gilmour, who went to Davidson with me, and Charles Couric, who moved to California after High School. He eventually became the US licensee for Brita water filters, built a successful company and sold it. My guess is that he is now our wealthiest alumnus (and, I am pleased to say, a 7-figure contributor to liberal causes). I took a nice picture of Monroe (L), and Mr. and Mrs. Couric, and you can see that picture here.

I took some additional candid pictures at the dinner dance- of Jenny, Steve, myself and others. I apologize for the bad lighting in some of them, but you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look:

Jenny and I had a good time at the dinner and dance, and it was a nice way to bring the Reunion activities to a close. I took Jenny home and returned to describe the evening to Fred. The next morning, we headed down to Atlanta for a visit with my niece Jeffie.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.



October 26, 2014: A Visit With Jeffie
October 23-24, 2014: A Visit With My Sister in Elon, NC
Return to the Index for 2014