Reunion of the 70s something to talk about

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2010

For some, going to school in the 1960s and ’70s were tumultuous times in Natchez. There was uncertainty about our society. Our parents feared for our safety as school integration became the law of the land. That fear knew no color lines. Black families and white families both were consumed by trepidation. What would the future hold?

Our own fears manifested in not knowing where we would be going to junior high and high school. We were comfortable with our friends from first grade who went to Carpenter I and Carpenter II. We knew the halls at Morgantown and Montebello and Margaret Martin. We knew our teachers and they knew us.

In 1970 we saw the trend developing. Some students would stay in the Natchez-Adams County Public Schools. Others would be shuffled off to Cathedral, Trinity, Adams County Christian and Thomas Jefferson. There would be two public high schools, North Natchez and South Natchez. There would be new people and new faces everywhere.

And there would be division. And there would be palatable fear — fear so strong that it took half a decade for the two city high schools to meet on the field of honor known as football. After much debate, screaming and insults, North Natchez and South Natchez did take the field for the first time in 1974. It was a fabulous game, both on and off the field. And, it helped ally some of the racially-charged fears that gripped our public schools that year.

Now, let’s fast forward to the 21st century. The youngsters who graduated from those high schools in Natchez during the decade of the 1970s are now middle age. And with age has come maturity and insight and understanding. It’s time, the Reunion of the 70s planners say, to put the fear of the past behind us and celebrate the maturity and insight that is our generation’s. It’s a time to say hello to old friends, rekindle friendships lost to the past four decades and make new friends with people we didn’t have the opportunity to meet in class.

A fantasy you ask? Not if you want it. Folks like Loretta Honnoll Ross, Susan Brewer Hicks, Matilda Ogden Stephens and scores of other unsung heroes are pulling together a great Reunion of the 70s weekend in Natchez for July 16-18. It’s a gargantuan task, but these dedicated volunteers are working magic to make this Reunion of the 70s something that people in Natchez will be talking about for years to come. And you know how Natchez people love to talk.

As the Bonnie Raitt’s song commands: “Let’s give ‘em something to talk about.”

Festivities will center at the fabulous Natchez Grand Hotel, located across the bluff where the Katherine Miller Fountain sits, and in the Natchez Convention Center. The Natchez Grand Hotel is offering spectacular room rates for the group and promising the toniest amenities it has to offer. There will be a fantastic reception with food and drinks on Friday. On Saturday, in addition to a golf tournament, there will be dance, with more drinks and food. During the dance there will be a silent auction of gracious goodies to raise money for local charities. It’s but a small effort to give something back to the town that gave us our education. Sunday’s fun starts off with brunch, and then everyone will head for the lake for a good old-fashioned ’70s style lake party.

The pricing for the weekend is all-inclusive except for the special hotel rates. There also is a pick-a-party and play plan. You can do it all or just the parts you want.

Kelly Carson is a 1975 graduate of South Natchez High School. A writer and editor living in Florida, she is the daughter of the late Martha and Warren Koon, who operated The Natchez Democrat in the 1970s. She can be reached at kcarson1957@yahoo.com.