Class of 1937
Covington High grads celebrate 70th reunion
In 1937, The Great Depression had mired the United States in unemployment and poverty for almost a decade, yet small-town life continued as normally as it could.
Covington High School — as it was called when the building was located where the Covington Police Department now sits — awarded 39 young men and women with their high school diplomas that year.
Many of the vibrant, smilingfaced graduates have since passed away, but Wednesday evening six of those graduates gathered to celebrate their 70th class reunion and reminisce about the greenness of their youths and the city.
“We didn’t have an album,” said class president Sam Jordan as he hovered over a scrapbook, “but The Covington News would print an insert with the graduates.”
Jordan’s classmates voted him most likely to succeed, most popular boy, cutest boy, best natured boy, most dependable boy and best all around boy.
His boyish wit has stayed intact through the years, evidenced as he charmed his former classmates and their families with stories of senior pranks and teenage fun.
Jordan recalled when a few boys bought a two-horse carriage from a hardware store in town, disassembled it, hauled it to the roof of the high school and reassembled it.
This prank was far less harmless than the one that cleared the school. A male student decided it would be humorous if he relieved himself in one of the school’s heating ducts — the stench was horrible.
Jordan also remembered a beloved motorcycle on which he rode to school.
“I could ride all the way from Covington to Porterdale standing with my feet on the seat,” Jordan boasted.
Of course he didn’t do this when he drove class treasurer and secretary, Doris Fincher— Doris Hitchcock then— to school.
“Momma said ‘you were the last one of my girls I thought would ride a motorcycle,’” Fincher said.
Fincher said she has never driven because she was in a car accident as a young girl.
She remembered socializing at “pound parties,” so-called because everyone brought a pound of some dish to someone’s house and spread it on the table for everyone to enjoy.
“That was all you could afford back then,” Fincher said.
Because the Depression had squeezed most families’ wallets dry, students didn’t participate in clubs or hold dances.
“Iwasn’t in any clubs,” Fincher said. “Momma couldn’t afford to have me in any clubs — she did good just to send me to school.”
Many students, while not in school, worked part-time jobs to ease the financial strains on their families.
“I didn’t do much for fun back then because I worked,” said JamesWilliam Lassiter.
Lassiter worked after school at a grocery store for $6 a week. He was lucky enough, however, to drive himself into town in a 1937 Ford.
Jordan delivered groceries for the same store and described an eye-popping moment during one of his deliveries. He claims dur- ing one delivery he knocked on the wrong door of a Porterdale duplex. Someone inside said “come in,” and when he opened the door he discovered a naked woman bathing in a wash tub — who quickly covered herself with a towel.
“She said, ‘Oh I though you were the insurance salesman,’” Jordan said.
He jokes the incident caused him to aspire to become an insurance salesman, but after serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he became a corporate engineering director.
Voted most intellectual by his classmates, Lassiter also served in the Army Air Corps after graduating from high school. He was stationed on the island of Guam when the American pilots dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945.
Jordan was on Guam that day too, although he and Lassiter didn’t realize they had been deployed to the same location until years later.
Lassiter studied animal nutrition at the University of Georgia then the University of Illinois before returning to UGA to join the faculty. He retired 26 years ago as a professor emeritus, who had presented more than 100 papers and directed 12 individuals obtaining their masters and two obtaining their doctorates.
Fincher, voted most dependable girl, did what most young girls did after their high school graduations.
“I graduated in May and I married in August,” Fincher said. She eloped — escaping with her groom all the way to Conyers.
The graduates all agreed that much has changed in Covington since 1937.
“It was a dry county back then,” Jordan said, “but it didn’t make no difference because we didn’t drink like they do today.”
Jordan has a nickname for Covington, describing its role in metropolitan sprawl.
“It’s the bedroom of Atlanta — that’s what I call it,” Jordan said.
Lassiter said what once was a sleepy little community has grown more than anyone his age ever expected.
“Covington was a small town back in 1937, and now it’s a suburb of Atlanta— it’s just exploded,” Lassiter said. “I can get lost in Covington now.”
Together again: Members of The Covington High School Class of 1937 gathered at Applebee’s Wednesday evening to celebrate their 70th Class reunion. Class members in attendance were Doris Fincher, front left, Mabel Bone, William Lassiter, back left, Jewel Hitchcock, Orrin Bryan and Sam Jordan.