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THE CLASS OF 1953

by Tumbleweed Smith

The 1953 graduating class of Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth has reunions every six months. “It all started after our 25th reunion,” says Barbara Larson Anderson, who keeps an up to date list of every one of the 254 graduates. “We have a computer program that has everybody’s maiden and married names, their addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and what they’ve been dong the past 57 years.”

The class has gone on cruises and meets in a different city every fall. “We’ve held our reunions in big and small towns all over the state and beyond,” says Barbara. “Usually we have our spring gatherings around the metroplex, since that’s where so many of our class members live.”

The sports teams at AHHS are called Yellow Jackets. So it seems perfectly logical to call the reunions “swarms.”

Ina Gooding Ericson, who has been in the travel agency business, says the reason the reunions started twice a year is because everybody discovered they liked each other and found the visits extremely satisfactory. “There’s no competition, no one-upmanship, we’re not trying to impress anybody, we just have a good time. We find out what everybody’s doing and keep up with each other’s kids.”

Many of the men in the class are engineers and got their start working at Consolidated, the airplane-building factory in the west end of Fort Worth, later known as General Dynamics (GD for short).

Arlington Heights High School serves much of the west side, from the Monticello Addition to Westover Hills, Ridglea and the residences around the Rivercrest Country Club, or roughly from IS 20 to White Settlement Road. Camp Bowie is the main drag for students at AHHS.

Buddy Martin, who has hosted the group at his place between Fort Worth and Weatherford, never misses a swarm. “I have all kinds of people I go to church with and work with, and friends I have coffee with almost daily, but this group is very special to me. I look forward to seeing everybody.”

The group looks good, mainly because many of them are still working and either own their own businesses or have enough clout at their jobs to do pretty much what they want to do. They have no trouble taking time off for travel. This fall, the group met at Permelia Yeager’s blackberry farm near Burnet and toured Longhorn Caverns, a winery and rode on the Vanishing Texas River Cruise.

In the early fifties, life was fairly simple. There was an innocence that the class refers to often. War was put aside for a while. The country had five years of peacetime before the Korean disturbance started and Americans loved that peace. They didn’t want to think about war. “We just wanted to wear our white bucks and comb our hair in ducktails,” says class member Joe Johnson of Luling. Not much to worry about.

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