H.B. Plant High School Class of 1954 Alumni

Class History


Adelaide Gonzalez Few wrote the following for the 40th Class Reunion booklet. Take a few minutes to join Adelaide on a walk down mewmeory lane!

REMEMBER ? ? ? ?

Decorating the gym with crepe paper...Football practice after school...Panther Prowl...Pep Rally Bonfires....When Dad's Stadium was new...FSU Flying Circus...Cooties...Crinoline slips so stiff they stood in the corner...the Sand flats...White bucks...
Keys jangling when Mr. Schlicter ran down the hall..."Sixty Minute Man”...Olives in your coke...Poodle skirts...Conga lines Football games at Phillips Field...Crew cuts...Beach parties ...Dances on the patio... Slam books...Penny loafers with dimes in them...P-L-A-N-T H-I; V-I-C-T-O-R-Y...Submarine races...N. Y. – Washington train trips...White sport coats...Black and white saddle oxfords..."May The Good Lord Bless and Keep You"...Sock Hops in the Gym...45 rpm records...Slumber parties ...Telephone numbers such as W-2152, or H-49434.. "Football train" trips...Y-Teen Dances...Dungarees rolled to the knees ...uh, uh, uh Peanuts...the Bunny Hop...Beating Hillsboro in football...Angora sweaters...Yellow mum corsages for Thanks-giving Day games...Colonnade hamburgers...Peroxide streaks in your hair...Pajama Dances...The GOC" Follies...


Friday nites at the Palma Ceia...the Strand...the Palace...
the Victory...the State...the Park Theaters...Newberry...Kress ...W.T. Grants...O’ Falks...Esrig...Weil-Maas...Haber"s... Tibbits Corner...Seeley's Chicken Basket...the Davis Island Pool ...Clearwater Beach Pavilion...O'Brien's...the Fair Grounds on N. Blvd....Chicken 'n Chips...Margaret Ann Grocery Store... Nagel's Bakery...Old Memorial Highway...Zichex Drive-in after movies at the Dale Mabry Drive In… The Tampa Terrace Hotel… The Rose Room...The Crystal Ball...The Islands Club...the Bay-to-Bay and Beach Park arches...Liggett’s Drugstore...Davis Islands Coliseum...Jack Pendola's...Viola Todd's...The 20th Century Drive-in...Richard's Drugstore...the Barcelona Skating Rink...Villa Euse...Lang's Ice Cream...Ralston Beach...Lake Carroll...Carmine's Pizza...the Columbia Restaurant after Pantherilla...the Haven Beach Hotel...and Graduation Day.

Ad-Libs by Adeleaide appeared in the Pep O' Plant in 1954

Members of the class of 1954 came into the world during the most somber time, the depression years of the mid-1930's, the years of the lowest birth rate in American history. We entered school during WWII, when the survival of democracy and the end to tyranny was the common goal. We emerged to spend our teen-aged years in perhaps the very best of times, the idyllic and peaceful period of the early 1950's. Happy Crew Cuts and Ponytails, we had not yet seen or even imagined the societal changes that would result from three events that took place during our high school years.

David Halbersham in his recent book about the Fifties, identifies those three milestone events as the new opportunity of the middle class to become homeowners, the Supreme Court school segregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and the rise in teen-age rebellion triggered by TV, movies, and music, and personified in Marion Brando, James Dean, and Elvis Presley.

We had already experienced suburban living in our little corner of the world, Palma Ceia. By the 1950's most of our families owned or were buying their homes and with that came back yard barbecues and cocktail parties. We experimented with cigarettes and liquor, and the daring with sex, for we were definitely pre-pill and pre-Roe v. Wade! We knew the Supreme Court had said that segregation in schools was illegal, but the reality of integrated classrooms never touched us until our own children went to school. And while the sullen James Dean and Marion Brando were watched in awe, Elvis was known in Tampa only to Rinaldi Printing, who would later print all of his promotional work for Col. Parker.

By graduation the military situation was in a lull. The Korean cease-fire had resulted in a stalemate; MacArthur had been banished, and we had decided we liked Ike (and even Tricky Dicky). And the French were trying to convince the State Department that we should help them out in (remember?) Indochina. The H-bomb had been exploded by us in the Marshall's and by the Russians in Siberia, and it was enough of a sobering experience to cause a slow down of militarization. So, we were the first and only class who escaped an active "war."

The ”Gap Generation" has another specific meaning, but there
really isn't a better term to describe us. We fell right into a
narrow gap between Korea and Viet Nam, flying saucers and Mercury astronauts, short shorts and Bermuda shorts, poodle haircuts and ironed hair, pop it beads and hula hoops, Bridey Murphy and the Wild One, droodles and Bill Haley , crinolines and miniskirts. We were pre-Elvis, pre-Beatles, pre-pill, and pre-drugs. And mostly we were pre-TV, at least in Tampa we were. TV was so new here that when we put out the 1954 Panther, we adopted television as the theme for the yearbook and then had a hard time finding a TV set to photograph the class notables and difficulty identifying TV programs with which to associate them. We could only get Channel 38 for a very few hours a day (remember the station on-the-air test pattern?) and Jacksonville's Channel 4 was hit and miss for those fortunate enough to have a huge antenna. Videotape didn't come into use until 1957, so we saw only live programs and few at that!

The big TV events of 1953-54 were the McCarthy Hearings and Mary Martin and Ethel Merman's Ford Anniversary Special. We saw Toast of the Town on Sunday nights, Your Hit Parade and Show of Shows on Saturday, but mostly we listened to the radio and records, post-45 RPM and pre-stereo or hi-fi....Kay Starr, Johnnie Ray, Joni James, Doris Day, Patti Page, Nat “King" Cole, Perry Como, Teresa Brewer and Rosemary Clooney. The closest thing to Rock Music was on the juke in the cafeteria, "Sixty Minute Man," and it played continuously. We read Mickey Spillane and, when we could get our hands on it, Confidential magazine. Photoplay was required reading to keep up with the true movie romances. Liz Taylor was on husband #2, Debbie and Eddie were an item, as were Frankie and Ava.

Friday nights were for the P.C., football games and sock hops and Saturdays were for the Passion Pit and making out, and, of course, there was always the 'Nade. Most of us (boys and girls) had curfews, imposed by our parents and not by the legislature. And if you violated, you were grounded, which meant you could not borrow the family car, spend the night, or go to beach parties.

Studying was a fact of life most of us accepted without complaint, and also without computers, copy machines, and most significantly, without air conditioning. We did our best at our studies, because that is what our parents expected. We didn't harass the teachers and detention was just about the worst penalty we had to deal with. Everyone took the senior placement exams and a small number of us were required to take SAT's for a few colleges, but grades and test scores were not hot topic items, and just about anyone who could afford it could go to college, as most of the PHS class of '54 did. There was still the draft to hang heavily over the guys, so some bit the bullet and enlisted while peace existed and then went to college on the GI Bill.

Once we left Plant, nothing was ever the same again. Big changes in everything around us left us breathless, and maybe we were ill-prepared, because for those special few years, everything was just about perfect. Most of us went to college, married, raised families, and had careers, all with varying degrees of satisfaction. But that is for another time. Reunions allow us to revisit and recapture for two short days that idyllic time. We can refuse to acknowledge any of the shattered illusions and dwell for a weekend on the sweet breath of our youth. And how sweet it was….

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