It’s 1975; space race comes to an end


During the summer of 1975, three American astronauts had blast off aboard an Apollo spacecraft hours after Soviet cosmonauts had headed into orbit in a Soyuz spacecraft. Two days later, the three Americans and the two Soviets had linked their orbiting Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts for historic handshakes and expressions of goodwill 140 miles above earth. In both symbol and reality, the space race between the two superpowers had come to an end.

Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa was seen for the last time at the Manchu’s Red Fox restaurant in Detroit, Mich. The Voting Rights Act of 1975 abolished the literary requirement for voting. A grand jury acquitted the governor of Ohio and members of the National Guard in the Kent State killings. The last episode of “Gunsmoke” was run after 20 years on the air (Dickson, Paul. “From Elvis to E-Mail.” Springfield, Mass.: Federal Street Press, 1999, p. 217).

The 1975 graduating class of Coats High had proudly posed for the Harnett County News. Amy Parrish and Nicke Brown were mascots. Graduating students were Howard Lee Barnes, Julia Danenburg Butler, Debra Hardee Byrd, Diane Elizabeth Byrd, James Larry Campbell, Jimmy Earl Charles, Danny Cooke, Danette Marie Daniel, Debra Sue Denning, Mary Jo Denton, Ann Godwin Ennis, Joan Carroll Faulkner, Glenda Sparks Faulkner, Teresa Lynn Godwin, Wanda Lou Godwin, Roy Lane Gregory, Cathy Gail Grimes, James Randy Hedgepeth, Joy Renee Holmes, Edith Gail Horton, Robert Victor House, Sandra Kay Howard, Judith Ann Hunt, Arland Ray Johnson, Brenda Kay Johnson, Carolyn Beasley Johnson, Cynthia Ruth Johnson, Jennie Spears Johnson, Preston Lee Johnson, Richard Johnson, Rita Lynn Johnson, David Gerald Langdon, Lydia Florence Langdon, Bonnie Lynn Lee, Deborah Faye Mangum, Brenda McKoy, Charles Victor McLeod, Clifford Eugene Morris, Sandy Marie Neighbors, Sarah Lee Norris, Ronald Luther Peters, Cindy Denise Pleasant, Marilyn Sue Pollard, Marty Lee Poole, Johnny Ray Pope, Kevin Stanley Pope, Chrishel Inez Ray, Cecil Gail Regan, Kathy Hope Roberts, Leonard Arnett Rowland, Charles Leon Ryals, Craig Shannon, June Daphne Spears, Danny Lynn Stevens, Roger Dale Stevens, Pamela Ann Stephenson, Douglas Clay Stewart, Rebecca Ann Suggs, Beatrice Eileen Taylor, Vaughn Quinton Walden, Michael Jay Weaver, Timothy Holt Weaver, Anita Kim Whittington, Robert Whittington, Sheree Fay Wise, Anita Wolf, Wayne Wood and Vonda Faye Young (“Together We Leave” 1985). Please note that these names differ than those printed in the “Echoing Memories” of the Class of 1975).

Class of 1975, are the memories of your years at Coats High good ones? Would you want to live them again? For a few minutes of the present time, let’s revisit a few of the events in some of those years at the old school that is no more.

The 1975 yearbook was dedicated to Coach H. Tallie Dupree. Charles McLeod and Kathy Roberts were voted Mr. and Miss Echoing Memories. Kevin Pope was FHA Beau and Becky Suggs was FFA Sweetheart as well as Miss Coats High.

Vonda Young and Brenda McKoy were senior attendants of Miss Coats High. Jennifer Barnes and Dianne Flowers were junior attendants. Cathy Barefoot and Betty Williams represented the sophomore class while Karen Shannon and Teresa Tart won the freshman honors. Julia Norris was Homecoming Queen surrounded by Maids of Honor Bonnie Lee and Jennifer Barnes.

Randy Hedgepeth, editor of your “Echoing Memories,” told you, his classmates in 1975, when you glanced at the pages of your yearbook at some future time, he hoped you recalled the moments of the way you were — the moments of cheers and tears, the memories of laughter and the moments of doing things together.

Bonnie Lee was the business manager and Kimm Faircloth and Dudley Denning were the juniors learning how to fulfill the positions in 1976. Christine Stewart Hudson encouraged you to have a special annual. You remembered those who had died: Loretta Whitehead, Edna Parrish, Connie Denton, Hubert Rowland, Douglas Johnson, William Henry Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Spears, Gene Weaver and Nellie Ryals.

Vonda Young was student body president; Julia Norris was president of FBLA and Randy Hedgepeth was N.C. vice president of FBLA. Lydia Langdon and Anne Ennis worked hard to publish the “Jacket Buzz.” Dian Byrd was leader of the chorus. Sandra Howard was president of the Library Club. Leonard Rowland was president of the Beta Club. Scholastic marshals were Chief Randy Hedgepeth, Bonnie Lee, Leonard Rowland, Susan Matthews, Doris Turlington, Scott Walker, Sharon Ann Barefoot and Tyrone Williams.

Dudley Denning was president of the FFA and Sheree Wise headed up the FHA organization. Renee Holmes was chief of the cheerleaders. Bill Turner and Dan Honeycutt coached the football team and witnessed Jimmy Charles make All-Conference in the Carolina 1-A Division. Ray Johnson, Mike Weaver and Ray Jones made honorable mention. In the All East, the four made all honorable mentions.

Rhonda Pope was mascot of the cheerleaders. Gail Horton made All-Conference in basketball. Mike Weaver made headlines as an All-Conference basketball star. Dan Honeycutt coached the basketball team to the Harnett County runner-up status. Sandy Neighbors was president of the Monogram Club and Rita John son was Pep Club “top gun” (“Echoing Memories,” 1975, Coats High School).

The June 6, 1975, edition of The Daily Record printed that Diane Byrd, Anita Wolf, Jimmy Charles, Charles Ryals, Sandy Neighbors, Sarah Norris, Kevin Pope and Charles McLeod were presented pen for safe bus driving.

Who remembers when the high school students were no longer allowed to drive school buses to transport students? Does anyone know if students drove the first school trucks in the county?

I do know that Roy Jones was elected for the 1975 school year as president of the Student Council which was one of the highest honors a student could accomplish since the position was voted on by the entire student body. Roy was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones. Doris Turlington was elected president of the Beta Club. Doris was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Turlington Jr. (Daily Record, June 9, 1975).

Many times in the column I have mentioned a lady named Katherine Fleming. Death took this talented woman at the age of 66. Her services were held at Coats Baptist Church. Mrs. Fleming was the mother of Bland and Dr. Nesbit Fleming. Her mother, Ann Bland, lived in Buies Creek (Daily Record, June 11, 1975).

How many of you remember going to the Fleming house to have school Easter egg hunts or a hot dog roast for school events? The special woman was remembered by many for her musical talent and was recalled as opening the windows in her stately mansion so her music could be heard at the funerals in the nearby Coats Cemetery. She is also remembered for giving additional land for cemetery lots in that cemetery.

Both her sons married local Coats girls. Joy Dan Clayton married Bland and June Powell married Nesbit. How proud Dr. and Mrs. Fleming would be of their families and of the Coats community which they faithfully supported.

Ronnie Faulkner of Coats, son of Mr. and Mrs. Silas Faulkner, had been awarded a graduate fellowship to pursue doctoral work at the University of South Carolina in the 1975-76 school year (Daily Record, June 13, 1975).

Both a death and marital announcements were recorded in the June 19, 20 and 23, 1975, editions of The Daily Record. Mrs. Magdalene M. Stewart and James R. Dupree of Angier were married by Nick Joseph, magistrate. Cherry Johnson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan M. Johnson of Dunn, planned to marry Hughie Michael Ennis, son of Mrs. Howard (Skinny) Ennis and the late Mr. Ennis. A July 4 wedding was planned for Cynthia Ruth Johnson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hoover Johnson, and Tommy Owen Bennett, son of Mr. and Mrs. David Bennett.

Miss Coats Junior Order for the 1975-76 was to be crowned at the fourth annual Harnett County Bluegrass Festival. Another big event was being planned in Coats and it was the wedding of Mary Ellen Johnson and David Edward Davenport (Daily Record, June 24, 1975).

We have really enjoyed the responses that the museum is witnessing from posting the pictures on “Growing up in Coats” of former Mr. and Mrs. Echoing Memories, Miss Coats High, FFA Sweetheart, FHA Beau, Homecoming Queen and other queens. Can you imagine what it will be like when we attempt to bring all these men and women together for an event at the museum?

Coats Museum notes

The Class of 1962 recently lost a classmate, Kenneth Matthews, and the museum appreciates the memorial gift from his 1962 classmates. Thank you goes to Cheryl Whittington for dropping the memorial by the museum.

Also, a big thank you goes to Doris Johnson Nolan for her generous donation to help support the museum. Doris participated in our “Let’s Talk” session and it was exciting to have her classmate, Kenneth Keene, Mark and Jean Powell and Ralph Denning return last Monday to share their thoughts and thanks for a fun and informative event.

While Mark and Jean were at the museum, they donated a book on the history of the Durham and Southern Railroad, the pants from a 1970s football uniform from Coats High School, his shirt and coveralls from the Coats Rescue dating back to the beginning of the squad in 1974.

Would you like to know about the chartering of the squad in a later column? Mark shared with the volunteers about going out on the first call to the rescue squad. He also recalled his one and only time of delivering a baby.

If you run into Mark in Coats, have him share the story of the first ambulance donated to the squad by James Denning which was a 1962 Oldsmobile.


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