Reunion: Some memories never die

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 15, 2014

By Jim Luke

Picayune City Manager

This time of the year as high school graduations near I have begun to reminisce and look at my years at Picayune High School.

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Time in those days seemed to stand still.  Now that I am over 60 years old, sometimes it’s cool imagining that high school never really ended.  Yes, those were the good old days and I made enough magical memories to last a lifetime.

To this day, I still see Mr. Fred Henley in the hallways between classes wearing that dark suit, tie and white shirt.  Loitering in the hallways between classes would get you written up.  Mr. Henley would give you that stern stare that told you that you better be moving on to the next class.  Later in life, after high school, Mr. Fred became a great friend who is probably the gentlest man I know and a great supporter of mine.  I am proud to call him my friend.  I’ve always found it interesting that some teachers you had in high school that were very stern and demanding then, later, turned out to be great friends in adulthood.

Way back over forty years ago, there were stories of success and failure as well as tragedy.  Back then we had Aubrey, Jan, Felton, Rhonda, Tex, Dan and Harvey Smith.  They have all passed, but their bright memories will live on with me forever.  And oh how I miss my friend Harvey Smith.  Voted “most dependable” his senior year, he was always a dependable friend to everyone.  How we miss him and that always, always smiling face.  This reality makes me realize that we will not live on forever.

Who would have believed the adventures we would encounter and the different paths in life that we have taken.  Some of our classmates stayed in the Picayune area, but a great many moved to other places in the United States and across the world.  We all have very different stories to tell.

About 2 years ago I decided to attend my high school class reunion for the first time.  It would be a chance to renew old acquaintances, those long lost friends with who we grew up and faced many of life’s challenges together for the first time.

Some classmates pass through your life in high school and you escape their annoying presence, never thinking of them again.  Others, you wonder what happen to them.  The popular girl, the bully, the jock, the flirt, the goody-goody, the nerd and the Preacher’s daughter would probably be there.

More questions – will anyone be there that I know?  What if nobody remembers me?  I just hope that everyone is wearing name plates.  To say we all have changed is an understatement.

As I pulled out my Maroon Tide yearbook I thought there are so many little things that aren’t recorded in the pages of a high school yearbook.  Break-up-Make-up between high school sweethearts, the secrets shared between close friends.  For the last three years of high school we raced happily through Picayune Memorial High School hallways and classrooms.  Occasionally we caught a ghostly whisper of students that came before us.  As seniors, we had known soon, we too, would be an echo to other students that would follow us. But let no one forget, we were there.

Yes, the memories are still alive after all these years and will always be.


ad a great time at the reunion and spent a lot of time figuring out “Who Was Who”.  Thank God for nameplates.  We sat at tables with some of our friends and reminisced about the good old days.  We danced to the old time rock and roll music.  Food was great.  There was no awkward embraces, no judging the others life choices, or sizing up who turned out better than the others did.  It felt good.  Quietly asking each other, “who’s that over there?”.  Immediately after a hug we began walking down memory lane and asking, Remember When?”; good memories for the most part, but touched with smidgins of bittersweet flashes.  I think we all felt value in being around each other.  Some of these people were a big part of me growing up and help make me who I am today.


All in all it was a great night.  For the first time we were all equal.  Reconnecting with these classmates face to face did my soul good.  These days it seems like folks are reconnecting  through the social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.  I often wonder if the glossy images people put up on the social profiles truly reflect who they are.  I had the privilege of knowing these classmates then and it is an honor to be in a position to serve many of them and their families now, as Picayune’s City Manager.