BOWEN COLUMN: LSHS Class of 1974 Reunion: The Spirit of ’74

Published 8:30 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

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It was a reunion for the ages — for fifty eventful years, to be exact.

Our LSHS Class of 1974 gathered on the weekend of April 20, 2024 to reunite and remember, and it was as special of a homecoming as you could imagine. Classmates and a good many of their spouses came to be a part of the gala – seventy-four ’74 graduates in all, and a hundred-and-twenty-five total loved-ones in all, gathered as one, with the spouses – and even one sister – being treated with the same respect and love as those who walked across the stage fifty years ago.

All of this – all of the attitudes toward one another and camaraderie with each other – added together, exemplified the Spirit of ’74. It is the spirit of togetherness, the spirit of love, the spirit of friendship, and the spirit of unity. The Class of ’74 gently tears down all barriers: economic, social, religious, racial, or any other. That spirit reigns supreme. A spirit of Granger Blue runs through our veins and always will.

The weekend was filled with numerous events and gatherings – games and golf on Friday followed by a meet-and-greet that evening at the Wild Leap, a tour of our alma mater’s remodeled school and multi-million dollar sports’ facilities – a tour guided skillfully by athletic director Mike Pauley on Saturday morning – and a picnic and fellowship at the Oakfuskee Conservation Center. To record the hundreds of reminisces and conversations over that weekend would contain enough stories and tales of laugher to fill a hundred books.

The big event, of course, was the banquet on Saturday night at Oakfuskee. The committee of Gary Whitfield, president, Patti Keeble Manion, Anya Bledsoe Looney, and Sherry Parker Callaway – and others – put together a gala that I think Hollywood itself would envy.

The Oakfuskee venue provided the perfect location for the homecoming that will long be remembered and rehearsed in the hearts and minds of every one of our Granger blue-bloods. An eighty-year-old slash pine tree at Oakfuskee sits by the lake, its wings spread wide, standing proud as a symbol for the strength, longevity, and character of the Class of ’74. By the time the sun began to set on this age-less group on Saturday night, I could not help but think that the glow on the water at the tree’s feet somehow mirrored the glow you could almost see within every loyal Granger’s heart that night.

And the greatest beauty was not from the decorations, or the music, or even the speakers who bravely took the microphone to facilitate the night and share words of encouragement and love from start to finish. The greatest beauty was something that lay far beneath the surface. It was the Spirit of ’74.

That spirit prevailed in the crowd for three eventful days, climaxed by what was like a Saturday night revival. When the music finally faded, and darkness fell on the regal old pine perched elegantly by the water; when all of these loved ones of ‘74 who started their lives together more than half a century ago — when they began, reluctantly, to disperse back to their homes (though they never could disperse, really) something still remained that can never fade, something that every member of the LaGrange’s class of ’74 long would carry with them deep within.

It is the Spirit of ’74.

(Steven, a LaGrange Daily News columnist for much of the last quarter of a century, is a proud member of the LSHS Class of 1974).