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Thursday, June 9, 2011

1974 :: Rockdale Homecoming

Rockdale Reporter, Thursday, June 13, 1974. Record Crowd Attends Homecoming. Rockdale's Homecoming at Fair Park Sunday (June 9, 1974) drew an estimated crowd of 400, the largest since the Homecoming Association was organized in 1933. With Rockdale celebrating its Centennial year this week, the Homecoming had particular appeal to former residents, and local residents turned out in large numbers to greet the "Homecomers."

They came from all parts of Texas and from California, Kentucky, New York, and Louisiana. The guest register showed Houston listed more than any other city. Mrs. Hazel Largent Benjamin, of Torrance, Calif., was awarded a Centennial souvenir for the visitor coming the greatest distance -- 1661 miles. Similar awards went to the oldest man and oldest woman present -- both from Rockdale. They were Jack Richards, 89, and Mrs. Lillie Martin, 92.

The event saw visitors start arriving at Fair Park at mid-morning. Following some two hours of visiting and talking over old times, a barbecue chicken lunch was served in Fair Park pavilion by the women of the New Salem Home Demonstration Club. Helmer Dahl, of Hutto, organist, provided background music.

W.H. Cooke emceed a short program that included the presentation of awards and election of officers for the Homecoming Association. "We held the program to a minimum to give visitors and local citizens a maximum time for visiting and talking over old times," he said. Glenn Hodges told the visitors about Rockdale's new $2.5 million hospital now under construction.

In the election of officers, Cooke was named president, succeeding Hugh Estell, this year's president, who was moved to the office of vice president being vacated by Cooke. Mrs. Cooke was named corresponding secretary, replacing Mrs. Hugh Estell who has been serving in this capacity. She was unable to attend this year's Homecoming, having had surgery at Richard's Hospital the previous Friday. Mrs. Louise Sessions was reelected recording secretary and Miss Emma Hardie was reelected to the treasurer's post. 

The meeting disbanded shortly before 2 p.m., but the "visiting and yarn spilling" continued for another hour for many. Others participated in various events of the Rockdale Centennial program during the remainder of the afternoon. The museum and art show were open downtown, and many visitors joined the tour of Alcoa's Rockdale Works, "the nation's largest aluminum smelter." Many stayed for the community-wide church services at the football field at 6 p.m. The old homes tour also drew many former residents. 

Retiring president Estell said the Association finished the Homecoming year "in the black" for the first time. He reported $386 in the collection box for those attending. "After paying all bills," Estell said, "the Association has a balance of approximately $75 on hand." The Association's income comes from membership dues which are $5 a year. Estell and incoming president Cooke said membership cards will be mailed to out-of-town residents who request membership, although this is not a requisite for attending the annual Homecoming.

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