The Oak Lawn and Turner High School memorial service and parade Saturday were celebrations of cherished memories, living life to the fullest and school pride.
“Today we’re going to enjoy what we have. Let’s enjoy it,” said mistress of ceremonies Versie Reed Burrell, Turner High class of 1958. “When it’s done, it’s done, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Old friends and new acquaintances alike joined together in the Lord’s Prayer and in a spirited rendition of the Oak Lawn and Turner High School songs in a pavilion on the site of Oak Lawn School.
The ceremony also honored the graduates of the schools who have died during the past year in a reading of more than 20 names, and time was given to honor any members that event organizers might have missed.
Even though some of their classmates may be gone, Burrell said, “We still hold them in our hearts and in our memories.”
A moment of silence was also observed.
Following the memorial service, Constable and former Turner High principal and coach Jimmie Ray took charge as parade marshal, lining up cars and floats with the class of 1939 leading the way.
Festively decorated cars and floats toured the streets around Oak Lawn, as families and fellow alumni lined the sidewalks with waves and smiles in the sunny weather.
The unveiling of the Freedman Memorial originally scheduled for immediately after the parade was postponed due to difficulties installing the monument as a result of the recent wet weather. The event will be rescheduled.
A separate unveiling of a historical marker honoring Bessie Coleman went as planned in Freedman’s Memorial Plaza on Friday, with city officials and community members in attendance.
Alumni said the reunions are a wonderful opportunity to greet old and new faces a like.
Melvin Black of the Oak Lawn class of 1955 said he regularly travels from Las Vegas for the biennial event.
“I hope they continue to have it so we can come in and fellowship,” he said. “It’s a great thing to have. It’s the memories we have when we come together.”
Black said he’s seen “tremendous change” from the days of the small Oak Lawn school, which no longer stands. He remembered walking from the back of the school into wooden houses only a short distance away for lunch every day.
Burrell said the memories and friends old and new always make the reunion a special event.
“It feels good, and it feels good to meet my classmates,” she said. “It’s just beautiful memory. …We always try to remember all the good things.”
The memorial service and parade were only a small part of the reunion festivities, which conclude with music and food at 2:30 p.m. today in the Crape Myrtle Room of the Waxahachie Civic Center.