In the fall of 1935, about 35 children gathered at Salemburg High School for their first experience as new enrollees for first grade. I was one of the 35. Our teacher was Mrs. Olivia Palmer. We came from a wide range of backgrounds and locations, about two miles south of Salemburg and about two miles west to about six or seven miles north as far as Kitty Fork. Many of us were from a farming way of life.
Through the years some left and others moved into the school district. During our fourth grade, in January 1939, the two main buildings burned. The gymnasium was saved and was converted into classrooms for first through sixth grades. Grades seven through 11 were housed across the highway in an old two story building call the “Dormitory.” We were out of school about two weeks while plans and preparations were completed. Workers were hired in the old “WPA” program and they began cleaning up where the burned buildings were. In January of 1941 we moved into a new building for grades one through 11. This building is still in used today as the home of the North Carolina TarHeel ChalleNGe.
Our class was in the sixth grade when we moved into the new building. Our teacher was Miss Helen Johnson, one of my all time favorites. Every Friday afternoon was poetry time. Every student had to select a poem to read to the class. Some poems were short and some longer, but each student had his or her time before the class. It helped us to learn to read or speak before our peers and it taught some of us to enjoy, love, appreciate and maybe write poetry.
Somewhere about this time it was planned for the North Carolina schools to add a 12th grade all across the state. Our class was in the group that was designated as the first 12 year class. The class just ahead of us graduated in 1945. There were not graduating classes in North Carolina public schools in 1946. Our class graduated in 1947, the first 12 year class.
There were about 35 of us in 1935, only 16 of us graduated. There were 10 girls and six boys. As of this writing there are four ladies and three men left. In alphabetical order they are: June Cannady Dillon, Nona Crumpler Dean, Betty Hairr Hairr, Hubert Hall, Winford Parker, Evelyn Naylor and Roger White.
The deceased of the graduates in order of their demise are: Doris Hayes, Inez Holland Whit, Furman Tyndall, M. D. Honeycutt, Lyle Warren, Mary Baugh Porter, Henrietta Underwood Adams, Yvonne Knowles Anglin and Ruby Holland Hudson.
Four of the living are in Sampson County: Betty Hairr, Hubert Hall, Winford Parker and Roger White.
Those who are still living that were a part of the class at some point but did not graduate with us for whatever reason are: Arease Crumpler Jackson, Gloria Dudley Hudson, Betsy Ann Howard, Craig Howard, Mossett McLamb, Joe Royal, Lois Smith, Marie Smith Williams, Adeen Tew Jordan, Linwood “Bozo” Tew and Robert West.
We met for the first time in 1967. Then at 10-year intervals and then five-year intervals. About 10 years age, we decided to meet every year. Salem Pizza of Salemburg has provided a wonderful place for us to meet, greet and eat. We met on Aug. 11 with six of the living graduates and five of the others with children or friends with a total of 24 present. We have been a close-knit group all these years and our annual meetings grow sweeter and sadder as some are not with us. This past meeting was of 65th year after graduation, and our 77th year we first met.