C.F. Vigor was Assistant Superintendent of Mobile County, Alabama
Public Schools for more than 30 years, serving from 1910 to November
3, 1941, and was mainly in charge of rural schools in the system. He
was a lifetime resident of Mobile, having graduated from Barton
Academy, and was the first president of the Mobile Education
It was fitting that in January of 1944, a new
elementary school at 913 N. Wilson Avenue in Prichard was named for
him. (This aerial view of the school was taken in 1957. The view is
toward the Southwest with Wilson Avenue at the bottom of the
picture). Originally there were eight grades in the school. After
its opening, the student enrollment quickly increased to such an
extent that three grades were put on double sessions.
Three years later, relief for overcrowding came when
the elementary grades were absorbed by other schools in the area.
Eight additional classrooms were added to the existing facility and
Vigor began concentrating on the upper grades. Before then, all
public high school students in the county had to travel to midtown
Mobile to attend Murphy. In those days, high schools had only 11
grades. Vigor’s first 11th grade graduating class was in 1952, the
same year the auditorium was added to the complex, and the last 11th
grade graduating class was in 1953, according to Clark Havard, whose
brother, Victor Neal Havard, was in that class. The first 12th grade
graduating class was in 1954. Elvis Presley, before he became the King, came to the campus in 1956 for an
assembly program that ended abruptly when Principal J. M. Laird had
the curtains pulled because of Elvis’ gyrations and unconventional
In the fall of 1956, when some of the class of 1960
entered Vigor in the 9th grade, a 12th grade had been added and
Vigor was becoming an up and coming member of the Big Four in Mobile
area high schools (Vigor, Murphy, University Military School and
McGill). The crowning night of recognition in 1956 was when Vigor
beat Murphy in football for the first time. The celebration at Ladd
Stadium lasted long after the end of the game. In fact, Vigor beat
Murphy for three of the four years that the Class of 1960 was in
This was not the only threesome that comes to mind for
the Class of 1960. There were three Valedictorians: Jimmy Hannah,
Dickie Bass and David Dennis and there were three co-captains of the
football team: Que McMasters, Haskell Dunn and Gary Bullock
In addition, Kenny Middleton was President of the
Class, Albert Gaston and Carolyn McDonald were voted Most Likely To
Succeed, George Mayfield and Sarah Jane Little were Mr. and Miss
Friendship, Pat Mastin was Miss Vigor, Joy Winfield was Homecoming
Queen and Suzelle Cranford was Head Cheerleader, just to name a few.
Vigor had its first exchange student, from Denmark, Rolf Albinuissen.
Vigor also had one of the most unique pranks played by two
classmates who skipped school one day and flew over the campus in
their plane, dropping flour bag bombs on the unsuspecting below.
Harry Noble wrote a poem in English class in tribute to the event.
Ask him to recite it. He can still remember it word for word.
Some graduates have been curious as to what happened to Rolf. As you may remember, while attending Vigor he lived with Billy Smith and his family in Chickasaw. Billy kept in touch with Rolf for a number of years. Rolf went back to Denmark and completed his senior year of high school there and went on to a Denmark university. Billy and his sister, Lynette, visited Rolf in 1964 and had a great time touring Germany and Holland.
After a few years the Smiths lost contact with Rolf. However, in the
Fall of 2006, Rolf found us through Google and this web site! He is a
Physician in a small town in Denmark and says, if able, he'd love to
attend our fiftieth reunion. We hope he can make it!
One of the lesser known facts about the Class of 1960 is that our baseball team won the Alabama State Championship. The playoffs took place in late May, well after the class had walked the aisles and collected their diplomas in a ceremony that was for the first time held in the newly-built Prichard Stadium adjacent to I-65. One of the reasons the team did so well was that Coach Terry Durham kept the team together the summer of 1959 and enrolled them in a semi-pro league in Mobile where they competed with experienced adults. As a result, Coach Charles Williams took over a well-practiced and well-skilled team in 1960 that consisted of lots of seniors. They included Buck Knizley, Que McMasters, Ronnie Williams, Jim Livings, Winston Weaver, Orville Green, Jim Evans and Dendral Lewis. Dendral Lewis went on to play baseball and basketball for Spring Hill College and underclassmen Vernon Newbill and Paul Crane went on to play football at the University of Alabama. Vigor won the championship in a best of three series against Tuscaloosa High School. The last game was won 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Who could forget swimming at Johnson’s Lake in Eight
Mile, sizzling delicious hamburgers at Tom’s near the campus and the
Kreame Bar in Chickasaw, roller skating at Rambo’s in Saraland,
bowling at the Smith Brother’s bowling lanes near the campus,
waterskiing on Bayou Sara and fishing in Chickasabouge. There was
the “Stairway to Stardom” teenage talent show on WAIP Prichard radio
on Sunday afternoons which Vigor dominated, dancing at the
Teenage Haven over the Prichard City Hall on Friday and Saturday
nights and, if all else failed, there was always the "Kali Oka Road
Mobile had only three television stations in
those days and there were movie theaters in both Prichard and
Chickasaw. Prichard had the Waterall, the Prichard, the Rex and the
Gem. Chickasaw had the Air Sho Drive-in and earlier the Chickasaw
Theater in the Chickasaw shopping center on Craft Highway. There
were flat tops, 45 rpm records, full skirts and bobby socks, ‘Dixon
on Disk” television show on Channel 10, sock hops in the gym after
games, and much, much more.
Come remember the 50’s and 60’s and renew old
friendships at the 50th reunion of the Class of 1960, Dates TBD, 2010, at
Check out this web site for more details about the reunion.