Memories flowed through Bulldog Arena on Saturday, Aug. 19 as Jay graduates from all decades got together to reconnect with old classmates and friends.
Darwin Haggard, Class of 1957, talked about his favorite memories of Jay High School.
“The best memories I have is of being athletics,” Haggard said. “In basketball we beat some teams we weren’t supposed to beat. Our coach was Warren Shackleford who was an All American from the University of Tulsa.”
Shackleford was a Delaware County native and returned to coach at Jay.
“We played Oaks that year and we played man-to-man defense. Most hadn’t heard of that defense before. We went to Oaks and they had a long shot artist by the name of Maxie Thompson. Coach Shackleford told me when we got off the bus to play Haggard you have Maxie Thompson tonight. I said well do you want me to pick him up at half court or full court. He said pick him up soon as he walks into the gym,” Haggard said with a chuckle. “I will never forget that. I played really good that night. I held him down to half of what he had been scoring.”
Robert Lawson also a 1957 graduate but he has other memories of going to school in Jay.
“I was in the 4-H Club and that was about as important to me and was the main reason I enjoyed being in school,” said Lawson. “I was on the soil judging team and we went to nationals several times. Northeast Oklahoma A&M had a big contest up there and we won it one year. My life growing up pretty much was centered on agriculture. I lived on a farm we milked cows everyday.”
Lawson thought of a funny story that happened during his school days.
“I went to school with skunk scent on my shoes one day.”
Lawson said his brother had cut the scent bag out of a skunk and saved it. One morning with several on the bus and he released the scent.
“Boy the windows came down in a hurry and every one went crazy. We lived down in a valley and once we got to the top of the hill the bus driver pulled over and said boys you all are going to have to stay home today we can’t take it. I didn’t go back home I went on to school. Others including some that didn’t have skunk on them didn’t miss the opportunity to stay home from school that day but I went on to school.”
David Dunham graduated six years after Haggard ad Lawson and has his own special memories of Jay High School in 1963.
“My best memories are of the teachers and kids I had while I was in Jay,” Dunham said.
But it was one activity that Dunham enjoyed the most.
“What I enjoyed the most at Jay was FFA. I was in it all four years. I judged and showed animals. I showed hogs back then because that was pretty much what everyone showed. No one showed lambs, steers or goats back then. The show in the spring was the Spring Market Hog Show. They had it at the Jay sale one year and then the next year they would have it at the Grove sale barn. But it was nothing but a hog show back then,” said Dunham.
Dunham said his FFA teacher was one reason he enjoyed school and FFA back then.
“We had a wonderful teacher back then in Pete Daily. He was a really wonderful teacher. Everyone really liked him. FFA was my thing. He would take us on the judging trips and they were a lot of fun,” Dunham said.
Lana Fox was in the Class of 1960 from Jay.
“We had a great school and a nice gym. It was just a good time to grow up in Jay. We were raised in the best era. Our class started school in 1948 so we grew up in the best of times,” said Fox.
They all had a different account of how Jay was different when they were growing up.
“The things that have changed are Wal Mart coming in we have a bigger and nicer school now that when I went to school. We didn’t have a signal light when I was growing up here. That came later. We went to Joplin. My dad was a farmer so he would take his animals to Joplin to sell them. We had a Kelly’s back then but no Wal Mart.,” said Fox.
For Haggard it was the difference in traffic going through town back in the 50’s.
“There used to be an 18-wheeler every once in a while come through Jay. We would talk it about it for three weeks. That was a big deal back then to have one come through town. Now they go through all the time,” said Haggard.
Lawson said the way the kid’s act is the difference than when he grew up.
“The biggest difference back then was the discipline and what the students was used to back then. And what was expected back then. You didn’t violate the rules back then,” Lawson said.
Jay was much different back in the early 60’s according to Dunham.
“It has gotten a little bigger that it used to be,” said Dunham.
Dunham said one of the biggest differences is that a lot of the old buildings are gone including the old high school and gymnasium.
“The junior high and high school and the original gym were down where the football field is now. That is all gone is now,” Dunham said.
He also side the way families were back then has changed.
“We only had one car in the family when I was growing up. We also only had one television and it was black and white. Everyone went to bed at 9 o’clock back then,” said Dunham.
He also said people didn’t travel much to buy things they needed.
“You pretty much could get everything you needed in Jay. You were careful what you needed because you didn’t have a lot of money. All the kids in town were pretty much the same we were all poor,” said Dunham. “We went to Southwest City to get a few things. Pretty much everyone that left Jay to go buy anything they went to Southwest City. Grove wasn’t a big as Jay back then. We also raised most of our own food and meat back then.”
And of course they all remembered the music of their time.
“When I graduated is when rock-n-roll first came out and was exploding. The song I remember back then was Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis,” said Haggard.
Lawson also remembers the music from Elvis
“All the rock-n-roll had just started and I think probably Elvis was the big thing back then and all of his songs was a big hit. Buddy Holly was also really big. Now after I left Jay and went into the service I can still hear a song and tell you the name of it and where I was at in the world at the time,” said Lawson.
Dunham remembers a different era of music.
“The music he remembered the most back then was the Beatles. I remember when they came to America. I remember watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show. Grew up with Elvis music. The Beach Boys was also popular,” Dunham said.
But Fox believes the music of her time was the best.
“The Platters and so many other good singers and the best music. Living in Jay was just the best of times when I was growing up,” said Fox.