Members of Center Grove class of 1964 prepare for 50th reunion, reflecting on 50th anniversary of President Kennedy assassination
By Nicole Davis
Fifty years later, members of the Center Grove High School class of 1964 can still remember where they were and what the day was like when they heard about the assignation of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Barbara (Correll) Reed recalls it was a drizzly Friday afternoon. Phil Howard was in band class. Barbara (Deer) Howard was in the school library.
“The day Kennedy was shot was the only day mom and dad let me drive the car to school,” says Ken Winecoff. “I left between classes (to take mom to visit dad in the hospital) and heard (of the assignation) over the radio… In those days, you only had four TV stations. I remember watching Walter Cronkite taking his glasses off and crying. I can remember those things to this day.”
The class of ’64 was the last to graduate with less than 100 students. Of the 94 students that graduated, approximately 30 have passed away. Many of the classmates have remained close through the years, meeting monthly at Golden Corral in Greenwood. As the area has expanded both commercially and residentially, they say that students today have lost the tight bond that their class was fortunate to have formed.
“Today, it’s the events that you’re in that (bring that closeness),” Phil Howard says. “I went to McDonalds the morning after a Center Grove football win, and they were all celebrating together over breakfast. That’s how we were back then, but as a class.”
For their senior trip, the class of ’64 was the first and only in CGHS history to travel by airplane. The students flew to New York to attend the World’s Fair and then to Washington D.C. to visit Arlington Cemetery. While in D.C., the students visited the temporary eternal flame for President Kennedy. The cemetery is pictured in the 1964 Trojan yearbook, calling the visit to the burial place of J.F.K. “among the most memorable events of the trip.”
“I felt a loss, that’s odd for a 17-year-old, but I felt a loss of idealism,” says Bob Gates. “That, ‘ask not what your country can do you – ask what you can do for your country.’ That vibrancy, that idealism was lost. Those were some of the emotions I felt, aside from the historical aspect.”
Phil Howard was on the yearbook staff at the time, and says he remembers working on a way to dedicate a page to President Kennedy, agonizing with associate editor Rita Robinson, on how to best portray the feeling from that year. They decided on an image of a flag located on Morgantown Road, at half-mast after the shooting, with a quote from J.F.K – “… of those to whom much is given, much is required.”
“It transformed politics, because our country’s president was killed,” Reed says. “This is the United States, still the most powerful country in the world. That security was taken away.”
The class will soon begin planning for its 50th reunion. The Center Grove Education Foundation is also planning on recognizing the anniversary at its 2014 Gala for the Grove on Feb. 22. For more information, visit centergrovefoundation.org.