The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Old School: Litton High Forever

The Nashville high school I attended from 1954-1958, Isaac Litton, was a special place. It's gone now, at least the main buildings are, but it's memory lingers in the hearts of its graduates, and its influence in the community and the world is still being felt.
I can still remember those brisk cold Friday nights in the Fall when some friends and I from the neighborhood would hike up Riverwood towards Gallatin Pike, cut across the practice fields at Eastdale, and head to the football field where we'd find a place in the stands to watch the Lions. I can smell the hot dogs and the coffee even now. In my mind's eye I can still see Hawkins and Wallace as one of them received the kickoff and started that wild reverse return. And I can still hear the fiery fight song the band, the Marching 100, played that made you think you could conquer the world.

(Note: Coach Webb who's referred to in the video at the end, is an honorary member of our class.)

Our school was definitely "old school." And we were damn proud of it. Still are.

A week ago Joyce and I met as usual on the second Tuesday of the month with my friends from the 1958 graduating class of the old school.

The monthly class dinner is always lots of fun and last night was no exception. People seemed happy and full of energy. There were smiles aplenty, laughter, glasses tinkling, and lots of backslapping camaraderie.

Maybe it was the warm sunny day we had that Tuesday in Middle Tennessee. Could be we were a little more energetic because we knew spring itself was only a few days away on the calendar. Or, maybe it was the fact that Peyton Manning could possibly be coming to the Titans. (Well the Manning dream died, but that's okay.)

I'm sure all that stuff helped intensify things a little, but this group is kinda special, so it wouldn't have mattered if it was 20 degrees outside with snow on the ground. If we were there the joint would have been jumping anyway.

In the language of country rock musicians, athletes, and the milkman, we bring it, man.

It's been fifty-four years now this May since we got our diplomas from Mr. Foster and walked away from the old school for the last time. That's a long time. It's a cliche I know, but it seems just like yesterday.

As I sat there and looked around at the crowd, I remembered, as I'm sure all my classmates do, the teen angst and uncertainty that we all experienced in those years, the doubts, the fears all mixed up with youthful hubris. And I also thought of how generous and confident we seem now that all those youthful wars and the other ones we fought through the years are behind us now.

Sure we had our struggles.

But we survived back then.

And, even though most of us are retired, we still survive now. Make that thrive now. We're not just "busy." We're living to the limit.

Back then, and now too, you'd have to get up pretty early in the morning to get ahead of us.

And baby, when we're gone, you're gonna miss us.


  1. I'm envious, but in the best of all possible ways. By that I mean I attended six high schools in four years; I was a transfer student in my senior year. Thus: no lasting memories or friendships.

    There's a LOT to be said for "roots."

    1. Buck, Joyce had a similar upbringing to yours as the daughter of a Methodist preacher. She did have her last two years at the same high school, but before that, she was all over the place. She says she missed a lot, especially those "lasting memories and friendships." She does say that the "transitory" experience gave her some strengths. She could always walk into a room full of strangers and immediately begin talking to them with very little anxiety or hesitation.

  2. Good post, Dan. Buck makes a good point. I went to exactly 3 schools in 12 years. R.V. Kerr Elementary, T.O. Rusheon Jr. High, and Bossier High School. My Dad went to two schools...Bossier Elementary, and Bossier High.

    We shuffled our two oldest boys around in schools before finally settling back home. I regret that for their sakes. It was hard on them. By the time we "settled," #3 son was able to attend just 3 schools...with the same kids, and forge what I'm sure will be lifelong friendships.

    My 35th HS Reunion is in June, and I can hardly wait! Always a BLAST! I still get together with the old buds (the occasional chick will show up from time to time...Bobbie Sue, who was like "one of the guys.")

    Long comment, really saying nothing...I need to see if I can put together a YouTube video similar to that one from Litton. The Bossier High band was world famous back in the 50's (in HS Band circles) when Daddy went there...not so much in the 70's when I did, but still damn good.

    Good post, Dan.

    1. Andy, thanks. And you and Buck are right. There's something to be said for continuity in those critical years. My own son went to 5 schools between the 1st and 8th grades but he did get to settle into 1 high school for all 4 years.

      Before Joyce and I started going to the dinners last year, I only went to one other HS reunion, my 30th.

      I checked out the BHS marching band video. They were really good with straight lines and precision movements. I wasn't in the HS band myself, didn't play any instruments, but I always enjoyed the show and the music. I think our band got invited to play in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade one year and the Rose bowl on another occasion.

  3. Hey Dan! There is a vid up on YouTube.

    BHS Marching band at the 1960 Sugar Bowl.