Write Again … Dr. John, Elvis, Pappy and JFK

Published 5:13 pm Monday, July 22, 2013

My wonderful First Wife’s Washington High School class had its

50th reunion earlier this summer.

She can scarcely believe a half-century has passed since her high-school graduation. (It’s been a goodly bit longer since my class did the


One of Sally’s classmates set down some recollections from his growing-up days here in Little Washington. Would that I could share in its entirety

that which he wrote, but the constraints of available space make that not an


Let me, however, share with you a sampling of Kenneth Dunlap’s

reminiscences. Kenneth, by the way, lives in Washington state. Now, that’s

a long way from here.

Here is a sampling:

• I think I am safe in assuming that the late Dr. John Cotten Tayloe was the first person that ever set eyes upon a lot of us.

• You, as I, probably feel we were blessed to have been born, having

such a carefree and tranquil youth.

• Our generation celebrated many heroes in the mid-1950s … Fess Parker’s  Davy “King of the Wild Frontier” Crocket.

• James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause” showed an accurate representation of teenage angst  and introduced us to what was “cool” and a rebelliousness of authority was born.

• Another individual … came onto the scene in 1956 who influenced music that never was and never will be. Elvis Presley introduced us to rock ‘n’roll … along with Buddy Holley and Bill Haley and the Comets.

Kenneth mentions Wildroot Cream Oil, the “Ed Sullivan Show” on

Sunday evenings, the “poodle skirt” and Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten

Commandments” shown at the Turnage.

He also remembers Hurricane Hazel, which visited us in 1954, Dr. Jonas

Salk and the polio vaccine, TV westerns such as Gene, Roy and Dale, Hoppy,

“Wagon Train” and “Gunsmoke.” And also Matt Dillon, Chester, and Miss Kitty.

Kenneth reminds us that the average cost of a new house in 1957 was

around $12,000, the average yearly wage was just under $5,000 and gas was around 25 cents a gallon.

Then he mentions Sputnik I, and the 1955 and 1957 Chevy “muscle’ cars”

and that McDonald’s came on the scene, and Hardee’s, too. He wrote, “My

arteries are clogging now.”

Among the teachers he mentions are Mr. O’Neal (John), Mrs. McGrath

(Virginia) and Miss Myrtie Cooper. He says, “Pappy” (Fowle) “showed us

where Turkey was,” and that he “had a unique way of disciplining us,” that “Mr. Blanton (Jim) had us memorize the Table of Elements and “Mrs.

Harris (Harriet) taxed our brains in Latin.”

Kenneth recalled that John Glenn orbited the Earth while they were in

high school, and he said, “We all remember where we were when we heard that

fateful day President JFK had been shot” and “never forgetting the cadence

of the somber drumbeat in the funeral procession. Li’l ‘John-John’ standing, saluting, and Jackie’s stoic outward appearance humbled us all.”

He also mentions Tayloe Drug Store, Radio-View Grill, the “Y” and

Bayview, Charlie Bell’s, Whichard’s Beach “and, need I say, Miz Carver’s?”

(He says they didn’t call it junk food then.)

These are some of the memories re-visited by a member of the WHS class

of 1963.

I’m sure those of his era and time also have such memories.

Regardless of which era any of us can claim as “ours,” those days of our

youth seem to remain with us.