We lived our teenage years during a time of peace and We grew up during the greatest possible era. There has never been a better time to be a teenager.
We never worried about peer pressure. All the boys wore their jeans the same way with a turned up cuff. The girls all wore dresses and skirts.
Only boys had flat tops and only girls wore ear rings, and three was too many.
We participated in the birth of "Rock and Roll" music. We did the Twist and the Mash Potato. It is said Elvis Presley actually appeared at the Mobile Fair before he went on Ed Sullivan.
We swam in Carre Lake, Miller's Park, and Johnson's Lake.
We played "Kick the Can" and "Spin the Bottle"
We enjoyed "Dew Drop Inn" hotdogs.
We went to Drive-In's, Air Show, Auto Show, Bama, and the Do Drive in on highway 45. After the drive in double features, and kissing our dates, who watched the movies? We drove our Muscle cars through "Ossie's", "Dick Russell's" and "Johnny's" to see and be seen.
But best of all in Forest Hill and Moffat Rd. we had "Dub's".
We did have drag races all over the place. Was not legal but we had fun, winning or losing.
You could drive down the beach at Gulf Shores to Alabama Point, there was no Bridge across to Florida. Private homes were spaced sometimes a half a mile or more apart. There was no high rises. Gulf Shores and Dauphin Island were ours to enjoy.
There were no K Marts or Walmarts. No Shopping Malls. When Bella Hess opened up we were all amazed, a one stop shopping place. You could buy clothes and groceries and whatever. They drained Ragg Swamp and then built Sprindale Plaza.
There were no Dollar General or Dollar Stores. We had five and dime, Woolworth, Kresses, Neisner's and Grant's. You could sit and get a milk shake or a sandwich. We had Planter's peanuts on Dauphin Street.
By Kenny & Brenda Michael, Class of 61
Photo - Kenny MIchael-Semmes High Class 1961 Blog
The class of 1961 was a unique and wonderful class with a blend of students from various backgrounds, from the rural country to the suburbs of Mobile. It was a period of time of consolidations of Mobile County Public Schools in order to meet the need of population growth.
Forest Hill Elementary, Wilmer Elementary and Tanner Williams Elementary and Semmes Elementary all attended Semmes High School. The class of 61 was the largest class (159) to graduate since the founding of Semmes School in 1887. This was the beginning of Semmes having the largest Schools, Elementary and High, in the Mobile County Public School system, (In 1965, Mary G. Montgomery High School was built to replace Semmes High School.)
The class of 1961 was not only unique in the blending of students from the city and rural areas, but had a loving caring spirit for one another. This is exemplified in the fact that the class after graduation had class reunion regularly and anyone who had been a part of the class was welcome to attend, not being forgotten.
This class has had people working in all professions: farmers, school teachers, college professors, nurses, eye surgeons, attorneys, a judge, an actor- film producer, missionary, pastors, business leaders, homemakers, tradesmen, industry workers, artists, and military careers.
And yet the most important quality of this class is the love, kindness and respect shown to one another. It made no matter where you came from, what your accomplishments or station of life. I am proud to be a member of the class of 61. Jeanette
Larry’s Career in the entertainment world began as a DJ at WABB, Mobile’s top 40 station after graduation from Semmes High.
His radio career included his own radio show, The Larry Black Show which aired on 125 radio stations.
His acting career was launched after appearing in ‘Earnest Goes to Camp’ with the part of the camp counselor, Mr. Tipton. This led to more than 40 roles in TV shows, made for TV movies and future films.Some of the films he has appeared in are Ernest Scared Stupid, October Sky, Pure Country 2: The Gift, TV series I'll Fly Away and In the Heat of the Night.
He is the founder of Gabriel Communications, specializing in the production of “Reunion Video’s.” He is the TV producer of Country Family Reunions, and Larry’s Country Diner, (his own show) as well as other Reunion Video’s.
Larry’s Country Diner is a country variety show that may be seen on RFD TV and is recorded as it is performed at Ray Steven’s CabaRay Dinner Theater in Nashville.
Larry is married, has three sons and lives in Nashville, TN, after having traveled to many cities in his DJ career.
The place where it all Began- Semmes High School
“I didn’t grow up in Semmes School like so many of my class mates, but I never felt like an outcast or like I didn’t belong; when my dad became the pastor of the Moffett Road Assemblies of God Church, I was half way through the 11th grade. Normally that would have been rough to come into a new school, but that was not so at Semmes.
All of my high school days I’d tried out for every play that rolled around, but never got a part. At Semmes, I took Mr. Cole’s Speech Class and the Jr. Class was in the middle of rehearsal for their play.
Buddy Porter had the lead in “The Truth the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth.” It was (as I recall) about 2 weeks before the play was to open when Buddy decided he didn’t want to stay in the play. Mr. Cole asked me if I would like the part. It was something I’d always wanted to do and here it was being handed to me, of course, I said yes.
The success of the play was great, it enabled me to show-off in front of the whole school and by the end of the play everyone knew me. This laid the ground work for what was to come.
Mr. Posey, the band director asked me to announce the half-time show at the football game. It was a themed event and scripted. I did and the next day my Algebra teacher, Mr. Gossett, complimented me on the half time show and said “have you ever considered radio and entertainment as a future vocation?” I think he knew from my Algebra Grades that I wasn’t going to be going into mathematics. That statement stuck with me and I became a DJ actor and producer.
And to think it all started with a lead role in the Junior Class play at Semmes High School.
Mr. Cole and Semmes High School, Thank you!
Preserving our History