Fives are wild at Union City High School class reunion
Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 8:01 pm
Strong indeed are the ties that bind when a high school reunion is on the line.
They came from near and far to gather in Union City for a reunion with their classmates of yesteryear. Martin Richardson of Fretonia, Texas, drove 870 miles. Harold Davis of Plymouth, Mich., drove 640 miles.
At the Hampton Centré, the Union City High School Class of 1955 — minus 17 who have died — held its reunion recently to commemorate the 55th anniversary of its May 1955 graduation from high school.
You could say it was a Double-Nickel night.
“We are the Class of 1955, we had 55 in our graduating class and this is our 55th anniversary,” said Richardson, who addressed classmates at the dinner.
He read aloud the names of 17 classmates who have died.
Richardson and Davis weren’t the only classmates who came from out-of-town to attend the reunion. There were others.
Also, several graduates still live in the Union City area — Charlie Nolan, Russell Caldwell, Shirley Easley Reese, Bob Blackley and Kenneth Fuzzell, to name a few.
Worth the trip
Both Richardson and Davis said the long road trip was worth it, and they’ll do it again. The Class of 1955 gathers in reunion once each five years.
“I love these people,” Richardson said. “Union City High School was a magnificent experience for me. Other than my seminary experience, I would say those were the greatest four years of my life.”
In 1997, after a career in business management, Richardson enrolled in a seminary in St. Louis and eventually became a Lutheran minister. He is pastor of a small Lutheran church near Smithville, Texas.
“We went to the football game — Union City and Obion Central,” he said. “Our senior year, our team played in that stadium. It brought back memories.”
Davis said he was 17 when he graduated UCHS in May 1955. After a career with Ford Motor Co. and Daisy Air Rifle Company, he retired.
Of his classmates, he said it was great to see them again. “It’s great to be here and see how we’ve changed,” he said.
Here are a few brief profiles of some members of the Class of 1955.
• Howard Carmen of Memphis.
He began his career in the construction industry while still in high school, working part-time as a draftsman for the late Will Austin Nailling of the former Nailling Lumber Co. in Union City.
“I was in the 10th grade when a friend of mine, who was a draftsman drawing houses, asked me to talk to Will Austin to see if he would hire me,” Carmen said. “I did, and he did. I worked for him three years, off and on. It set the pace for my life. Then I went to work for Lowell Lynn, a homebuilder here in Union City. He was a master carpenter.”
Carmen later enrolled at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), where he earned a master’s degree. He found a job in Memphis, working 42 hours a week with a salary of $1.35 an hour.
“I moved to Memphis in 1957 and have been there ever since,” he said.
Carmen is a structural engineer for the University of Tennessee, has charge of major construction projects at UT-Memphis and the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“I’ve attended every reunion we’ve had,” he said. “Even though I’ve been gone from Union City 53 years, coming back is a homecoming.”
• Shirley Easley Reese.
The former Shirley Easley married classmate William Reese in December 1955. They’ve been married (you guessed it) 55 years. “In December, we’ll have another celebration,” she said.
When asked what she considers major changes in society she’s seen since graduating from high school, she said the draft and technology.
“We had the draft back then. We don’t have it now,” she said. “Should we have one? Not necessarily. As long as we can rely on volunteers like my brothers.”
She reported she is proud that her brothers — James Easley, Bill Easley, Ray Easley and George Easley — all served in the military, three in the Army, one in the Navy. The two oldest boys were seniors in high school when they dropped out to enlist.
“The other big change is technology,” she said. “Who would have thought there’d be cell phones and the worldwide web? It has moved so fast in coming, too.”
• Charlie Nolan.
He was 19 years old when he graduated from high school and straightaway went to work full time for the former Reynolds Packing Co. in Union City. He’d already worked there two years part-time.
“I enrolled at Memphis State but decided to go back to Reelfoot,” he said. “Well, I lost my deferment and I got drafted into the Army. I wound up in the 101st Airborne Division and made 19 jumps.”
When he was honorably discharged from the Army, he returned to Union City and the packing company.
“I worked for them 34 years until they closed,” Nolan said. “I was a livestock buyer. It was a good job.”
Now retired, Nolan has been associated with Habitat for Humanity, where he is a member of its board of directors.
Published in The Messenger 9.30.10