The Belton Journal

The Dead Fish Grill on Lake Belton served as the location for the Belton High School Class of 1964’s class reunion.

The event brought together old friends and classmates, rekindling memories and celebrating six decades of shared history.

Juanita Smith, one of the key organizers of the reunion, reflected on the enduring bond of the class.

“We have a little bit of a disagreement on how many were in our class. It was somewhere around 100 to 110.  And we have stayed very close, most of us, since 1964. Belton was very community-oriented,” she said.

The reunion saw a turnout of about 34 attendees, all eager to reconnect and reminisce.

One notable memory shared by many was of their senior English teacher, Mrs. Barnes.

“She was from England and had a little bit of an accent. She was strict and made sure that we learned everything, preparing us for college. She was probably the favorite teacher in the class,” Smith recounted.

Smith also highlighted the popular pastimes of their youth, particularly the local Dairy Queen.

“The Dairy Queen was a big thing. It was located close to where Sonic is now. It was like what you see in the movies about people just driving through. Everybody would gather there. Guys would drive around seeing if their girlfriends were there and have hamburgers and sodas. At that time, high school and junior high were in that area, so we were able to walk to Dairy Queen for our lunch. It was really a cool hangout,” she said.

Victor Salazar, another attendee and the historic quarterback of their high school football team, shared his fond memories of the close-knit community.

“It was like a big family. Everybody knew each other. Football and basketball were king. We had great administrators who knew individual students, and there was a lot of loyalty involved back then,” he said.

Salazar went on to share his journey after graduation, including his long career in education and administration.

“I graduated from Sam Houston State University and then coached for a long time. I also worked as an assistant principal, principal, HR director, and superintendent.”

Both Smith and Salazar reminisced about the disciplined yet nurturing environment of their school.

“Back then, you disobeyed, and you went out to get the paddle. You behaved because you didn’t want the paddle,” Salazar said.

The reunion also provided an opportunity to reflect on significant historical events that impacted their lives, including the Vietnam War.

“The Vietnam War was a big deal,” Smith said. “Most of the guys in our class were facing the draft. Everybody had to pitch for the draft. One of my friends went to Vietnam almost immediately. Many of them still have not recovered; they just can’t quite get their lives in order. Many were able to recover, but one of our members, James Wardlow, died after high school in Vietnam. He was the only person in our class that died in Vietnam.”

Near the end of the event, the group took a photo to commemorate the reunion, capturing the joyful faces of the Class of 1964 against the backdrop of Belton Lake.

In the spirit of looking forward, Juanita expressed her hopes for future generations of Belton High School students.

“I hope they get an education and have goals, that their goals will be set to carry on the good name in Belton.”

The 60th reunion of the Belton High School Class of 1964 was a heartfelt occasion, marked by fond memories and deep connections, reminding all of the strong community bonds that have endured over the decades.