Campbellsville High School

It was the Summer of ’65
By Claudia Johnson

        It was the summer of ’65. The Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Supremes played on the 
radio, but our little 6-year-old sun-kissed selves played red rover and drop the handkerchief on the Campbellsville school grounds.

        Aware of being the first class ever for summer Headstart, we knew we were special. Not 
because Ladybird Johnson had signed the colorful certificates presented each of us, but because they were adorned with characters from the Mickey Mouse Club we watched each afternoon at home on black and white TVs.

        As a testimony to the character of our parents, teachers and community leaders, none of us 
were aware that when we entered first grade, our county would have the first integrated public schools in Tennessee. Our oblivion meant every child was a potential friend and every teacher, a potential hero.

        Our first grade class was among the last to set at the low oak tables on oiled wooden floors and to get a weeks vacation for cotton picking in autumn.

        In spring tiny chairs with seats worn smooth by generations of feisty little backsides were 
hoisted and hauled to the edge of the softball field to watch the big boys play teams from far off places like Beech Hill or Elkton. A coke in a paper cup and a melty chocolate bar could be had for a dime.

        We saw Spot run each day during reading and put our heads on our desk at rest period. We tried not to scare ourselves on the outdoor path to the lunchroom by looking at a biology class skeleton strategically placed in an upstairs window, but we could never resist a peek.

        Our holiday bulletin boards had crosses and mangers alongside bunnies and Santas. We heard a Bible story every morning just after the pledge of allegiance and just before the prayer.

        Chapel was held every Friday with each class taking turns providing the program of music, skits or guest speakers. One April chapel in 2nd grade, we observed a moment of silence for the slain Dr. Martin Luther King.

        In 3rd grade we tackled “new math.”

        The summer after forth grade, we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon and a bunch of hippies do crazy things at some big concert in New York.

        By sixth grade, we girls wore bellbottoms and mini-skirts and had crushes on David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman. The boys still wore what their mamas told them and some had crushes on us!

        The single constant intrusion of the world was Viet Nam. None of us understood or even 
discussed the war, but the nightly TV tallies of war dead and the neighbors and relatives who went there, sometimes returning, sometimes not, made the place seem very close to Campbellsville.

        In 1999, on the eve of the millennium, the first graders of 1965 turned 40 years old. Forty is the birthday marked by black balloons and sympathetic looks. Forty is the age when women know they should have used more moisturizer and men are beginning join Hair Club for Men.

        In our 40s we’ve had just enough life experience to believe we can handle anything the future offers and know that “anything” very likely includes the joy of rocking grandbabies and the sorrow of burying mamas and daddies.

        But in the summer of ’65 our little Headstart class at Campbellsville school drew life-size 
outlines of ourselves on butcher paper, played “house” or “outlaws” in the privet hedge and learned to tie our shoes. ~-~


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