As a teenager, Herb Kirsh boasted he was the biggest advertiser for Howard Johnson's, a Clover restaurant that sold the best hamburgers curb-side to lovebirds and singles alike in the 1950s.
He was a regular on the patio, slurping a milkshake or an RC Cola.
But last Monday, Kirsh, now a state representative, sat with three friends to share chips and salsa and high school memories at what is now El Mexicano, one of many restaurants that has occupied the former Howard Johnson's place on North Main Street.
The friends -- Rachel Boyd and married couple Billy and Peggy Adams -- graduated from Clover, too. They didn't all "run together" then, Kirsh said, but being a Blue Eagle is universal among Clover folk. They beamed about what's coming up next month, a reunion much larger than their private dining room in the corner of the Mexican eatery.
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Sixteen classes of Clover graduates will reunite Aug. 23 at the Baxter Hood Center, a venue massive enough to hold the 360 guests who have accepted invitations. The reunion will bring together Eagles from 1945 through 1960 "to make up for the ones we've lost along the way," Kirsh said.
Kirsh graduated from Clover in 1946, back when South Carolina high schools only reached 11th grade.
Boyd graduated in 1951, the year Tupperware was invented, and Billy Adams graduated in 1950. His wife would have walked as an Eagle in '49, but she moved to North Carolina in eighth grade.
Peggy Adams was elected to organize next month's reunion with the help of nearly 40 volunteers, including former organizer Mac Henry, who keeps track of the numbers and pays the bills as treasurer this time around.
Peggy reflected on the four happy years she spent in Clover before her family moved. Everything centered around the churches, she said: Once you finished your own Vacation Bible School, you went to a friend's, too.
Parents didn't take up for your mistakes, she said, and the principal gave students a choice when they flubbed -- his paddle, or a call to Dad.
"I chose the paddle," Kirsh said about his only referral to the principal's office in 11th grade. "So did the five or six other guys I got in trouble with."
Peggy remembers making her own fun under the streetlights downtown and having plays in her parents' garage. There was beer in Clover, she said, but no one saw it. They had better things to do.
Better things, such as dancing in the street after the nine-cent movie at Harvey's, the only theater in town. Popcorn and candy cost a nickel at the time, and Saturday meant a double feature. Everyone made it out to see the continued "Zorro" series, Boyd said. Singing cowboys Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were big hits with "Happy Trails to You" and "Cool, Clear Water."
Times were tough, but only financially.
"We could be real poor, but we didn't know we were poor," Boyd said, smiling.
"Nobody had any money, but everybody was happy and secure," Peggy Adams added.
Further down Main Street, you could get your prescription filled in the back of the local drug store, where Dr. Moffat Wylie would charge 10 cents for a Coca Cola float, made of soda, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a shot of cherry syrup. Fifteen dollars would dress the whole family at the clothing store, and haircuts were 65 cents in the back of Stonewall Hopper's Men's Shop.
Everyone walked everywhere. If you needed a ride, you could hop on the fender. It wasn't dangerous, Boyd said, because the cars only went 25 miles per hour.
"If you saw a car, you knew who owned it and who was driving it, and you saw it coming from a mile away," Kirsh chimed in.
Back then, gas was 27 cents per gallon.
Kirsh's family owned a department store downtown, where a pair of work boots cost $2 to $3. He drove out to York every Friday night for square dancing, and he played football the year Clover made the state championship.
"That was back when high school kids drank milkshakes to celebrate," Kirsh joked.
The four Clover graduates didn't have to drive far to eat burritos and taco salads together, nearly 60 years later.
The Adams live in Gastonia. They grew up, married other people and found each other again in the early 1970s after being widowed. The two have been married for six years and share a family of four sons and a daughter, both from other marriages.
Rachel married Allen Boyd, famous in Clover for announcing football games for the last 43 years. They live in town and have three daughters who live in Fort Mill, Edgefield and Florida.
Kirsh met a girl in Manhattan while he was on vacation with his fraternity. They are now married, living in Clover, with grown children.
"Me in Clover or me in nothing," Kirsh told his wife, Sue, when they made plans to move together 59 years ago.
"She was excited that my family owned a department store... came down here expecting a Macy's," he reminisced, laughing. "She thanks the Lord every day for bringing her to this town."