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Class of 1956 Holds Reunion; Happenings During That Year

On Saturday, September 8, several members of The Johnson County High School Class of 1956 gathered in the fellowship room of the Mountain City First United Methodist Church for a 56th year reunion. There was no doubt a lot of reminiscing about the “good old days” at good old JCHS. The old JCHS building now houses the Board of Education and a number of other county offices.
The attendance was very good considering that it was only last year that a big five-year interval reunion was held with a two-day affair. There were 33 members present and a total of 52 in-cluding spouses and guests. They came from as far as Atlanta, Georgia; Maryville, Tennessee; and Delaware, Ohio. The carry-in food was absolutely delicious and a group of ladies who call themselves the Sugar Foot Shufflers provided dance entertainment for the occasion. We were blessed to have in attendance former JCHS teachers Mrs. Evelyn Cook and her husband Edward and Mrs. Frances Smith.
As I thought of the Class of 1956, I tried to remember some of the things about that great year. I remembered that Dwight D. Eisenhower was rounding out his first term as president. He was subsequently re-elected to serve another four-year term. Richard M. Nixon was vice-president during both of Eisenhower’s terms in office. Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver, a senator from Tennessee, made up the Democrat ticket for 1956.A new particle, the antineutron, was discov-ered at the University of California, Berkeley in 1956.
In 1956, the average cost of a new house was $11,700. The average yearly wage was $4,450. A new car could be bought for about $2,050. Gasoline was 22 cents per gallon on average. Rock and Roll was the music of choice for the young folks. Elvis Presley released his first album in 1956, and of course we remember about his ultimate success.
On July 23rd the announcement was made that a three-month program of atomic tests were con-ducted at the Eniwetok-Bikini test site in the Pacific. On October 8, Don Larson, pitching for the New York Yankees, pitched the first perfect game since 1922, and the only no-hitter in a World Series game.
To me, one of the most important things President Eisenhower did was on June 29, 1956 when he signed the Federal Aid Highway Act authorizing $33,500,000,000 to be spent over the next 13 years for road construction. That was the beginning of the Interstate Highway System. As we travel each day we can see and appreciate Eisenhower’s foresight. Remember the Studebaker Golden Hawk? Well, in 1956 you could purchase one for $2,245.
Times sure have changed since the day of our graduation. Each class member has gone on to pursue his or her own hopes and dreams. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the one tie that binds us togther: the fact that we are 1956 graduates of Johnson County High School. In my memory I can hear the first stanza of our Alma Mater as it was sung in the old auditorium, which is now the beautiful Heritage Hall.

In the shadow of the mountains
Under skies of blue
Stands our dear old Alma Mater
Glorious to view.

Then the Chorus rings out.

Sound the chorus
Speed it onward
Thee we’ll never fail
Hail to thee our Alma Mater
Hail to thee, all hail!

It was good to see my classmates again. For those who came to the reunion and for those who couldn’t attend, I wish for them all the very best.