staying in touchBy MEGAN PHILLIPS,
After 62 years Murrah alums continue to gather for monthly lunches at Brent’s
It was 1955 when Murrah High School opened up, and it was 1956 when the school had its first graduating class.
Since then, much in the school has changed, including students, teachers, facilities and curriculums. But one group from the first graduating class continues to keep in touch with each other, even after 62 years.
“We have regular meetings every first Monday,” Russell Smith said. “We usually have about 12 or 15.”
Before Murrah was built, everyone in Jackson attended Central High School.
“Everybody in Jackson went to one high school. That was Central, and of course it got overcrowded… Jackson was still growing, and it needed another school,” Russell said.
Central High students were split into three groups, with Central continuing to serve students who lived in the central part of the city. Provine was built in west Jackson, and Murrah was built on Woodrow Wilson.
“Murrah took in Fondren, Meadowbrook, Northside Drive, Old Canton Road, all the way out to the Colonial Country Club area,” Russell said. “That’s the people that went to Murrah.”
Russell began Murrah as a senior in 1955 and enjoyed every second of it, making good friends and playing sports.
“We had a really, really good time. I think we had about 136 seniors… 71 girls and 65 boys. Our first football season, we had a 0-10 record, because most of us had never played any sports. Central was dominant in football. It was a big school,” Smith said.
Murrah became well-known for its scholastics soon after its founding.
“Murrah kind of set the standards for scholastics… We got good, solid teachers all the way from Bailey Junior High School to Murrah. We got a good education, and from then on, you could go where you want to.”
After graduating from Murrah in 1956, Russell attended Ole Miss, where he was graduated in 1962 with a degree in budgeting and finance. He also served in the military for a short period before graduating.
Russell worked for five years at a bank before working for Vickers for more than 20 years.
Throughout that time, Russell has always kept in touch with his group of friends from Murrah’s first graduating class.
“We just kind of stayed pretty close, a group of us. We probably have about 20… I think really when we quit having the reunion, we started meeting up each month.”
The last reunion was the 55-year reunion, Russell said. The 55-year reunion would have taken place in 2011.
“I think because we had a close relationship in high school, and we just decided that we wanted to have a meeting… There are a lot of classes that continually have a meeting besides us, but, being the first graduating class, I think that makes us a little more dedicated.”
The group enjoys going to Brent’s Drugstore for their monthly lunches. Alvin Brent, whose family owned the diner, is one of the group.
“Brent’s was kind of an after-school hangout. We had milkshakes and hamburgers, so it was kind of a hangout place after school. We’d get cherry cokes, milkshakes and all that kind of stuff. So, Brent’s Drugs is where we still meet.”
Russell and his wife, Martha Ann, a 1959 Murrah High School graduate, have made their home in Gluckstadt.
(photo) Some members of the Murrah Class of 1956 who still meet at Brent’s monthly include (from left) David McNair, Howard McMillan, Marvin Stockett, Estes (Skipper) Blackburn, Jim Moore, Russell Smith, Alvin Brent, Tommy Blair, George Wilkinson