Sunday, June 24, 2012

David Dunfee Recalls Rock and Roll Era

David Dunfee recalled the Rock N’ Roll Era that hit Worth County at the time that the Class of 1962 graduated from Worth County. He spoke at the Worth County Alumni Reunion Sunday afternoon.
He said that Missouri stood out because people waved all the time, unlike Iowa, where he lives.
Dunfee and his friends grew up with coonskin caps, cherry fountain cokes, penny loafers, and everything else that made the early 1960’s a great time to grow up. John F. Kennedy was President, the Yankees were still a perennial powerhouse team behind Mickey Mantle, and the US was preparing to go to the moon.
As Dunfee grew up, Worth County transitioned from an era of one-room schoolhouses to consolidation. Gas was 10-17 cents a gallon and college tuition cost $400 per year.
Dunfee said that there was no such thing as fast food in those days; they ate as a family and that if he didn’t like something, “I had to sit there until I did.” He did all sorts of farming work, including stacking up hay bales in the barn; if it wasn’t done properly, they had to do it over again. If the weather was too hot, they would go fishing instead. They did not get their first TV, a Black & White, until he was 10.
The family had 1,000 chickens and Dunfee had to gather the eggs three times a day, clean them, and take them to Safeway in Maryville where they would get paid 25 cents per dozen. He also had to help hang clothes and iron as well in the era of no automatic washers and dryers.
Dunfee started off at Pine School, where there were eight grades and only nine students. The next year, there were only three. Lorraine Hughes was the teacher. The school was heated with a wood stove and they would have to get water.
Next, they would go to Allendale, where first through third graders, fourth through sixth, and seventh through eighth were all put together. Evelyn Groom, long-time teacher in the Worth County school system, was 19 and she was their teacher at Allendale.
In 1956, a lightning strike led to a fire that destroyed the old Worth County school building and Dunfee recalled going to the lumberyard, the Pixie, and the American Legion and going all over town to attend classes. Lunch was at the theater. This situation lasted during an acrimonious fight in which a bond issue was put on the ballot once every 30 days for 12 times before it finally passed. Finally, they moved into the present building.
The Class of 1962 had 26 girls and 9 boys, meaning that the football team was struggling to win games. But they finally broke a 24-game losing streak by beating Hamilton 19-14 and happy players threw Coach Rockne Calhoon in the shower afterwards. As the yearbook prophetically noted, “The Tiger has been asleep, but it is showing signs of awakening.”
Dunfee recounted some of the pranks pulled, such as the time when he and some other boys got some hay and stacked it in the door of the new school. They were found out and the principal called them into the office and made them take the hay back where they got it. Another time, Dunfee struggled to get out of the mud roads, which he said were much worse than they are now, to get to prom his junior year. Finally, he made it out and called uncle Arch Dunfee, the funeral home man, and asked him if he could come over and change his clothes before going to prom. Arch agreed but David freaked out when Arch asked him to lie down after David asked if he could show him how to put on a tie.
Another time, it was the winter of December 1961, one of the coldest winters on record, school let out early, and there was zero visibility one particular day. Long-time bus driver Garland Gibson called Dunfee up to the front and Dunfee would tell him if he was going off the side of the road. Jerry Litton, who would later become Congressman, spoke at graduation. There were two drug stores, two farm implement dealerships, three hardware stores, a jewelry store, two barber ships, and a grocery store in every town. There were two theaters in the county, one in Grant City and one in Allendale. The Skating Rink and Nell’s Drive-In were the place to be for teens.
At one point, the present Highway 169 was completed but was not officially opened for traffic. That was like a godsend for Dunfee and his fellow teens, who would get on that road and race on it without fear of cops or oncoming traffic.
Dunfee recalled driving in a red ‘57 Chevy and “the louder the muffler, the better.” Dunfee closed with recalling Lisa Beemer, the wife of the man who said, “Let’s Roll” during the 9/11 attacks. He said that each of us should find something beautiful daily and appreciate the small things in life.
There were 85 graduates and 23 guests present at the reunion Sunday, The Rinehart family had the most family members present and Victor Fletchall, Class of 1940, was the oldest grad. John Lutes from San Diego and Jim Rinehart from Maine were the farthest away. The class with the most present was the Class of 1962, with 11 present. Judith Matteson, Julie Tracy, and Janice Borey helped decorate the tables for the banquet. Lana (Dannar) Wake sang “Without a Valley.”

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