This is me my senior year but not my senior photo.
The senior photos then were black and white. I look better in this one.
I graduated from Hughson High School in 1967. Graduation was great but it came in second in my big events of the year.
Hughson was a much smaller town in the 60’s than it is today. The kids all knew one another well. We were in the same class with the same friends the entire time we were in school. I was so happy. I remember it was hot. I remember we walked in boy-girl couples. I remember some of the girls crying…I couldn’t figure out why. I was so excited for my life to continue on to the next step. I remember seeing Larry as I marched by him in the isle. I remember wearing the corsage he gave me.
My partner to march in with was a boy named Coy Stark. As we had been our entire school career, kindergarten to graduation, we were partners. Everything was always alphabetical. I always sat by Coy. I was always his partner on field trips. I was always his “student-helper” in the classes he had trouble understanding. He was smart, he just didn’t have time for school or school work. He hung out after school and weekends with his buddies instead of studying. He always seemed happy. Graduation night I was his partner for the last time. That night felt as if an era was ending. It was an era of school work, of childhood friends, and of being partners with Coy.
The war in Viet Nam was going furiously in our high school years. Many of the boys I went to school with went to war. Several of them didn’t come home alive. I think it was the summer of our graduation that Sammy McClurkin and Coy joined the service together and went to war.
Coy was killed in Viet Nam. I never learned the particulars of his death but I sure did feel a loss to know someone who had always been in my life wouldn’t be in it anymore. When Sammy came home he re-enlisted to go again. Someone told me they had spoken to Sammy and he’d made the statement he was going back “for Coy.” That year Sammy McClurkin’s named changed in my mind to Sam McClurkin.
Larry was exempt from the military at that time because of a student deferment and he was needed on the farm. All of us were forced to face the fact that the world is not full of just nice people. We all had to grow up faster than we would have liked. The protection we’d all had in the little community of Hughson came to a slamming halt. Every morning and every night we would search the obituary section of the newspapers hoping not to find any familiar names.
Turlock High and Hughson High were hit hard by fatalities, as were all the communities in the valley. There were no towns where there were no losses. Sometimes the paper check was good but very often there was a name we knew.
I remember very clearly my mother handing me the paper one morning and pointing to Coy’s name. Mom had been crying, she put her arms around me and we cried together. We cried for Coy’s family, for our family, and for our country who was losing so many of her precious young men.