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Vassallo: Remembering the Bygone High School Days

Steve Vassallo (left) with Jim "The General" Stephens (right)
Steve Vassallo (left) with Mitch H. Tyner, Sr. (State Committee Chair for Donald J. Trump)

Recently, I overheard my close friend, Jim Stephens (The General), discussing how much he was looking forward to his 50th High School Reunion in New Albany.

High School Reunions can be fun, but they can also bring back a storehouse of memories both good and not so good. I will challenge any of our readers to describe a four-year period that tops what happened while my class went through ninth grade to twelveth grade.

To start with, the Kennedy assassination occurred. What a shocker this was, learning about it in Algebra II class. Next, there was the Cuban Missile Crisis that overshadowed Mechanical Drawing. And if these two didn’t shake up study hall, what about the Civil Rights unrest and the riots at Ole Miss?

Society changed drastically during my time at Hillsboro in Nashville. The music scene turned upside down ala the British Invasion and the introduction of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Motown was in its infancy and Bob Dylan was lighting up the charts along with the King himself. Music would never be the same. Color television was just being introduced.

And then there was the world of sports which I loved dearly. Ole Miss was winning national championships despite the civil unrest. Arnold Palmer established his army by winning two Masters and a couple of British Opens to go with them. Jack Nicklaus was just coming out of the starting gate as was Gary Player. Kentucky and UCLA were dominating college basketball. And of course the New York Yankees with Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi dominating the box scores. Who could have asked for more during their high school run?

Motion pictures were still being screened at one movie theaters along with the drive-ins. Who could ever forget those wonderful drive-ins? We had one in south Nashville on Highway 100 that still brings back fond thoughts. The one that was in Oxford is also legendary. John Wayne was male’s top billing along with Elizabeth Taylor on the female side of the coin. But we could never leave out Grace Kelly.

Closing with politics (don’t we always), the conservative movement truly began under the direction of the junior senator from Arizona while Richard Nixon was losing the gubernatorial race in California to a liberal of Earl Warren proportion. And how could I omit Vietnam? Wow! What a four years. How we got through Chemistry with all of this going on, I’ll never know. Maybe it was because we didn’t have the distractions of computers and cell phones. Had I been texting girlfriends and others during that time, I might never have found Oxford. Thank God for a technology-free zone during my childhood! Transistor radios were all I could handle.

Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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