For a few hours Saturday, a spring gathering under old oak trees turned a group of friends into Chiefs again.

Alumni of the old West Orange High School held a picnic to share memories and friendships.

The school’s colors were purple and white and the mascot was an Indian Chief.

This year, Mike and Sheila Trahan provided the meeting place at their home, Serenity Oaks. Large, old oak trees provided a shady place for meeting, greeting and visiting. It is a place where cool breezes blow, in the heart of West Orange, not too far from the old school.

Mike Bernard, Class of 1959, started organizing a reunion for his class. Class members were meeting at varying times and decided that they would like to do something more organized and reach more of their classmates. Bernard started using the phone book and then the Internet. He has built a database of his classmates.

He has been planning reunions for the past eight years. The group decided that every five years, they will have a big reunion with a breakfast, an afternoon gathering and a dance. The in-between years are informal picnics, with other classes from West Orange invited.

The picnics had been held at the Firestone Employees Recreation Clubhouse until Hurricane Rita damaged the clubhouse. That is when the Trahans offered their home as a site for the picnics.

“The picnics help to keep the people together,” Bernard said “It is a good time to relax and meet and talk.”

This past Saturday, about 50 old Chiefs gathered to visit. The classes ranged from 1959 to 1967, with the Class of 1961 having the most people.

The dress is informal. Carl Thibodeaux, Class of 1962, looked like a golf pro. David Heard, Class of 1961 showed his knees and Lynn Wallace, Class of 1959 looked like the cowboy he has always been.

Wallace was the operator for many years of the Tin Top Rodeo Arena.
Some of the old Chiefs have remained in the area and some have moved away, but all were glad to see old friends.

Jimmy Guidry, Class of 1967 had on a one-of-a kind white tee shirt with a purple “West Orange Chiefs” printed around a purple Chief in headdress outline.

Janice Young, Class of 1963, came from Henderson, Texas, for a visit and was glad to see the few of her classmates that were there.

Judy Corder Guidry and Thibodeaux were the two representatives of the Class of 1962 in attendance.

The picnics follow the informal BYOS format, that is Bring Your Own Stuff. Attendees bring whatever they choose to eat and drink. It is a good idea to bring a lawn chair or two. The aim is to have a good time and relax and visit with old friends.

West Orange High had its first graduating class at West Orange in 1958 and the last in 1976. If you are a Chief and still bleed purple and white, and would like to know more about the annual picnics, contact Mike Bernard by email:
Bernard maintains a mailing list and will be happy to add you to it to keep you abreast of happenings.

You may also contact Mike Louviere, Class of 1963, by phone at 409-792-9971.
December 20, at the American Legion Hall in Orange, there will be another “Chiefs Dance.” It is a great time to party with the old gang and have a good time. There will be flyers posted as the time nears.