“Class of ’56 Brunch” is the subject of the email they receive from Jerry Gentle before the second Wednesday of the month. They are the Prosper Class of 1956, plus or minus a few years. They are not an exclusive group as they also welcome graduates of other schools near Prosper they grew up with, as well as spouses of the class of ’56 and even friends of classmates from any graduating class or community. This group of wonderful people are a living history of Prosper; they are the people, the places, and the essence of what Prosper once was and continues to be. I have been fortunate enough to be invited to their monthly brunch at the Cotton Gin a couple of times. Each time I am amazed at their relationships with each other, their genuine caring of one another, and the depth of the history that binds them all together.
Sitting at this table is almost surreal; a guest cannot possibly focus on just one person or conversation more than a few minutes at a time. There might be one conversation that divides into no less than four conversations happening all at once. They often start on a topic as a group and then it splinters off into several conversations, each going off on its own way to a different subject. Then, in time, they come back together on another topic. They interrupt each other without rudeness, they talk over each other to clarify, they ask as many questions of each other as they answer, and they laugh.
As a guest, I am the happy receiver of stories they’ve all lived through and heard many times already, but I am allowed another retelling. Ronnie Lynn begins a story about six man football games played right where the new Town Hall is currently being built. The fans would get to the game early because they would drive right up to the football field in their cars. Early to the game meant a better parking spot and they would either sit in their cars and watch or get out and gather in groups, standing on the sidelines to watch and cheer. Ronnie connected to an additional story about the time the local barber, “An old Navy guy, literally tackled one of the opponent’s team members as he was running by because he was an enlisted Marine and he wanted to show that Navy men were tougher.” The story is added onto by the telling of a player that ran out of bounds and hit his head on the bumper of a car so hard that it took a day or two for him to recover. The story includes a description of a football helmet’s material and lack of proper fitting during that time.
This then bridges into a conversation of other school sport uniforms throughout time. Jerry Gentle tells me there’s a photo in the Prosper Historical Society of her mother’s basketball team. She asks me if I know of the photo and to guess what their uniforms consisted of. I guess wrong and I’m told that they wore knee length bloomers as uniform bottoms and played the game on a white rock court. We laugh at the thought of playing basketball on rock and the unpredictable element that would add to the game.
Betty Hughes asks Jerry Gentle halfway through breakfast if she remembers the fourth grade girls’ sleep over their teacher hosted. The ladies each share pieces of this event where they remember being little girls laughing and talking, eating an entire large jar of dill pickles, and staying the night. I was impressed with this teacher hosting an entire class of girls, but Jerry and Betty clarify there were five girls in their entire class which results in laughter by all those listening to the story.
I’m told that everyone knew everyone and their parents knew everyone too, including all the kids. Therefore, not much happened that everyone didn’t know or find out about quickly. There are maiden names tossed around, relations to others and each other, there’s talk of births, marriages, immediate family, extended family, and of deaths too. The majority of the brunch group were born and raised here, but occasionally a classmate would move to Prosper and start school with them.
“Years ago” is how many of their stories begin and yet not all conversations are of the past. There’s a discussion of a Christmas cactus that never blooms at Christmas, but it blooms every August instead. They discuss current home improvements, health ailments, purchases large and small, current weather, travels, and they discuss the changes happening now in Prosper. The majority express their amazement in all growth of the Metroplex, but especially in Prosper.
The Class of ’56 Brunch is a gathering of friends that care about each other. They get together once a month, some attend more regularly than others, to have a meal and continue to share their lives with each other. Brunch is a quick hour, a wonderful hour to be a guest of, and a glance into how friendships last lifetimes.
Back Row left to right: Jerry Wayne Edwards, Betty Malone, Wallace Malone, Ronnie Lynn, Jerry Gentle, Betty Hughes
Front Row left to right: Jerry Lynn Edwards, Francis Lynn, Sandra Duncan, Shirley Whitley
Leslie Scott | Special to PROSPER Magazine