The weather was perfect for the 27th annual Denlow School Reunion on Saturday. At eleven in the morning the school bell rang out and students, family and friends assembled for an interesting program. Fred Follis led the group in The Pledge of Allegiance. In his remarks, master of ceremonies, Robert Upshaw, noted that the first reunion was held in 1987, and there were 250 people in attendance. There were considerably fewer this time. The past year saw the passing of a number of students and spouses including Lorene Johnston, Vivian Shannon, Velma Hopper, Esther Wrinkles, Sue Upshaw, Bryan Gray, and Ray Mallernee.
The Memorial Day week-end was designated as the most appropriate time for the reunion for a number of reasons, not the least of which had to do with the many Veterans who had attended the school as children. During World War II, Lavern Miller landed on Omaha Beach in France and fought all the way across France and Germany and was in Salzburg, Austria when the war ended. Fred Follis joined the Marine Corps in 1961. Tom Cooley joined the Navy in 1956 and liked it. He stayed until 1977. Darrell Cooley was drafted in 1962 and was in Viet Nam in 1963 and 1964. Dailey Upshaw was in the air Force and said he mostly did paperwork. Dean Brixey was in the air Force from 1962 to 1966. He said he joined to see something of the world and what he saw was Arkansas. He was an electrician on the Titan II missiles. Robert Upshaw spent 21 years in the Air Force before returning to his roots. Pete Proctor spoke movingly about his trip this time last year to Washington D.C. with his son Bryan who had just finished 20 years of service. Pete was 23 years old when he was drafted and he served in Viet Nam and this was his first trip to see the memorial there. He said it was a life changing experience. He said that he was told that the Viet Nam Memorial went up before the World War II Memorial as a compensation for the way they were treated when they returned home. He also spoke about the Korean War Memorial with its life like statues of soldiers in the field. Pete suggests that every American, particularly every Veteran, would benefit by a visit to these important National Memorial sites.
Ruby Proctor won the first door prize of the day, which was a small handsaw and a flashlight. Rick Wilkey of Kentucky, was the youngest in attendance, and was selected to draw the door prize tickets. He drew his own number and that of a family member, so there were a couple of flashlights and hand saws sent home to Kentucky and Tennessee. It was all in good fun. Then there was a great pot-luck luncheon that begged dieters to step out of their restrictions for a day. Beautiful desserts and wonderful conversations followed until some were about ready for a nap. The group retired to the lovely outdoor pavilion then for music and more visiting. A guitar and a fiddle came out of their cases and the Eighth of January and a number of other wonderful old tunes ensued. Then came a banjo and a couple more guitars and things got lively. Toes were tapping and Sally Prock would have danced a jig with just a little encouragement.
Lavern Miller, with the help of Kenneth Anderson, conducted the auction, which, according to one of Ruby’s nephews who had traveled from Oregon for the occasion, should have been recorded for its pure comic value. Elizabeth Johnston kept the books and a nice nest egg was set aside to help pay for the next reunion. Those who signed the registry this year were: Linda Jean Pope, Dean Upshaw, Dailey Upshaw, Fae Upshaw Krider, Fred and Jean Follis, Mary and Ken Gerald, Barbara and Kenneth Anderson, Loretta Upshaw, Kaye Upshaw Johnston, Tom Cooley, Darrell Cooley, Lorie Cox, Johnnie Cox, Bonnie Brixey Mullens, Wilda Moses, Phillis and Pete Proctor, Robert Dean Brixey, Cathie Alsup Riley, Rick Wilkey, Jessie Mae Miller, Lavern Miller, Sally Prock, Jeff and Bev Schellenger, Shirley Brixey, Ed Williams, Sonja and Allison Williams, Larry McFall. Among those in attendance who did not sign the registry were Russell Upshaw, Carol Barnhart, James and Jana Brixey with their two young ones, Norris Woods and a couple of guitar playing guests, David and Julie Hicks, Richard Johnston, Peggy Hancock, Sharon Upshaw, Pete Mullens, Frank and Freda Proctor and a number of others. It is believed that a good time was had by all.