On the first Tuesday of every month, one room in Howard’s Restaurant on Concord Road in Smyrna is transformed into a paradise of nostalgia and memories for a group of Campbell High School alumni.
’Da Boys of Campbell High School is a group of roughly 60 men who graduated from Campbell High School in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The group meets monthly at Howard’s to reminisce, form new friendships with other generations that were raised in south Cobb County and catch up with one another.
“We talk about things we did in school; we reminisce,” said Mark Reed, 66.
The group was formed inadvertently after a fellow classmate passed away in 2003. Three Campbell High School alumni met for lunch at Howard’s Restaurant after their friend’s funeral, said group chairman Kippy Mason.
“That’s one of the things we discovered when we went to Brown Logan’s funeral. We had not seen each other in 50 years and those few who were at the funeral sat there and talked and had more fun, and that’s why we said this is a pretty neat thing,” said Mason, 74.
The three men who met at Howard’s after the funeral decided to establish a monthly meeting at 11:30 a.m. on every first Tuesday of the month. ’Da Boys did not establish an RSVP system or send out invitations.
They agreed on the date and time for the meetings and decided there would always be a meeting no matter what the circumstances and whoever could come was welcome to stop by, according to the group’s website, daboys.org.
After a few months, the meetings grew from three men to its current attendance of about 60. Although the group averages about 60 attendees per month, its roster includes about 200 men, Mason said.
’Da Boys presence became so strong that Howard’s Restaurant dedicated a room to the group, calling it the Campbell Room.
“It’s a room in the restaurant, but every first Tuesday of every month, it’s ours,” Mason said.
Walking into the Campbell Room is like stepping into a high school yearbook. Old photos of athletes and members of the group hang on the walls alongside framed old yellow and green football and basketball jerseys. One wall in the Campbell Room is decorated with photos of members of ‘Da Boys who have passed away in recent years.
“I get chills when I walk in this room,” Mason said. “The hairs on my arms stand up when I think about all of the people we know who’ve passed, and now we do this. It’s for the friendship and memories.”
Mason and Reed agreed that ’Da Boys provided a sense of comfort and acted as a support group when members pass away. Reed regarded the fellowship as invaluable when faced with the death or illness of loved ones.
“Over the last few years, we have had an opportunity to see some guys who were in their final stages of disease. They were literally dying,” Reed said. “We got to see them - we got to love on them, hug on them in the last month of their lives and they were here with us and you can’t put a price on that.”
’Da Boys have also started a memorial brick-laying campaign for their friends who’ve died in recent years, laying one brick in their honor at a local church.
“Their families love that, too, because there’s all these guys that knew their loved one who’s gone and it’s pretty special to them,” Reed said. “It’s after a funeral and all of a sudden they come and they find that people hadn’t forgotten their loved one. Their loved one is being honored.”
Mason said he hopes younger generations of fellow Campbell High School alumni continue to participate with ’Da Boys and carry on their legacy of friendship and reconnection.
’Da Boys will celebrate 10 years of reconnection and fellowship on July 20 at 7 p.m. at the American Legion in Smyrna near Concord Road with an anniversary celebration catered by The Varsity.