Members of the great Class of 1961 came from far and near to at-tend their reunion the evening of Saturday, July 16, 2011. Some thirty-nine members of the class with their spouses and guests gathered in the fellowship hall of the Mountain City First Christian Church to mark their 50th reunion. The well-planned event was one of the best-attended reunions for the class in several years. They came from as far away as Atlanta and Thomasville, Georgia. There was a good turnout from local class members as well. A number of those present were heard to say it was the best reunion they had ever attended.
The hall was beautifully decorated in the maroon and white colors of JCHS. The food was varied and delicious. There was an atmos-phere of delight in the spacious hall as hugs and handshakes pre-vailed prior to the delightful meal of pork, ham and chicken ten-ders along with a variety of vegetables, pasta and desserts. For those who attended last years reunion, there was a years worth of catching up on happenings of class members. For many others who had attended few or no class reunions, there were years of catching up to do. Many pictures were taken during the reunion. My wife, Mary, and I attended, as she was a member of the class. We really enjoyed the reunion and even though I was from the Class of 56, it turned out that I remembered many of them and took the opportu-nity to talk with some of them during the course of the evening. After the delicious meal, there was more visiting and going over old times by class members.
For me, one of the highlights of the year 1961 was when I entered the United States Army. The Cuban Crises early in that year was a time of great tension. My Unit at Fort Eustis, Virginia was read-ied to go on very short notice, but fortunately it was never de-ployed to Cuba. By the time I was inducted in September of 1961, many of the class of 61 had entered college, the work force or a branch of the military. Whatever their career choices were, Im sure they have had an interesting life with many years of service and success.
As I was summing up a few thoughts about the Class of 1961, I began to wonder about some of the events that took place in that particular year. It is interesting to note that on January 20th of 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States. On May 5, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. became the first American in Space with a 15-minute suborbital flight. The first American to orbit earth was John Glenn who on February 20, 1962 circled the earth three times before landing in the Atlantic Ocean. The year 1961 was also when the U. S. became more involved in South Vietnams campaign against communist-led rebels by send-ing two helicopter units and advisors to that land. Our current president Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961.
In 1961, the average cost of a new home was $12,500. The average income was $5,315. Gasoline was 27 cents per gallon. A new car cost a little over 5,000. Oh well, 1961 was a very good year. It saw the graduation of a great class at JCHS. But also can you believe those prices in that year?
In my column last week I should have written: John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Ga-garin was the first man to orbit the earth. I regret the error.