Profile: Hugh Cunningham

What year did you graduate?

What was it like at Dora High during the early 60s?
It was a time of fulfillment, fears and frustrations. All of us were trying to get grown up, learn all we could and look forward to the future. We had our friends and acquaintances, and our families to challenge and support us as we felt our way into the future.

What do you remember most about high school?
There are many things, such as the Beta Club conventions, the science fairs, Miss DHS pageants, classes, sports, and the kinder, gentler times that we knew back then.

Have you had any class reunions?
I missed the reunion in 1981, but went to the one in 1991. I saw many classmates. I hope we can have one in 2011, it would be a 50 year reunion.

What kinds of things activities did you do at Dora High?
Were there teachers that meant a lot to you? All my teachers meant a lot to me. In their own way, each contributed to the formation of my character and provided a good example of success and enjoyment of living. Some of the teachers were more outstanding than others, even some I was not privileged to have as instructors.

What’s the best thing you learned in high school?
The hardest lesson probably was to always tell the truth and take responsibility for my actions. It still is the hardest lesson I have from day to day. But like Harry S. Truman said, “The buck stops here”.
What did you actually do after you graduated?

I went to Walker College and earned an AS degree, then transferred to Athens College. At various times I have worked construction work, inside sales, warehouse and delivery, labor and millwright at Republic Steel, various positions with Alabama Power Co. which included laborer, helper, Assistant Plant Control Operator, Mechanic-System Maintenance, Mechanic-Plant, Engineering Aide, Systems Specialist and Information Systems Analyst, as Security officer-site supervisor with Security Engineers, and supervisor with IH Services.

Talk about your career during the infancy of the computer age.
I worked for a while at Brown Engineering doing report analysis and coding for a parts reliability information center for the space industry. Later, I worked with Computer Sciences corporation doing data reduction first in environmental and vibration analysis and later static engine testing and flight data reduction. I operated most of the computers at Marshall Space Flight Center at various times. I also did a good bit of utility programming, in several different languages. I assisted in the development of programs used in the zero-g test facility and also the flight paths of several NASA probes to other planets in our solar system.

What are your hobbies?
Computers- I build my own and also do some repair and upgrades for close friends. Gardening is beginning to be a hobby with me. Years ago, gardening was a necessity if you wanted to eat. Internet-I like to see and find out more about this wide, wide world we live in.
What are you passionate about? Living. I only regret that at times I let my job get in the way of going and doing with my family.

Who are your heroes? I guess that would have to be my dad and granddad. They were the kind of men who could be trusted, and who loved to share their knowledge and experiences with those who would take the time to appreciate their lives and life experiences. They taught me that I need to consider the other person’s viewpoint and other alternatives that face me throughout life.

Tell us about your family…. kids, grand kids?
Two children, Wilburn Lee and Pamela Sue. Four grandchildren – Amanda Kay, Carl Lee, Casey and Codey
Where do you currently live?
Dora. about 150 feet from where I grew up. I bought the property where my grandparents lived when I was born.
Have you ever wanted lived anywhere else?
Not really, this is home to me. My maternal lineage goes back through the history of the area and my ancestors were the first ones to permanently settle the area.

What do you plan to do when you grow up?
“Smiles” …but I don’t want to grow up…

Do you have any advice for the young folks that are about to head out into the world today?
1. Life isn’t always fair, but I can always be fair.
2. Always tell the truth, anything less will come back to haunt you.
3. Jealousy and anger are destructive forces which should be avoided. These forces will destroy your life and happiness.
4. Live life as if today is the last of your life. It very well may be.
5. Religion is an important part of your life. Live your beliefs, don’t just pay them lip service or wear them like a badge of honor.

One evening a son was talking to his father about current events. He asked what he thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.

The dad replied, ” Well, let me think a minute….I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, Contact lenses, Frisbees and the was no radar, credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens. Man had not invented pantyhose, dishwashers, clothes dryers (clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air),electric blankets, air conditioners, and he hadn’t walked on the moon.

Your mom and I married first — then lived together.Ever family had a father and mother, and every boy over 14 had a rifle that his dad taught him to use and respect. And they went hunting and fishing together. Until I was 25, I called every man older than I, ‘Sir’ — and after I turned 25, I still called policeman and every man with a title, ‘Sir’. Sundays were set aside for going to church as a family, helping those in need, and visiting with family or neighbors. We were before gay rights, computer dating, dual careers, daycare centers and group therapy. Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense. We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. Serving your country was a privilege; living here was a bigger privilege. We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent. Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins. Draft dodgers were people who closed their front door when the evening breeze started. Time-sharing meant the time the family spent together in the evenings and on weekends — not purchasing a condominium. We never heard of CD’s, electric typewriters, yogurt, guys wearing ear rings, or anyone with any common sense getting a tattoo unless they were drunk or in a freak show.

We listened to Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President’s speeches on the radio. And I don’t ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey. If you saw anything with “Made in Japan” on it, it was junk.
The term ‘making out’ referred to how you did on your school exam. Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and instant coffee were unheard of. We had 5 & 10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents. Ice cream cones, phone calls , rides on a streetcar and Pepsi were all a nickel. And if you didn’t want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards. You could by a new Chevy coupe for $600 but who could afford one? Too bad, because gas was just 11 cents a gallon.

In my day, ‘grass’ was mowed, ‘coke’ was a cold drink, ‘pot’ was something your mother cooked in, and ‘rock music’ was your grandmother’s lullaby. Aids’ were helpers in the Principal’s office, ‘chip’ meant a piece of wood, ‘hardware’ was found in a hardware store, and ‘software’ wasn’t even a word. And we were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby. No wonder people call us “old and confused” and say there is a generation gap…… and I am only 60 years old…


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