Several classes have reunions

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 04:50 PM

John Walter Earnhardt, Walter Bickett Class of 1949, invited his class plus anyone else who graduated from Walter Bickett High School to a “Meet with Classmates and Old Friends Over a Glass of Wine” get-together on May 8 at the Treehouse Vineyards owned by his sister, Dianne.

Many of us “old timers” needed a diversion like this. We have lost too many of our classmates in such a short time — in the last month or so: Don Goodwin (Class of ‘55), Clark Goodwin (Class of ‘53), Elsie Broom Lee (Class of ‘51), Lee Alexander (Class of ‘54) and Butch Tucker (Class of ‘64 ).

A little over thirty “old timers” met at the Treehouse Vineyards for some visiting and talking about old times. Those who showed up were: John Walter and Patsy Earnhardt who were the hosts of this event; Charles Norwood, Mack Pigg, Wayne “Wac Wac” and Barbara Wolfe, Lane Ormand, Kenneth and Ann Neese, Jean Goudelock Lee, Mary Lou Gamble, Bob and Joan Evans, Frank and Libby Helms, Max and Jane Correll, Doris Morgan, Ted Broome, Charlie and Nita Williamson, Virginia Bjorlin, Jane Austin, Arnold and Sam Mills, John and Eloise Milliken, Joy Shute, Hunter Hadley, and Jimmy Williams.

Most attendees caught up on classmate’s lives, health, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. The magnificent football year of 1949 was discussed — that was the perfect season as seen in the game scores.

I didn’t know (I was very young in 1949) that the Purple Pythons under Coach Gudger (assistant coach was Harry Jaynes) began their practice two weeks early that season. As it was described to me, the practice field was called the “snake pit” and was located behind what is now the Social Services buildings on Roosevelt Boulevard. The players could not be easily seen while practicing. (It was the mid-fifties before Roosevelt Boulevard was opened.) As luck would have it, Bob Evans ended up with a compound fracture of his leg, thus ending his football career.

The main football practice field was at Walter Bickett High School. Summer practice which took place the first part of the season in August was at Lake Junaluska.

The 1949 Monroe football team ended its regular season with a perfect record — 12 wins and one tie. In September, Monroe beat Stanley (here) 45 to 0; Monroe beat Wadesboro (there) 26 to 0; Monroe beat Albemarle (here) 6 to 0; Monroe beat Canton (here) 20 to 0; Monroe beat Concord (there) 19 to 0; in October, Monroe beat Belmont (here) 13 to 12; Monroe beat Spencer (there) 41 to 0; Monroe beat Thomasville (there) 20 to 13; in November Monroe beat Kannapolis (here) 28 to 0; Monroe beat Hamlet (here) 33 to 6; and Monroe beat Asheboro (here) 14 to 0. In the Lions Bowl which was played in Hickory, Monroe tied Lenoir 13 to 13. In the Paper Bowl which was played in Canton, Monroe beat Waynesville 14 to 0.

The Korean Conflict broke out in June of 1950 and Monroe’s National Guard was mobilized. Several players were already members of the Guard, and those who were eligible to join quickly enlisted (11 in all). There were only two returning letter-men. The 1950 team finished with five wins, five losses and two ties. Not bad for an “unexpected” rebuilding year.

The Walter Bickett (Monroe High School) sports teams and mascot was officially changed from the Purple Pythons to the Monroe Rebels on Friday, October 12, 1951 in a chapel program conducted by the Principal, Jim Williams. That night the Monroe Rebels defeated the Albemarle Bulldogs 7 to 6!

All in all, it was a great afternoon seeing and catching up with old friends!