Murrah class of 1964 celebrate 55th reunion over four days with events in Jackson and Gulf Coast.
In high school, Jim Hitt and his friends would take on random feats of strength to prove their toughness.
One time, they ran through a thick patch of bamboo just to see how far they could get.
And on trips to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, they would run into the water to see how far they could go before waves knocked them down.
Hitt and his classmates recently were on the gulf coast again, this time for the second leg of their 55th high school reunion.
The Murrah High School class of 1964 celebrated the milestone with four days of celebration, including two in the capital city and two on the coast.
While there were no feats of strength, the group of 73-year-olds proved they were still pretty tough, staying up until the wee hours of the morning to talk, visit and enjoy each other’s company.
“We stayed up until after midnight talking and laughing,” Hitt said. “We’re in our 70s now, so part of life is telling old stories.”
Murrah class leaders began planning the four-day reunion more than a year ago and agreed to the “rolling reunion” at the urging of Northsider Joe Schmelzer.
“I said, ‘why don’t we do something we’ve never heard of? Let’s have the reunion in two places,’” Schmelzer said. “Let’s have it in Jackson, so those who want to come to Jackson can come here. Then, we’ll roll to the coast and have two days down there.”
Schmelzer had hoped to do the four-day event for the 50th reunion, but the idea took time to catch on.
Opinions were swayed, though, after more than 60 former Mustangs gathered on the coast to celebrate their 70th birthday.
“We saw the sights, played golf, went to Beauvior, had good meals,” Schmelzer recalled. “We had a much bigger crowd than we thought we would have and had a wonderful time.”
Nearly 420 students were in the 1964 graduating class, of whom about 76 have passed.
A few years ago, planning committee members decided to have reunions every five years, with a class birthday party - an unofficial reunion - in between.
“Our class really enjoys spending time with each other,” Hitt said. “Reunions get kind of busy, and its hard to sit down and talk to everybody.”
The 55th reunion was held in May. One-hundred and ten people attended events in Jackson on Friday and Saturday; 36 went to the coast to continue festivities Sunday and Monday.
“Fifteen from our class live down between Mobile and Gulfport. Some are in Fairhope, Ala. Some of them came to Jackson but didn’t go with us to the coast,” Schmelzer said. “Some people from Jackson didn’t go to the Jackson party but came to the coast.”
The itinerary included a Friday night get-together at the Country Club of Jackson, followed by a Saturday morning prayer breakfast and lunch gathering for former football players at Brent’s. Saturday night included a party at the Lake House on the Reservoir.
The next day, members traveled to the coast, just in time
for the Keesler Air Force Base air show, followed by a fish fry at the home of Lucy and Kelly Allgood, classmates who have a house facing the gulf.
Some former ball players took the opportunity to stop in and see Johnny McDaniel, one of their old football coaches who now lives in Hattiesburg.
“Coach couldn’t make it, but we stopped in to see him,” Hitt said.
The group stayed in the historic White House Hotel, the same beachfront inn classmates would stay in when they traveled to Biloxi in high school, and the same hotel the group stayed in for their 70th birthday.
Schmelzer likened the place to a big “frat house,” with a bar and a large seated area downstairs and a rooftop bar on the third floor.
Hitt was especially impressed with the hotel’s renovations. “They did an excellent job of updating it. Of course, in high school, we didn’t even know if they had air conditioning,” he said. “Now, the rooms have central air.”