Classmates remember Classmates

Up until now we've confined our memories to recollections of our classmates who have passed away.  Now let's open the field a bit and talk about our memories of each other.  The only restriction that might make this a viable idea is, keep your stories in the realm of individual experiences rather than recollections of group events or activities.  This first story is the one that sparked the idea for this page.

Miriam Sheppard

Miriam remembers Charlie

I have a story to tell about Charlie.  I had a date with someone - I don't remember who the bum was.  He took me to a bar some where outside of East Palatka.  There I saw Charlie with his date and some friends.  This guy I was with disappeared for most of the night.  The bar was closing and the only one who offered to help me was Charlie. 

He offered to drive me home but I just wanted to know the whereabouts of my date so he offered to look for him and a couple of minutes later he came back to tell me that my date was passed out in his car.  I thanked Charlie and even though I did not have my drivers permit yet I proceeded to move the idiot over and drive his old Cadillac to my house where I told him to drop dead. 

That night Charlie was a "knight in shinning armor"  who came to my rescue and I will always be thankful to him for it.  It's funny, as I think back I recall that all the girls in high school avoided walking the shortest way to get to class because Charlie and his friends hung out at the entrance to that particular hall.  I always went through them and never feared any harm would come to me.  They were just being kids like everyone else. 

Charlie is very special to me and I am very happy he is coming to the reunion this year.

Charlie Armstrong

Bunny Rideout

Bunny remembers a date with Wally

I may be a little foggy on the exact timing, but I think it was during our senior year that the Little Women's Club held a Sadie Hawkins Dance on Leap Day. I had always thought Wally Brazzeal was so cute and so funny, and I was absolutely delighted when I got to him first and he agreed to go with me. Since the girls were supposed to do everything the boys would usually do, I got permission to drive my parents' old Packard. (It was a huge car and about 15 years old then. My folks and my brother drove it until it finally collapsed in the middle of one of Palatka's streets--but I digress). Diana Selsor and John Wolfenden were to double-date with us, and I picked them up first, then collected Wally and off we went.

We had a great time at the dance, although the bales of hay we sat on between dances were a bit rough on the legs (I had on denim shorts, as I recall). Eventually it was time to leave the dance, and someone had the bright idea to go to Angel's afterwards. Well, Angel's was closed, so someone had another bright idea to go over to East Palatka and see if some place there was open. It wasn't, and as we were driving back, I felt very uncomfortable because a piece of that pesky hay was caught in my shorts. I was valiantly trying to remove it when Diana first noticed a flashing red light behind us. I was so scared I could hardly pull over, pulling to the left instead of the right and having the cop gesture for me to move to the other side. He came up and wanted my license. I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong when he said, "Is this big car too much for you to handle, little lady?" I said, "No, sir," and at this point he noticed I was Rev. Rideout's daughter. He said, "Well, you seemed to be weaving around, and I thought you were having trouble." I said, "Oh, no, officer, I just had something in my pants and thought I'd better get it out!" You can probably imagine the look which he gave me as all kinds of things went though his mind. He gulped and said, "But it's OK now," and I jumped into the breach with, "It was just a piece of straw." He gulped again and said, "Well, you kids be careful."

Knowing that my mother worked with County Judge Warren and many of the deputies, I realized I'd better ' fess up the minute I got home. It turned out that my mother knew that particular deputy quite well, and he was in her office first thing the next morning to let her know that her daughter was having a problem with something in her pants the night before. Thank goodness I had prepared her, but I understand he held that over her head for many years.

Wally Brazzeal

SGT Bert Carson

A member of the class of '60 that you didn't meet at PSHS

This is a story about a member of the Class of '60 that you've probably not met.  If you do know him, you, like me, didn't meet him in school because in 1960 PSHS was segregated and James Cooper was a member of the "other Palatka class of '60."  Here's how I had the good fortune of meeting him.  In 1965 I received my draft notice - it began, "Greetings from your friends and neighbors..." and went on to instruct me to leave my home in Jacksonville, come to Palatka, get on a Greyhound Bus and ride back to the Armed Services Induction center in Jacksonville (less than a mile from my home).

In Palatka I boarded the bus with a dozen or so guys about my age; all of us pretending that we weren't afraid and this was something we did all of the time.  I took one of the last available seats, next to a black man who had gotten on just ahead of me in Palatka.  We introduced ourselves and then we marveled that we'd never met before.  James graduated in '60 and so did I.  He had spent a little time in college, so had I.  He had been marking time, waiting for this day, so had I.  He had never met a white man his age and I'd not met a black man my age.  We had a lot to talk about and we talked non-stop all the way to Jacksonville.  We stayed close through the entire process that lasted all day.  At the end of the day we found our selves sitting side by side on another bus, this time I got the window seat and this time we were heading for Fort Benning, Georgia.

I suppose because our last names ended in "C" or maybe because we never got over 5' away from each other, we ended up in the same Basic Training Company.  It was a very unusual company because our Company Commander, Captain Kennedy, had just returned from a tour in Vietnam, and had an entirely different perspective about Basic Training than his straight out of Officer Candidate School counterparts.  He did not allow the Drill Instructors to inflict undue harassment on us, explaining to them that he knew for a fact that it wouldn't serve us in Vietnam.  For that reason we had an exceptionally high level of morale which was expressed in many ways; for example we set a physical training record that I know stood for at least five years.  I remember that James Cooper was instrumental in maintaining that memorable level of camaraderie - one of many examples I remember was coming in one night from a ten mile forced march and noting that James was carrying three packs - his and two others that belonged to members of the company who were having difficulty.

After Basic Training I went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina and James went to Ft Sill, Oklahoma.  We vowed we'd write but we never did.  I ended up at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and would have stayed there for the remainder of my time in the Army had I not volunteered to go to Vietnam (another whole story) where I served with the 214th Combat Aviation Battalion, a helicopter unit supporting 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta.  One day, half-way across a street in Saigon, I heard someone call my name.  I stopped right there, cyclos and motor scooters streaming by on both sides, and looked back...there was James Cooper with his ear-to-ear smile, waving with both bandaged hands.  It seems that now SGT Cooper, was in charge of an artillery piece that been had come under a human wave attack the night before.  The man in charge of pulling the spent shell casings from the gun had been wounded early on and James had stepped in to take his place without taking the time to put on the requisite asbestos gloves.  He downplayed his heroism by saying, "I only did it to get a day in Saigon."

A few years ago I told Christina about James and she said let's find him.  We did and we talked to him a number of times on the phone.  He lives in Palatka.  He's retired from Florida Power and Light after 30 years of service there.  He owns and operates a two truck pulp wood business and when we told him that we'd find him the next time we were in Palatka he said, "I'd love that...but don't tell anyone that you knew me in Vietnam.  No one knows I was there.  I just told them I was out of town for a while."

James Cooper, another member of the Class of '60.

PS from Bill Warren -

I know Jimmy Cooper very well. We worked for FP&L.. We worked on the same crew and had many good times. He later moved to another department, but we still remained friends, and when he got married we all attended. He is liked by all.