Welcome to the Jordan High School Alumni website. This is a unique experiment as far as alumni websites go, in that it will almost entirely be the result of what you, the alumni, put into it. Our mission with this site is to help facilitate the ongoing communication amongst classmates, help in the planning of reunions and help keep the alumni informed about important happenings at our school and about your fellow classmates. Please take a moment and click on the register button at the top of this page, enter your name and your email address and select your class year so we will be able to easily contact you with our newsletter and other items of interest to your particular year.
The Alumni Association will be posting stories, newsletters and other articles of broad interest, but each of you have the ability to contribute your own content that will be available to the entire community, while also being easily searchable and retrievable by just your classmates. I strongly encourage you to go ahead and post something, let your friends know what you have been up to. Write a story about a favorite memory from your time at Jordan, post a picture or many, whatever strikes your fancy, this is your alumni website.
Again, welcome to the site, it may look sparse now, but with your help it will not be for long. Thanks again and please feel free to contact me at any time.
Stephen W. Barringer, JHS '81
Jordan High School Alumni Association
"Misty, watercolor mem-o-ries"
How does one write about high school without resorting to clichés?
Do you want me to say that JordanHigh School was "special"? Well, it was - in the same way that any other high school was special. The name on the front of the building is mostly irrelevant, because the high-school experience is fairly universal. To act as if our particular experience was somehow different would just be vanity.
Do you want a grocery list of prominent alumni? Want me to name CEOs and millionaires? Sorry, I'm not the guy for that job. If you really want to know, then Google it or join Facebook. I'm not about to write something that sounds like my cousin Matt's irritating Christmas letter ("Matt Junior won the District award for the Mid-South region for the third year in a row!"). *
*I dont really have a cousin Matt, but hopefully you get my drift.
Perhaps you'd like me to recall words of wisdom shared by my teachers? Well, in all honesty, the only statement that I literally recall is this timeless prose by the great John Avery:
Pork chops, pork chops
Are easy, easy.
Maybe I should share my memories of the typical high-school "highlight" events?
The prom? Never went.
High school dances? Sorry, I think you may be confusing me with Kevin Bacon in "Footloose." Don't feel bad - it happens.
That's the thing about memories. Everybody's memory works differently. For instance, the John Avery quote above reminds me that I got to do Algebra homework with Darlene Detomo and Mary Gwen Robins (doing homework with cheerleaders was a nice gig for a new kid in town). That, in turn, reminds me of sitting in the library with Ronald Green, who seriously thought that David May, Mark Metzgar and I were all the same person. And THAT reminds me of about a hundred David May stories, one of which involved David drunkenly trying to convince me that he was really a large chimp in a man suit. *
* of course, my memory may be clouded by the massive amount of Everclear that I consumed that night
And though I never thought that David was REALLY a chimp, I did once see him remove termites from their nest using only a small twig.
But those are MY memories, and are possibly (probably) of little interest to you, except that hearing old familiar names may cause you to experience a flood of your own memories involving these same people. And thats great! I hope that lots of people post their words and pictures on this site.
As I wrote this, I tried everything to recreate that old high-school feeling. I went back and looked through the yearbook. I listened to my old Eagles and Led Zeppelin albums. I reread "The Catcher in The Rye" and watched "Say Anything", "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Rushmore". As the end credits of Rushmore rolled across the screen, I heard the immortal words of The Small Faces (I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger. I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was stronger.)and I knew what I had to do.
It was apparent that I needed to go back and interview myself in 1977. A quick trip to the fridge confirmed that I had a sufficient stock of Coronas to facilitate time travel.
What follows is transcribed to the best of my abilities and is an accurate representation of my memories/dream/hallucination right up until the cat jumped on my head, terminating my time/space journey.
So, in the spirit of Holden Caulfield, Lloyd Dobler, Jeff Spicoli and Max Fischer, here goes nothing.
(For the purpose of this document, I will refer to my current self as "2009" and my younger self as "1977".)
I walk into my old room and observe my younger self listening to "Hotel California", while eating Doritos and drinking Kahlua and milk. My stomach, already irritated by multiple Coronas and the whole time/space thing, contracts at the sight of this revolting food combination.
My younger self (1977) seems to be expecting me. Perhaps the Doritos/Kahlua combo has transported him to a parallel time/space experience.
1977: Wow. So youre ME?
2009: I know. Weird, huh?
1977: Tell me about it. This feels like the end of "2001: A Space Odyssey".
2009: Yeah. Or "Big".
1977: Or what?
2009: Never mind.
1977: So, what's up?
2009: Well, I actually need to ask you some questions.
1977: But if you're ME, why do you need to ask me anything? Don't you know it all already?
2009: Work with me here, okay? I'm writing something for the Jordan Alumni Association, and I need a perspective from 1977.
1977: So you've come all this way to have me help you with your HOMEWORK?
2009: Not exactly.
1977: Come on, man. This is my summer vacation!
2009: Thomas Wolfe once said "You cant go home again." Would you care to comment?
1977: Um, shouldn't I be asking YOU that question?
2009: Hmmgood point.
1977: Thomas Wolfe once said....
2009: Oh, shut up! God, I had forgotten how annoying I was.
1977: So, Thomas Wolfe, CAN you go home again?
2009: Yes, you CAN go home. But it's as if somebody else lives there now. And the curtains are really strange.
1977: Can't you just give a straight answer? I mean, am I going to be giving these kinds of answers for the rest of my life?
2009: Sadly, yes.
1977: (takes one of 2009s Coronas) Great. Shoot me now.
2009: Okay, how about this? George Bernard Shaw said that "youth is wasted on the young." What do you think about that?
1977: Well, Im young. What do you expect me to say??
2009: Yes. Sorry! It's really weird interviewing yourself.
1977: No problem. You never could hold your beer.
2009: Does the phrase respect your elders mean anything to you?
1977: Sure. Does the phrase youve really let yourself go mean anything to YOU?
2009: Hey! Now that's uncalled for! (Looks in mirror) Do I really look THAT bad?
1977: (runs hand through hair unconsciously) Nobut the bald thing is really freaking me out.
2009: So what are your most outstanding memories from this year?
1977: I dont know. There's not really any one thing that stands out.
2009: Your classmates voted you most cynical. Do you think you deserved it?
1977: (looks at 2009 as if he's a moron)
2009: Did you vote for yourself?
1977: (same look)
2009: As I recall, didn't you and Kevin Adcock give Katrina Dalton some lingerie in English class?
1977: (shakes head) Not my finest moment.
2009: Refresh my memory. Why did you do that?
1977: It was all Kevin's idea.
2009: (nodding) Yes! Thats exactly how I remember it.
1977: (still shaking his head) I tried to tell him
2009: Okay, then. How about teachers? Who were your favorite or best teachers?
1977: Oh, Miss Simon was definitely my favorite.
2009: Right! What was your most memorable moment in her class?
1977: Probably the time she banished me from Yearbook class for excessive profanity.
2009: What happened?
1977: It was Marvin Jenkins fault.
2009: Care to elaborate?
1977: Why? Don't you remember?
2009: Hey, I definitely REMEMBER!! I just thought our readers might appreciate an explanation.
1977: (tries dipping a Dorito in the Kahlua - recoils in horror at the vile taste) Not gonna happen but Marvin knows what he did.
2009: Any other teachers you enjoyed?
1977: Yeah, Richard Hill was cool.
2009: Okay, what was your most outstanding memory from his class?
1977: He threatened to send me home from the JUNC trip to Washington.
2009: (rubs head wearily) Yes. Please tell everybody why.
1977: Well, the working sessions were at the same time as the ACC Tournament. So, I had to make a choice. Go and pretend I was a delegate from Venezuela or Morocco or someplace or watch the freaking ACC Championship game.
2009: So you blew off the session because you wanted to watch basketball?
1977: I prefer to call it a scheduling oversight. Or a simple difference of opinion.
2009: Really? How about we call it irresponsible immaturity?!?
1977: (throws Kahlua-dipped chip at 2009) You say po-tay-to and I say po-tah-to
2009: Okay, so far your most memorable experiences seem to consist almost entirely of you doing stupid things and then blaming it on other people.
1977: What can I say? I was a victim of circumstance.
2009: Speaking of teachers, you might be interested to know that Mr. Green just received an award from the alumni association.
1977: Really? Cool.
2009: Care to share any memories of Mr. Green?
1977: Oh, sure. Brilliant guy, great teacher. I'm sure the award is well-deserved.
2009: Any memorable moments you'd like to share?
1977: He basically told me that I would fail his class and wouldn't graduate and go to college unless I got my head out of my a....
2009: Keep it clean! This is a family website. Just the facts, please.
1977: Well, Ted Barringer and I actually did some great scientific work in Mr. Green's Physics class.
2009: So what was the problem?
1977: You see, technically, we weren't really following the class syllabus.
2009: In other words, you were goofing off.
1977: Not true! We actually came up with something called the Tall Man Theory. Very revolutionary stuff involving light rays or UV rays or something like that. I wish I had kept my textbook, so I could show you the diagrams.
2009: (sarcastically) Yeah, I'm sure if we could find them, they'd award you a retroactive Nobel Prize.
1977: Or maybe a trip to Disney World!
2009: (rubbing temples, trying to alleviate massive headache): Oh, God.
1977: (steals a Corona) Hey, what's wrong?
2009: I dont know, man. Talking to you makes me think of that Steely Dan song.
1977: "Rikki Dont Lose That Number"?
1977: "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"?
2009: No, not that's not even a Steely Dan song! That was Paul Simon.
1977: Whatever are you sure about that?
2009: Yes. Actually, I was thinking of "Reelin in the Years".
1977: I know. I was just messing with you.
2009: Look, do you have any questions for ME?
1977: (chugs down a Corona) Okay seriously am I REALLY going to look like that in 30 years?
2009: (smiles and then begins laughing)
I wake up laughing. The cat jumps off my head. I wonder to myself if it's 30 years too late to apologize to Mr. Green.
The Titans of T.C. Williams HS in Alexandria, Virginia had nothing on the Jordan Falcons from 1971 to 1974. Sure, they are more famous because of the movie, Remember the Titans! with Denzel Washington and that guy who is now on Scrubs and the fat guy who is on My Name is Earl, whatever that show is all about. But did any of those guys on the Titans football team go on to get a degree in physics, a masters degree in nuclear physics and a Ph.D. in plasma physics from a place called the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known as MIT? I didnt think so. I didnt see anything close to that in the closing postscript to the movie.
The Jordan Falcons did.his name is Bill Marable and I still call him a friend. The football team alone produced an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Herb Clark, who now resides in Seattle, Washington; a Judge, Tom Swaim, several successful businessmen, including Alan Roberson and David Crockett Long and that was only from a team with only 24 players at the beginning of the season. We finished with 17 due to injuries sustained throughout the season. Remember, it was not real cool to play the violent game of football back in the days of Flower Power, long-hair, hippies and Jesus Freaks.
Jordan produced people such as Alston Gardner who would go on to build a large successful business, sell it and then turned his attention to help UNC-Chapel Hill start an impressive entrepreneurial program, build a Global Education Center and, in his spare time, set up an undergrad program for students to study at the National University of Singapore. There was always more to life that athletics at Jordan, that is for sure.
Did I mention that the Class of 1974 was one of the first full classes of integration in the South, beginning in our 7th grade year at nearby, right next-door, as a matter-of-fact, Sherwood Githens Junior High School? In the summer of 1968, when there had already been the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, tensions were running high and Durham had established curfews at night to curb potential violence. Amidst that backdrop, the decision was made to close down Merrick-MooreHigh School, an all-black high school, and merge all of their students with Jordan HS out there on Garrett Road.
You know what? It worked. The first few months or so at both the high school and junior high school level saw some fights and racial tensions being played out from both sides but eventually, things smoothed out, classes were attended, games were played and dramas and musicals were performed. And stayed that way through the whole time we were there. Heck, the Jordan Falcons football team went from not being very good at all to beating NorthernHigh School in our junior year and winning the conference and going to the state playoffs in 1973 for the first time ever. I don't think the merger with Merrick- Moore hurt the athletic programs, I do know that for a fact. The administration at Jordan headed by Principal James Sills did an admirable job building the sort of school pride and spirit that was necessary to grow through those early days of integration.
If Coach Boone of the Titans had asked any athlete, white, black or Korean, at Jordan at that time: Whos your daddy, son?, we would have all said: Coach Larry Parrish, John Avery, Truman Hilton and John Popson are our daddies, sir! and meant every word of it. They were family within our athletic teams and probably had as much to do with our growth and development as our own real families.
But the real strengths of JordanHigh School were the teachers. Little did I know when I was suffering through all of the 4-hour per night minimum homework sessions that at least 4 of the teachers I had as a senior either had a Ph.D or were working on one while we were there. Imagine that! That many Ph.D. trained educators at the high school level. And they were not just trained at the art of teaching. They knew their stuff. Dr. Richard Hill was the one who blew on the fires of our youthful idealism in his history and economics courses and challenged us to Change the World!. He also was famous for his message on the chalkboard: Flunk NowAvoid the Rush! I even wanted to become a (Ralph) Naders Raider after hearing Dr. Hills (no relation) passionate expositions against the dangers of large corporate capitalism. I changed course during college after an internship at Coors Breweries in Golden, Colorado (sorry about that, Professor Hill!) but his ability to reach into history to pull out the most amazing nugget of relevance to the current situation is still with me today.
He inspired me to read history, biographies and autobiographies, so much that I can barely read fiction anymore; why read fiction when history is so much more unbelievable? Take a look at what has happened around us these last couple of years; you couldnt make this stuff up and sell it to Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. Kay Cooke inspired in us a fascination with politics and civic involvement. She even coaxed 6 of us to go to the Mock United Nations at HarvardUniversity as one of the first, maybe the first, public high school below the Hudson River to attend. After hearing all of the northern-accented, nasally-twinged Poinavorder, Mr. Chairman! Poinavorder! (Point of Order!) Pleeeeeeease! over a very long weekend, I swore I would never attend a college in the north, (I didnt) and would never do anything political again (I spent most of my career in and out of Capitol Hill for 22 years) So Kay and Dr. Hill, you won! And I remember many of the reasons why I got involved in the public square in the first place coming out of the time I spent with you in your classes at good old Jordan.
As to remembering the titrations, Dr. David Green , Mrs. Wheeler and all of the science and math teachers were best-in-show at Jordan. David Hall just told me that his sister won a scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a result of Dr. Green and the science department at Jordan. Ibba Wilkins went to Vanderbilt and just killed it and became a civil engineer; I dont know how many women were civil engineers in the 1980s but I dont think it was many. Marty Wortman went to Virginia Tech and worked on solar-powered batteries back before solar power was cool or even practical. Susan James and Debbie McCauley became physicians. I am sure there were many other students who were inspired to pursue a career in the sciences because of their experience at Jordan.
Those are the people who are going to save the world, you know; the scientists, the mathematicians, the mechanical engineers and so on, not the professional politicians in Washington, I can assure you of that.
Charles E. Jordan HS was the sort of place where you hope every kid could attend and learn from the great teachers. David Green modestly sends out his emails identifying himself as a Teacher of Physics
So was Archimedes. The modest ones are always the best and there were tons of them at JordanHigh School.
Around 2003, I was in my early 40s, recently separated and living in a two-bedroom apartment with my three kids in the Chatham County part of Chapel Hill. Our lives had changed dramatically that year. Sometimes when tragedies come and great change enters your life, some of your past runs together and fades. We were doing okay, but every single particle of my life was in limbo. I was slowly returning to the person I had once been. Sometimes separation and divorce will do that to you, return you to who you once were. Sometimes its a blessing.
My oldest daughter, Hope, was probably somewhere around fourteen or fifteen and hanging out with some classmates she had known for most of her life. I thought I was, if nothing else, a good shepherd to my kids. I was the honest, straight up mom that told it like it is. I had been part of a group of kids in high school that were known somewhat for their partying ways so I thought myself to be a cool, well-informed parent. I thought I knew a little something about kids because of how I was, but that was in the 1970s and things were different.
In the 1970s crack was something in the cement or between ones cheeks. Beer was something one could purchase at 18, liquor at 21. The only people we knew that had tattoos were our fathers, and then only if they had been in the military. Being gay was taboo. Piercing was limited to females and it was ears only. Music was on albums, cassettes, eight track or FM radio. We didnt grow up with MTV and very few of us actually had cable. Telephones were in the kitchen and your parents bedroom. Sexual innuendo and swearing were surprising to hear on any airways. Birth control was something you did not ask your parents about and as the story goes, safe sex meant your parents were out of town.
Despite the big differences, I came to find out that my kids also believed they were invincible. Additionally, they had the same thirst for rebellious excitement. I remember once Hope informed me who she was hanging out with. I had one of those mom moments where you think.Is that the person I want my kid to hang out with? Those kids are like.....well, they seem like God Forbid, like..like like me and my friends at that age!!!. Then she said it. She said, we're going to Sugar Lake.
When she informed me that she was going to Sugar Lake, the past flashed in my mind. Sugar Lake was something I had forgotten about. Sugar Lake was something that got lost in the twenty-some preceding years of wifehood and motherhood and struggles that brought my marriage to an end. Some of the past just sprang into my head and then slowly came back in little bits and pieces. In a moment that was both brief and lengthy at the same time, I thought how long it had been since I had done several things, including but not limited to and in no particular order I had not in twenty-some years: (1) been intoxicated anywhere but my own home; (2) climbed cliffs; (3) walked barefoot on rocks; (4) listened to a live band; (5) smoked something other than tobacco; (6) plunged off a rock or a diving board into water in which I could not see the bottom; (7) piled untold numbers of friends into a car; (8) bought an inner tube from a guy on the side of the road; (7) floated in water while drinking an adult beverage, before I was an adult; (8) been bitten by a fish; (9) not been entirely sure of exactly where I was; (10) been pursued by an officer of the law for anything more serious than a speeding ticket or most importantly, (11) wore a two-piece bathing suit in public. :-o. Among the memories of nudity, underage consumption of alcohol and fish biting, I had a fleeting "holy shit" memory of climbing a cliff in a bikini, mildly intoxicated and trying to get to my vehicle because I didn't care to be in a place where gunfire had become part of the festivities and I didn't know how I would explain to my mother how or why I had gotten shot, in Chatham County, in a bikini, climbing a cliff, after illegally consuming enough alcohol to make the climb more cumbersome that it had been two hours before when I was still sober.
Warren Toms & Larry Crocker
Not only was Hope going to Sugar Lake, but it was not her first trip. Not only was she going, but her little brother and sister were going. Not only were they going, but it was not their first trip there! The place I went in my youth that exemplified everything exciting and rebellious, the place I had not thought of in twenty-some years, the place I could not even remember where it actually was..this place was now the cool place my child would visit for fun in the sun, skipping school and partaking of illegal substances. Ahhhh....I needn't worry. My children didn't do that kind of thing. Yeah right!
Embarrassingly, I am not entirely certain of how Sugar Lake came to be. I heard stories that it was a rock quarry and during some excavation and underground spring was tapped and water filled the quarry. I have been told there are excavation equipment and cars beneath the water. There was an area on the far side that sloped down into the water, but that was not where we went in the 70s. In the 1970s, we partied on rock beds. If you jumped into the water, the leap was at least 20 feet. If you wanted to get out of the water, you climbed the rocks the same distance or swam to the other side where one could exit the water without climbing. Being a Durhamite, going to Sugar Lake was a trip. To get there, you drove forever into the country down Mt. Gilead Church Road in Chatham County. When you entered the area, there was man on the side of the road selling inner tubes for $5.00 each. It seems he charged admission, but I cannot remember for sure since I was never the driver on the adventure. Each car was handed a pamphlet which as I understand it was revised over the years. This one is from the late 1970s.
Chatham County was dry a dry county and very rural then so you had to get your adult beverages elsewhere prior to arrival. In the 1970s and probably into the 1980s there was a diving board and a stage. There was even a public bathroom. The Holla Band played at the stage. Hundreds of people would be floating around on inner tubes, drinking beer, diving off the board or the rocks, sunbathing and picnicking. Life could not be more carefree. I suppose this fun continued through the 90s and obviously into the early part of the 21st century, but subsequently the barriers were beyond approach.
I heard those things changed over the years. I heard that by the time my daughters friends attended Sugar Lake, they had to park outside a locked gate and the place was much less accessible due to the surrounding foliage and lack of road. It seems the size and aggressiveness of the critters and fish had increased from what she and others told me. It also seems that the place was policed quite a bit and it was not uncommon to be approached by officers who among other things, confiscated various mind altering goods.
In 2008, I had been introduced to a new form of cyber communication, Facebook. My kids were experts at Facebook, but I was not so sure of how this whole thing worked. A friend of mine, Cassandra Kramer, had introduced me to Meet-up, a few years prior and I had made a great deal of friends. Meet-up is a great thing for divorced people re-entering the social scene. One of my Meet-up friends invited me to join Facebook. I had heard my children talk about making friends on Facebook. I was less than curious about it all until I found myself online, looking for friends. How amazing it was to find people on Facebook that I knew 30 some years before.
On wintry days when you stay inside, you sometimes do things you wouldnt ordinarily do. On one cold winter day near Christmas 2008, I decided to start a Facebook Group. I called it, I Skipped School and went to Sugar Lake. I put up a few scanned pictures and I invited a handful of old friends to join. I also invited my daughter, Hope. Hope invited I dont know how many of her 1000+ Facebook friends. As of this writing, one day after Hopes 20th birthday, the Facebook Group, I Skipped School and went to Sugar Lake has 677 members spanning more than 30 years of generations.
Members are invited to write stories about their adventures and include pictures. The dated pictures of the 1970s and 1980s are so much fun to look at and the stories of youthful rebellion are always fun. Sugar Lake was a great place that had appeal for so many people in their youth. In some ways, It is a shame that kind of place is almost nonexistent now. Liability seems to control recreation to the point where having fun is far too pricey and regimented. However, being a parent, I think I am more at ease with things at the present state than how it was when I was young. I am sorry I don't know much more about Sugar Lake or how it came to be. Perhaps someone from the over 600 people who have joined the Facebook Group will have some knowledge about it. Even if they do not have knowledge about the history of the place, Sugar Lake provided some fun and interesting memories of carefree youth for several generations