The Class of 1949 of Havre de Grace Colored High School had its commencement exercise on June 8, 1949.
As the reunion program notes, Harry S. Truman was president of the United States, the average income of an American family was $2,959 a year, a new car could be bought for $1,420, gasoline was 27 cents a gallon, a movie ticket was 60 cents (theaters in Harford County still had separate, balcony seating for African-Americans), a first class postage stamp was 3 cents, milk was 84 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread cost 14 cents.
In the news, Joe Louis, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, announced his retirement after holding the title for a dozen years and Louis Armstrong and his band gave a highly acclaimed performance in Paris with their rendition of "Boogie-Woogie on the St. Louis Blues." The Oscar for Best Picture went to "All the Kings Men."
The reunion program doesn't skirt the issue of racial segregation in public education in Maryland and Harford County, where the so-called separate "colored" schools for the county's African-American children existed in some form from Reconstruction in the late 1860s until 1965, a decade after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled the practice of "separate but equal" unconstitutional.
The program addresses the issue in "The History of Havre de Grace Colored Schools…from Slavery to Now" and also notes, "Until the 1960s, 'colored' was widely used and colloquial term to reference African-American people."
Also included in the program are proclamations wishing the class well from U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Gov. Martin O'Malley, Harford County Executive David Craig and Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty.
But the program's crowning achievement is the biographies and photographs from the lives of each of the eight reunion attendees.
They became teachers, nurses, career military and government employees, corporate leaders and entrepreneurs, engineers and other professionals, homemakers, philanthropists and an internationally known physician — Dr. Williams, who last year was inducted into the first class of the Havre de Grace High School Hall of Fame, a school he could not attend 70 years earlier because of his color.
Reunion organizer Pat Cole said she is proud of her father and the other class members and was happy to put the event together.
Asked if the group had a good time, she replied: "I believe they did. You should have seen them on the dance floor."