Wilma Hughes: A Graduation Flood

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journal which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019, and supplemented with materials from her high school scrapbooks. My additions are in [brackets].

I graduated from R.A. Long High School in June 1948 [with an average grade of “C”]. That year, Longview was hit with a terrible flood. The place where we were to have our Senior Sneak Day was covered with about three feet of water. The day we were to have our Senior Assembly, school was closed and all able-bodied students were put to work filling sandbags on the dike. The river was well above flood stage. We were lucky to have commencement.

[The remainder of this information is gleaned from Wilma’s high school scrap books.]

From her graduation events program, she writes that her baccalaureate on May 30 covered “a very moving topic. It makes one stop and think that there is a great deal ahead of us to conquer”. It is interesting to note that for the practice on May 28, seating was segregated, with boys taking seats in the Sophomore section, and girls in the Senior section.

She received instructions for commencement and practice, of which there were two sessions on June 1 and 2. “When you receive your diplomas, say “Thank You”. Seniors are to leave the school grounds as soon as commencement practice is over.

Of the actual commencement ceremony, she writes: “a very beautiful pageant, telling of the progress that R.A. Long [School] has made.” The pageant was a history of the Longview schools to commemorate the silver anniversary of the city school system, and was inspired by the dedication speech delivered by R.A. Long when the school opened in 1929 and replaced the traditional commencement program.

There were 208 students in her graduating class. Her class colors were red and black, graduation robes were wine and white. Wilma kept her tassel, foregoing the 25 cent refund for its return.

Her prom was held on April 17 in the cafeteria. Music was provided by the Knights of Rhythm, (which she notes as her favorite band) and punch and cookies were served.

The theme of the Senior Girls Breakfast was “We Face Tomorrow”. It was hosted by the Longview Business and Professional Women’s Club at the Hotel Monticello on May 2 at 8:30 AM. The young ladies were told that “it was a challenge to all to keep their perspective as they face the tomorrow. All should develop a philosophy by which they can live and work, and should have a better understanding of the world problems. The facts one learns in school are not so essential as the experiences of living and working together, of becoming tolerant and doing away with prejudices.”

The All-Church Senior Banquet was held on May 26 at 6:30 PM at First Christian Church. According to tradition, mothers of the graduating students in the churches assist in the dining room and kitchen for this event. [I did not see anyone from Wilma’s family listed.]

Published by August-Phoenix-Mercantile

I'm a self taught hat maker, working in rescued textiles and found objects. My designs are inspired by my travels and historical studies. Learn more about me and my hats at https://augustphoenixhats.com/.

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