Vikings converge on Vidalia

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 4, 2010

NATCHEZ — Vidalia resident Jim Boles has been planning for his Vidalia Viking school reunion for three months.

Boles, who towers over regularly tall men, grew his hair long for three months to dress up as a Viking in a costume his wife made.

He made his official appearance at Saturday’s reunion at the Vidalia Convention Center.

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“I am the big, original Viking,” Boles said.

The center was packed with alumni from classes 1944 to 1971, each wearing a name tag with a black and white high school picture on it.

Across the hall from where the alumni were served lunch, a memorabilia room was set up with old uniforms, records, pictures and trophies.

In addition to the memorabilia, the room served as a memorial for more than 100 alumni from the classes represented at the event who have died. Each person’s name was listed and their high school picture was placed on a table with candles.

While remembering those that have died, many also enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with those in attendance.

Judy Poole, who lives in Brandon, said it was funny to talk to old friends and not realize until mid-conversation whom they were.

“Then you see their expressions and know who they are,” she said. “That’s always fun.”

Another group of men from the class returned to their days as 3B football stars.

“We never lost a game,” former peewee quarterback Billy Calvert said.

One 1965 faculty member in attendance, Tucker Milligan, was the coach of the girls’ basketball team.

Her team was the first team ever at Vidalia High to win a state championship, she said.

Milligan said seven other women on the team she coached were in attendance at the reunion.

Although Boles, who was in the class of 1962, lives in Vidalia and often sees friends he has known all his life, he said the reunion was a great chance to reconnect with other friends.

“I never expected this many (people to attend),” he said.

More than 400 people registered for the reunion event.

Despite his devotion to the Vidalia Vikings, Boles said he had a haircut and shave scheduled for 2 p.m., which should put the past behind him.