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Gainesville's Class of 1963 searches for missing elephant
0412SchoolLife
Cheerleaders stand for a picture in front of the elephant, hanging on the brick, donated by Gainesville High School’s class of 1963 in this image from GHS’ 1967 yearbook. A few years after this photo was taken, the elephant disappeared, and hasn’t been seen since. - photo by For The Times

10-year Gainesville High School reunion
What: A two-day reunion for 1960-1969 graduates of Gainesville High School
When: June 11-12; individual class reunions take place June 11, full reunion for all classes June 12 at the Gainesville Civic Center
More info: Call Anita Baker, 770-531-9451

 

Have you seen the elephant?
If you know the whereabouts of the elephant donated by GHS’ class of 1963, call 770-532-4375 or 678-873-9357.

Somewhere in Hall County, an elephant may be hiding.

Perhaps it’s in a garage, a basement or a backyard shed, long forgotten behind pieces of plywood, old doors and tools.

Members of Gainesville High School’s class of 1963 remember it mounted on the side of the old Gainesville High School building — and they also remember that it disappeared some time before that building was demolished to build the current school.

The hand-cast metal elephant was a gift of the class of ’63, and it stayed proudly mounted on the brick wall through the 1960s. In the process of planning a reunion of all GHS classes from the 1960s, organizers realized the elephant disappeared — and hasn’t been seen since.

So, why not try to get it back, they thought.

Class of 1963 graduate Bill Morrison recalls how he saved the original lettering off the school before it was torn down, and today has a box of metal that reads "Red elephants Class of 1963."

"When they tore the building down, it was in the paper," he said. "And I went over there and asked if I could take the letters off the building, and they said ‘Yeah.’"

But at that point, the elephant was long gone.

It was commissioned by the class for about $1,500, Morrison said, and created by Brenau University professor and sculptor Abe Davidson.

For members of the class of 1963, it was their legacy, said Morrison’s classmate, Counte Cooley, who is also helping to organize the class reunion.

"The 1963 class wanted to leave a legacy, and it was in the form of this monument," he said, adding that the discussion about the elephant came up while the reunion committee planned the June 11 and 12 event.

"As we got together, I just happened to ask the question, ‘Has anyone happened to see find the elephant?’"

The question also came up among members of the Gainesville City School Board, and a resolution recently was passed granting amnesty to anyone who returned the elephant.

Cooley said anyone with information about the elephant can call him at 770-532-4375 or 678-873-9357. Heck, he added, if the person who has the elephant wants to return it anonymously, they can leave it somewhere and tell him where to find it.

If it returns by June, the class can even honor the elephant at its get-together.

"Our long-term hope on this is to return it to the school, and our memorabilia will be on the wall there, hopefully not damaged or stolen," Cooley said. "This has been a heck of an expedition, hunting elephants."

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