Mayberry meets Happy Days: Kingman's Class of '62 shares memories

When the cops helped with drag races ...

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br>
The Mohave County Union High School class of 1962 met at the Old Elks Building Friday night for an evening of meeting old friends and memories. Reunion committee members from left are Grover Thomas, Mary Jane Hobbs Pattillo, Corliss Markee Foley, Joe Hart, Mary Jane Rutherford Tylor and Patsy Stone Voigt.  Chuck Cook, not pictured, was also on the committee.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br> The Mohave County Union High School class of 1962 met at the Old Elks Building Friday night for an evening of meeting old friends and memories. Reunion committee members from left are Grover Thomas, Mary Jane Hobbs Pattillo, Corliss Markee Foley, Joe Hart, Mary Jane Rutherford Tylor and Patsy Stone Voigt. Chuck Cook, not pictured, was also on the committee.

There wasn't much in the way of organized activities for the youth of Kingman in the early 1960s. They made their own fun - and some of it was pretty wild stuff - including drag racing in town and ditching class to head into the mountains or down to the lake.

Not quite Mayberry, not quite Happy Days. More like a little bit of both.

"Right where Cracker Barrel is today used to be a hill," said Corliss Foley, who graduated from Mohave County Union High School in 1962. "It was the starting line for a quarter-mile drag strip."

The weekly drag races were a big thing, Foley said. She remembers he husband, Pat Foley, beating out Oakie Joe Fass, who had a "really hot car."

"It was quite the accomplishment," she said.

Drag racing in town isn't the most legal of youthful activities, but back then the police would mark off the course for the racers, Foley said.

No longer teenagers, members of the Mohave County Union High School class of 1962 gathered Friday and Saturday at the Old Elks Building downtown for their 50-year reunion.

The t wo-day reunion didn't rely on any bells and whistles to entertain because more than 50 people showed up each night to simply visit with each other and get reacquainted.

Grover Thomas, who's spent much of his life traveling the world with his family, was the master of ceremonies.

No matter where he's at in the world - India, Portugal or at his home in Atlanta - he always tells people the same thing: "I'm just a kid from Kingman."

Kingman is much different than it used to be, he said. Less people gather downtown as regularly as they did in the 1960s, the in-town drag races are gone and there are a ton of fast food joints, he said.

But some things have stayed the same.

"It's still dusty. It's still windy. It's still full of great people," Thomas said.

At the reunion, booklets containing small biographies and photos of the less than 100 people who graduated that year were passed out. The booklet was dedicated to Sara Ann Waters Hargrove, the student body president in 1962, a teacher in Bullhead City for many years and the daughter of Dick Waters - the former publisher/editor of the Miner.

"She was in everything at the school," Foley said.

Mary Jane Hobbs Pattillo, who along with Foley and five others organized the reunion, was more into outdoor activities than the drag races.

"I ditched school a couple of times to go to the snow," Hobbs Pattillo said, as she let out a guilt-tinged giggle. "We used what the area already has to have fun."

Her favorite memory from 1962 was the senior class trip to Lake Mohave. It was just seniors, and the school used buses to take the students there.

"I was really into outdoors stuff then," she said.

The committee in charge of organizing the event put a lot of work into it. Foley, who served as the committee's chair, said the event wouldn't have happened without the work of the six others on the committee.

Foley helped organize several of the class of 1962 reunions, and Thomas has been the master of ceremonies every decade since 1972.

"Without Corliss, a lot of these reunions just wouldn't have happened," he said.