Walking into the Bastrop Municipal Center on Friday was like stepping back in time – via the laughter and memories of old friends, extending back over 70 years ago.
Alumni from Morehouse Parish Training School and Morehouse High School 1943–1969 reunited for their bi-annual reunion. This year's theme was “A Past to Cherish. A History to Preserve.”
Thomas O. Milton, class of 1951, made the trip from Carson, Calif., to visit family and friends at the reunion. He remembered the extra-curricular activities he loved to participate in during his time at MPTS.
“I enjoyed all the plays. I acted in most of them,” Milton said. “I played basketball too.”
Milton, now 80 years old, said he makes the trip to Bastrop every two years, not only to see his friends, but also his family. Milton's mother, Jureitta Fort, 102, and oldest daughter, Elaine Bradford, were at the reunion.
“I use to come back every year. Now I come back every two years,” he said. “This is like a family reunion. Everyone here is just like family.”
The Morehouse School Reunion was first organized on October 13, 1977 by Freeman Woods. Woods came up with the idea for the reunion, after having been a guest at a school reunion in Texas.
A letter from Woods was printed in this year's tenth annual reunion yearbook. In the letter, Woods explained how his idea “took wings.”
“The vast majority [of local friends] agreed that someone else, whose name I have since forgotten, had tried to do the same thing; but it did not work out,” he wrote. "This time, I was going to make it work.”
Woods enlisted the help of MPTS's physical education teacher Dorothy Washington.
Washington, who came to the school in 1950, was known for being involved in almost everything at the school.
“When I first came, I was a substitute teacher. Then I switched to physical education,” she said. “I took on anything that came my way.”
Washington said another important role model came to the school that same year, William L. Washington. He established a football team.
“The boys didn't know anything about football,” she said. “He and I taught football to all the students.”
While football was evolving at the school, another relationship was transforming as well.
“Coach Washington and I fell in love and were married in 1953,” she said.
Bastrop resident Milton Jackson, class of 1951, remembers vividly when Dorothy and William Washington married.
“We all had a crush on her when she came,” he said. “Then Mr. Washington came and stole her from us.”
Jackson has fond memories of Woods also.
“He and I were running against each other one year for “Most Handsome” at the school,” he said. “He came to school the day of the judging wearing a suit. He looked so nice that he beat me.”
Although Dorothy Washington gave up coordinating the reunion years ago, she still attends the events and hopes they will continue.
“It delights me to see how large this reunion has become since we initiated it,” she said. “I hope everyone understands how important it is that they continue to keep happening.”