50th Reunion speech

Lafayette High School 50th Reunion – Class of 1966

“We’re Not Through Yet”

C. Kent (“Kenny”) Hatfield


Welcome, everyone. It’s so great to see all of you again.  I didn’t realize in 1966 when you elected me a class officer that I would have the honor of speaking to all of you fifty years later, but thanks for the opportunity. We have to acknowledge some special thanks to Sally Johns Crouch, Melanie Rohrer McCloud, Mike and Julie Curry Wash, Marian Kurz Hudson, Carol Ballard Neal, Ann Longacre, Tony Drew Chapman, Steve Lowe and several others on the Reunion Committee who have done such a great job in (1) arranging everything for this great weekend, and (2) even the tougher thing - getting us all here. Let’s show them our appreciation for a job well done!

You know, I went through the yearbook this week, and I was amazed, we all looked so thin! But look at you guys; you all look great! It’s good to know there’s still some tread on those tires. Just think, fifty years from now, this room will be filled with old ladies with tattoos!

I’m sure we’ll be swapping plenty of memories and stories tonight. Some of them might even be true! As Mark Twain said, “When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not….”

I had an opportunity to talk with a number of you last night when we had sort of an extended happy hour. Of course, for most of us now, happy hour is a nap. I heard a lot of interesting stories last night. One lady last night said she was still working … having a retired husband at home is a full time job.

As someone said, “By living this long, we’ve all become more valuable in the commodities market. We have silver hair, gold teeth, gemstones in our kidneys, sugar in our blood, lead in our butts, iron in our arteries, and loads of that renewable energy, natural gas.”1

Let’s talk about 1966 and Lafayette High School. Who were we? We came from Clays Mill Rd., Southland Dr., Picadome, Gardenside, Cardinal Valley, Lansdown, Gainesway, and the rural areas of Fayette County. Our class was enriched when we added a group of students from the recently-closed Douglas High School. We were a broad swath of the whole demographic.

Our class was the product of Lafayette Jr. High for many of us. For others, Leestown Jr. High or Hamilton Hall, if you remember that decrepit building. Our class was so large that they didn’t have room for us in junior high. Many of us will remember double sessions at Lafayette Jr. from 7-1 and 1-7. Who was in the morning session? Who was in the afternoon session?  Who remembers doing those calisthenics en mass everyday in the parking lot?

I’m not sure which was worse, getting up in the dark to get there at 7:00 a.m. or not getting home from school until 8:00 p.m.  But we got through it.

Our senior class had 632 graduating students. We were told at the time that it was the largest graduating class in the history of Kentucky. I don’t know if that was true, but I’ve always thought it was.  Who knows, it may still be the case.

We were a bunch of middle class kids, by and large. Public school kids. We didn’t come from privilege. We didn’t have a drug problem. There were no guns in our school. Few fights.  Once in a while a couple of guys may have had a scuffle over a girl’s affections. But


1 Thanks to our friend, the Internet, for a couple of jokes and thoughts.

that’s about it. All in all, we were pretty well behaved as a group. You may recall, at least the guys will, Mr. Lawson made any guy caught smoking, pick all the cigarette butts out of the urinals by hand.  Remember that?  That’s about as rough as it got.

For most of us, we were on our own after high school, or if we went to college, we worked a couple of part time jobs. I doubt that many of us lived in our parent’s basement until we were thirty.  We were a pretty self-sufficient group.

We listened to Elvis, the Beatles, the Supremes, the Beach Boys, the Temptations, the Four Seasons, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel. The best music ever, right? So much better than what passes for music these days. 1966 saw the first episode of Star Trek. Movies included Thunderball and Dr. Zhivago. The best picture was The Sound of Music, possibly still the best picture.  Ground was broken on the World Trade Center.

Ronald Reagan became Governor of California. And much as it pains me to say it, Texas Western won the NCAA tournament over our beloved Rupp’s Runts with a Lafayette grad at starting center. The average cost of a new house, $14,200. The average cost of a new car, $2,600.  And miniskirts were big.

We are baby boomers. The baby boom generation is generally considered to be from 1946-64. Most of us were born in 1948. We were the leading edge of this generation, a generation unlike any other. We are the sons and daughters of the greatest generation that fought World War II and the Korean War, and lived through the worst depression the country has ever known. We were the first generation with an extended adolescence; the first generation where college was widely available for those who wanted to attend. The first generation that was able to generate a little bit of disposable income to spend on things our parents could never afford.

Our generation has been called spoiled, self-absorbed, and narcissistic. That may be true when compared to the great sacrifices of our parents. It’s probably not true on a relative basis when compared with the generations that followed us; we’ve produced two presidents, and it looks like we’ll have another baby boomer in the White House after our election in November.

Do you think we got a good education? Lafayette opened in 1939. It was built on the site of an orphanage. Our school was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, the famous French general in the Revolutionary War. Interestingly, his family gave our school the right to use their family’s coat of arms as the school’s coat of arms.

In 1955, Lafayette became the first high school in Lexington to be integrated. The first African-American teachers joined our faculty in 1963 and were there while we were. Do you remember Viola Green and Betty Newby?   Anyone have them as teachers?

Do you think we received a quality education at Lafayette? Did Lafayette prepare us for the next step, college, military, career, parenthood?  I think it did.

Did any of you learn how to diagram a sentence?  Of course you did.  Can you still do it?

Did any of you learn to recite the “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales” in Middle English? I’ll bet there is someone here tonight who can still do at least part of it. Did you learn what a predicate nominative is? I won’t ask if you still know. But I’ll bet there is someone here tonight who can still conjugate a verb in Latin.  I thought so.

Are you glad you learned typing in Mrs. Breeze’s class or Mrs. Southgate’s class? Who ever would have thought that five decades years later we would spend our days typing documents and emails on our laptops and banging out texts on our smartphones?


We studied Shakespeare and classic literature, right? We learned sines, cosines, and tangents.  We learned basic chemistry and physics.

The point is that they taught us some important stuff back then. In my view, we received a classic education for the time. We received an education of great value that has sustained us for now fifty years, and continues to sustain us. We received an education we can be proud of!  Do you agree? Absolutely.

There were some momentous events occurring during our time at Lafayette. The Gemini space flights prepared for the later Apollo trips to the moon. Viet Nam escalated into a significant war. Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated? You know exactly where you were.  It was probably fifth hour class, our sophomore year at Lafayette.

Can you still hear Principal J. Lloyd Smith’s announcement that shocked and stunned us all? November 22, 1963, a date we will never forget.

I’m proud of our class, and I know that you are too. Who’s here from our Lafayette Band, the pride of the Bluegrass? Our band won so many awards and championships. Our senior year they played at a Cleveland Browns game. That was a big deal. There weren’t many games on TV in those days. At UK, there were so many members of our great band, leading the UK band.  Our orchestra was also great.  Our drama program was without equal in the state. We started a debate team that year. Many of our classmates accomplished great things. We all know that Lafayette had outstanding sports teams, and that was the case during our tenure also. Lafayette is the school that has won six state championships in basketball, and many in other sports, especially tennis and track.

It’s been interesting to read the profiles of our grads on the website. So many of you have led fascinating lives. Someone said, “aging doesn’t define you, aging distills you to your essence into who you really are.” We’ve all gone on to become the people we were destined to be. We’ve all had ups and downs, successes and failures, joys and heart aches. But I don’t think we’re through yet. I expect we’ll continue to work, to give, to lead, to provide, to sacrifice, to teach, just as we always have. Some of you will remember a few lines of a Robert Frost poem that some of us memorized our senior year:


The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.  2


As someone said about reunions, we knew each other when we weren’t fathers, mothers, grandparents. And what’s so special about our class and getting back together after all these years is that we knew you before you raised a family, educated your children, loved and spoiled your grandchildren, and before you passed your faith on to your children. We knew you before you worked so hard to become the man or woman you came to be, and the man or woman you are today, before you built that fine career.

We knew you before all that, when you were just a 16, 17, 18 year old public school, middle class kid, taking classes in school, playing sports, performing music and drama, engaging in hobbies of all kinds. We knew you at the Friday night sock hops, in the lunch line complaining about the food. We knew you in the band, at the ball game, in the Senior Play.  We knew you when your biggest concern was getting a date for the weekend.


2  From Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”


We knew you when life was so much simpler, yet so much fun. We knew you when we all laughed, a lot. What great days those were! How much we all cherish them; how rich our lives have been because of those times and those priceless memories.

But we’re not through yet. There is still plenty of work yet to be done. We still have miles to go and work to do.  I know that our class will continue to give, to be special.

I’m so glad that we’ve had such a great turnout this weekend and this opportunity to get reacquainted and to share special memories. I’m very proud, and very thankful, to have shared those memorable days with you.

To the great Lafayette High School Class of 1966, as Bob Hope said, “thanks for the memories.”   Thank you and God bless you all.