In September the R.E. Lee Class of 1965 will hold our 50th class reunion. Yep, it’s been 50 years since we accepted our well-earned diploma at Matthews Field and started out on that path we called “the rest of our lives.” My, how time does fly!
The Class of ‘65 was the largest class to ever graduate from Lee. I have always said that we had 243 graduates but I have heard other numbers, all ranging in the 240-250 range. Suffice it to say, this class of “baby-boomers” was a large assemblage. And I’ll join right in with the braggarts from all the other Lee classes and say that this was definitely the best class to ever exit the doors of the East Lee Street Institute.
As the years have crept by most of the good memories have remained, and in many cases been augmented, while the bad memories have fallen through the cracks. After 50 years we certainly have the right to brag that we were better than we actually were. Isn’t that human nature?
Many of my memories come from sports and we had some great athletes in the Class of ‘65. Many of us had the normal boyhood dream of becoming professionals, but all of us fell short of that level. We had outstanding coaches; however, who taught us to work hard and be a team player no matter what profession we entered into. Those coaches had a profound influence on our lives.
The football team entered the season ranked #1 in the state in pre-season polls. That was short-lived; however, as we lost the season-opener 6-0 to Griffin up at Griffin’s Memorial Stadium. I recall the gloom that this tough and unexpected loss created over the whole community. It was almost like the entire season was already over after losing in a huge upset to our arch-rival.
Our guys fought back to finish the season with a respectful but disappointing 6-2-1 record. I don’t recall why we only played nine games but an oddity was that the Lee defense recorded five shutouts while the Rebel offense was shut out three times. There was one 0-0 tie with Athens and in only two games did both teams score. It was really a strange season for what was a really, really good football team.
There were thirteen Class of ‘65 seniors on that team. They were Harold Tarrer, Rett Waller, Woody Woodall, Dwight Harrison, Garnett Grubb, Jimmy Haygood, Johnny Caldwell, Henry Harrell, Sife Perdue, Sandy Nelson, Gary Hamby, Larry Darsey, and Donald Kilgore. Bob Jones was a senior trainer for the Rebel squad.
All of these guys were, and still are, very good friends although Sife passed away after a tragic motorcycle accident a number of years ago.
The football games were an integral part of the history and the memories of the Class of 1965. Lee was in an era of very talented football teams that contended for and won region championships. This team did not win a title, but anyone who watched them play will confirm that they were one of the most talented to ever wear Lee’s old gold and black colors.
In next week’s column I will take a look at some of the other athletic teams from the 1964-65 school year.
Jim Fowler is a sports columnist and retired teacher and coach who worked in the local school system for many years. He is a founding board member of the Thomaston-Upson Sports Hall of Fame and is also the statistician for the Upson Lee football team, and has written a book about the history of football at R. E. Lee High School.