Most of us keep in touch with a few of our college or high school friends. Few of us do the same with people from elementary school.

Not so of Lonnie Wiggins, Betty Park and several dozen members of their seventh grade class of 1959. In fact, early this month, many of the students shown in this black-and-white photo will reunite to take another shot in the same location.

“This came about in conjunction with our 40th Woodrow Wilson High School class reunion — the class of 1964,” Wiggins says. “A lot of members of that reunion committee are ex-Lakewoodites, and comments have been made in the past to the effect of, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Lakewood [School] reunion.’

“So recently, some of us looked each other in the eye and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Wiggins and his classmates graduated from Lakewood Elementary (then called Lakewood School) as the first group of students to have gone all the way through from first through seventh grade. (The school opened in 1952, and back then students entered J.L. Long Middle School in the eighth grade.)

The fact that so many of those in the photo still keep in touch is unique to neighborhoods such as Lakewood, says Park, who lives in University Meadows.

“I just don’t think other places have that,” she says. “I think back in the early days, it was more like a small community, and it has kind of just stayed that way.”

The home where the photo was taken still exists, and in fact it’s owned by Wiggins’ brother, Harvey. The home, purchased by the Wiggins’ father, was built in 1949, and is only a couple of blocks from Lakewood Elementary.

The story goes that the DISD superintendent at the time, W.T. White, didn’t allow class photos to be taken at the school. So parents of the students pictured arranged to have a photo taken at the nearby house. Park and Wiggins remember the day.

“We were just lined up and walked to the house, where they had bleachers set up, and we just mounted the bleachers, and that’s when they took it,” Wiggins says. “And we went directly back to school.”

Wiggins said he assumes his parents’ house was chosen for its terraced back yard and because his mother was an active member of the PTA.

Times were simpler then, Park says.

“We were young and sheltered. We weren’t exposed to anything outside like in today’s world — crime, politics. We weren’t interested in anything but having a good time and learning.”

During free time, she says, kids would often take in a movie at the Arcadia, Granada or Lakewood theaters.

“I remember I saw “Dr. Zhivago” with my mother at the Arcadia.”

Both Wiggins and Park are looking forward to spending some time with their old classmates prior to the high-school reunion. They’re hoping their former principal, Paul Harris, who is still lives in the neighborhood, can make it.

“He was well liked,” Wiggins says.

Many of those pictured who are still in the neighborhood already know about the party, but they’re hoping some of their classmates will recognize themselves or someone they know in the photo, and they’ll have some surprise guests. So far, around 30 plan to attend.

“It’s already gotten bigger than I’d anticipated it would,” Wiggins says. “Some of the people are more excited about Lakewood thing than the Woodrow thing.”

Recognize yourself or someone you know in the photo? Contact Lonnie Wiggins at wiggins1@airmail.net for more information about the Lakewood School reunion. And look for the reunion photo in the September Advocate.


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