Whitesburg KY

Our 25th Jenkins H.S. reunion

I had just retired from the Air Force with 27 years of service, and this would be the first of two reunions I would attend. I had received by high school GED many years ago.

The first day we got together at Fishpond Lake with some of the students. My parents lived at Payne Gap, less than a mile from the lake.

My half-sister June attended with me. She told me that my cousin, Jack Brummett, would be there.

I knew Jack most of my life. I had played some sports with him before I joined the Army Air Corps at a young age and left Jenkins in December1944, before finishing high school.

I did not know we were cousins. Jack is also retired from the Air Force, and we stayed in touch with each other after the reunion.

We later had lunch at Jenkins Park, and I met his mother, Leah, and her sister, Mary Pritchard, for the first time. We had a long talk. That was 44 years ago.

I met the late Woodrow Crum. We had played sports together on the Burdine School grounds when I went to grade school there. His brother, Bill, was my classmate.

Their mother was like my second mother. She fed me when she worked in the cafeteria, when someone stole my lunch. I always took my lunch in a poke sack.

Jack Dingus was another good friend of mine. He taught me a lot about sports. We wrote each other for many years.

Wayne Collins and I talk on the phone once a week. Donn Croley worked for me for a few days during the Korean War. I offered to get him a stateside job, but he wanted to stay with his flight and was killed in Korea.

Rodney Gallion was my best friend while growing up. I got him a job in the Air Force where he worked for 22 years. He married our classmate, Bethaleen Bowers, who played many games of Bingo with my wife at the NCO Club.

Donn Croley, George Hay Cline and I were once picked up naked at Jenkins Lake by the cops after football practice. It was the first time I had done anything wrong.

Burdine and Jenkins schools had many beautiful young ladies, but I was so darn shy I could hardly talk to them.

I would later attend our 50-year reunion. Jack Brummett is a retired jet pilot, and my hero.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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