Archives for posts with tag: high school

We graduated from high school and started college 51 years ago.  We graduated in the 60s and now we’re in our 60s.  When we get together, we begin finding out what’s going on with our kids, our grandkids, ourselves, passing photos, usually on our phones these days.  That’s the pretty standard ice-breaker, although we really don’t need one.  Yesterday was typical as I went to brunch with five women I knew from high school because one of them was in town for the holiday and this  group showed up when an email was sent to the class.

It’s said that men talk about things or ideas and women talk about people.  Pretty true, really, although I think it’s more about the fact that women get right down to the personal and men may never do that.  At our age, women are nicely outspoken, at least the women I know and want to be with.  By now, we’ve all been through things we never envisioned and our views on what’s right and wrong have been shaped by what we’ve lived as much as by what we were taught.

Our conversation yesterday veered into a story of one of our classmates whose life would make a terrific novel.  Briefly, she was in a major car wreck in high school, suffered brain and other physical injuries, was in love with a boy who stayed by her side even when her parents wanted him gone, secretly married him, was sent to a Catholic school far away when her parents found out and annulled the marriage, he kept visiting her, they both married others but always loved each other.  Cutting through to the end, she still loved him and they were about to get back together just a few years ago and he died.  She made it to the funeral on her walker and was greeted warmly by his second wife.  We don’t know if she’s in assisted living now or not.

That story led us to a discussion of our lives in the early sixties.  Of course, there were some more adventurous than we were, but this was a table of what were then considered “nice” girls.  The girl in the story snuck off to be married because you didn’t have sex before you were married.  We talked of another girl in our class, a close friend of mine, who committed suicide at 15 when she found out she was pregnant.  Besides the sadness of the story, there were those who didn’t know she was pregnant until our brunch.  I didn’t find out until over 45 years later.  We discussed the fact that children, even teenagers, weren’t supposed to hear about “adult” things.  I have a feeling that my parents, and the other parents, knew what happened and didn’t tell us.  Everyone agreed.

The sixties were a time of experimentation later on, but, for those of who who were one of the last graduating classes in an age of somewhat innocence, it was a time when you jumped from the shelter of your home into the reality of the world without much in the way of preparedness.  We had strict curfews in college and had to check out in writing to let the adults know where you would be.  One of my friends even had chaperones at the girls’ college she attended.  When I was in school, boys could live off campus from the moment they arrived, but girls couldn’t live off campus until they were 23, unless they were married.  No wonder people married early!  Between the draft exemption for married men and the restrictions on the girls, many chose to jump into marriage and the “freedom” it offered.  I will note that, while some of those marriages ended in divorce, many are still intact, proving that marriage is a tricky business with no guarantees.  Since most women jumped from being supported by their daddies to marriage, many women, even with college degrees, were thrown into the real world only after divorce or death forced them to cope.  No wonder the Women’s Movement was such a huge part of our lives back in the day.

The women I know, respect and love have mellowed and adapted, not because we don’t believe in the lessons we were taught, but because the realities of life have been laid in our laps.  We don’t give up on our kids and our grandkids when they don’t do things the way we did or the way we wanted them to, we face each new adversity and challenge with strengths we didn’t know we had, and we lean on each other to understand.  No matter how close you are to your children, no matter how many older and younger friends and relatives you have, there is nothing like your peers, those who started with you and have traveled the same decades.  We understand things about each other that others don’t quite get because we’ve been there together, have the same context for facing the world.

The other wonderful thing about friends is that you don’t always have to be together in person because you can pick up right where you left off when the conversation is opened.

The best part is discovering how friends have grown and changed through the years and being able to laugh at it all together.  We’re grateful for every memory, every lesson learned, and every day we have left.  Personally, I love the twinkle in the eyes of my friends as we oh so quickly approach our seventies.  Watch out world – we’re still comin’ at you!photo


My oldest grandchild turns 17 today.  Already?  It was just the other day that I was 17, wasn’t it?  About 51 years ago to tell the truth.  It doesn’t seem that long. . . except for everything that has happened since then.

Part of me is still 17 as I remember it.  I was well into my senior year in high school on my 17th birthday.  I still had braces on my teeth.  I had fallen in love with the boy who would be the older boy I married a few years later.  I was trying to figure out college and keep my grades up and was active in school activities and I played a lot.  At 17, we were the leaders of the school, the promise of the future.  Until we got to college and had to start over again.

When I was 17,  I worked a little, mainly tutoring, but most of my friends didn’t have jobs.  We studied and played.  We were the lucky ones.  We never knew what really went on in some of our classmates’  homes until many years later.  It was a time when people kept family secrets, when horrible things weren’t mentioned.  Life wasn’t as innocent as we were led to believe.

Seventeen was the end of my sheltered years, when I left home for the first time for college.  It was the end of the innocence for our country when our President was assassinated and we watched it all on television, over and over, although it wasn’t the 24 hr news cycle we have today.

When I was 17, we still used rotary dial phones and had to call the operator to make a long distance call.  We wrote letters to tell our grandmothers what was going on in our lives because long distance calls were special.  No direct dial long distance yet.  Technology was having a long cord on your phone so you could take it into a closet for privacy.  We walked a lot because not everyone had a car.  We went to the library for information because there were no computers.

Seventeen was a year of introspection for me.  I read a lot, a lot of heavy thoughts.  I was in the throes of being a new intellectual.  Mixed with being a fun-loving teenager.  How does that work – being an intellectual teenager?  Really?  And, I’m sure my parents didn’t understand me at all, because what parents ever do?

Mostly, seventeen was fun.  When I watch the movie “American Graffiti,” I see my senior year.  Move the scene from Los Angeles to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and you have my high school years, accurate to the dress, the music, the dances, the kids.   All the fun and angst and watching the world from a new perspective as you move from adolescence into pre-adulthood.  Some friends were getting there faster, getting married, getting jobs, having babies.  It was a time of change.

I’m lucky to have had a life that I can remember with such affection.  Very lucky.  I can see that now, looking back all those years.

My advice for my grandkids as they turn 17 is simple.  Enjoy, take it all in.  Learn from what you see and take it all with you on this exciting journey of life.

When I was 17. . . it was a very good year.

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There is nothing like live football to energize you in the fall. Televised is fine, a good thing, but you can’t beat seeing it live.

I’ve been to high school games since my grandson started playing. Friday night lights and all. He plays for my old high school, but it wouldn’t matter. The youthful enthusiasm, the fans, the band, the cheerleaders and pom squads all make it a fun event. Some schools are more like little colleges with their recruiting and digital screens and commitment to winning at any cost, but most are just like you remember. You watch the kids milling around the stands, the parents cheering for their kids, and sing the fight songs in the cool air. Victory is sweet and defeat stings. Just like life.


Yesterday, I went to a game at my college alma mater, Oklahoma State University. There’s nothing like college football in America. . .anywhere! Television hasn’t spoiled it, but it doesn’t show the energy that surrounds a game. There’s the tailgating, a new multi-million dollar industry from what I can see. The sophistication is amazing. There was a set up with an attached bar with barstools made of saddles under a rusted corrugated steel roof that was the tops for me. Too cool. There are big screen TVs in tents set up for the day with huge grills toted in behind pickups, custom made for game day. The logistics of it all are amazing, but the total devotion to tailgating is a thing of wonder.

There is energy all over a college campus on game day. I think it’s because you can’t help but catch some of the scent of youth in the air, whether it’s from remembering your own college days or from watching the kids who walk where you walk. It’s unique and invigorating. What a college recruitment tool. Taking kids to the game where you are having so much fun at your alma mater has to rub off a little of your love of the school on them. Or not. We all know kids will do what they want to do, we just hope they love what we love a little bit.

Inside a stadium during a college game, you are treated to all the university’s traditions throughout the day. The colors, the band, the fight songs and cheers, the music, the cheerleaders, pom squad, mascot, alums and students all add up to an atmosphere of love and loyalty. Sure, there are more breaks while the networks air their commercials, but the fans are treated to performances on the field. The cheers and moans are not felt through the TV screen, the half-time activities are cut for commercials and long analysis from wordy commentators who have to fill air time. It’s a whole different experience being there.

In this modern football setting, you get replays at the game and updates from other games and people check their phones to see what else is going on in the world, the real world and the football world. You aren’t in your easy chair at home with the ready snacks and ability to switch from game to game. Even if you’re watching with friends, there is still something missing that you can only get live.

We fortunate ones live in a world of ease of getting our entertainment when and where we want it. It’s great and all that. But there’s nothing like going to a live football game. There’s nothing like approaching the stadium and the campus and having memories sweep over you or just feeling the excitement. There’s nothing like it. So American in all the best ways. We do know how to have fun, don’t we?


Going through old pictures is a weakness of mine. When I was growing up, my grandparents kept theirs in the top drawer of a dresser in the spare bedroom. Both of my grandmothers did this, so I would rummage through those pictures, studying my parents and grandparents at younger ages. My mother wasn’t such a picture person, but I took it upon myself to keep track of our photos. When my grandparents and parents died, I ended up with a lot of the pictures. I get immersed in them sometimes and go on scanning binges so I can share them with relatives and friends. It’s an obsession, an addiction. Probably not a bad one, but I have to pull myself out of it into real life.

A reunion brings it all back again. I don’t have too many pictures from high school & college. Enough, but not to compare with the thousands I have today in our digital age. After our 50th reunion, friends began rummaging through attics, scrapbooks, drawers and coming up with some I’d never seen. The pictures flood you with images that you had forgotten in the everyday rush of our lives. You stop for a minute and go back in time, in wonder at the person, the child, you were back then when you thought you knew so much and had the whole world out there to conquer.


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Well, we all know more now. We’ve been out in that world and we’re glad to have survived. Our stories are varied, our lives tangled with children, grandchildren, spouses and parents, all in various throes of needing us. We know that we still haven’t seen it all, because what is life but one surprise after another, but we’re still living it and learning from it.

But, oh my. That girl child I was…I hope there’s still a lot of her left in me.

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I went to dinner with one of my grandsons this week. He just got his driver’s license and he drove…another day, another blog. Great kid, about 6’3″ and growing, and loved hearing my stories about the reunion while he told me about his recent mission trip at church and his basketball and soccer and his new job. He’ll have his own photos of high school to look through on the computer probably, until the next new invention. He said he couldn’t wait for his reunion. Isn’t that interesting? I never even thought about a reunion back then.

We’re all out there making more memories all the time. And going back through the photos of our lives…

In the aftermath of a fun 50th high school reunion weekend, there are lessons to be learned and shared for those who love reunions, those dread them, those who never go to them. The 50th is a unique milestone, one that always seemed, to me at least, an event way off in the distance. Now it’s behind us and I think we all were surprised and warmed by the reality of it. Here are my top 10 thoughts:

One. There is a little sharing of what’s going on with the kids, sharing pictures of the grandkids, but it’s not the main thing people talked about. In fact, it was the least thing talked about. Sorry kids. We are much more interesting people as ourselves than you think. Our peers know this.

Two. There were people who attended that I was afraid would feel alone in the crowd, didn’t know if their friends were attending because I didn’t know them that well in high school. I never saw anyone who stayed alone. Maybe it’s because we all look so different now, but classmates introduced themselves to everyone. They were genuinely interested in meeting them and hearing their stories.

Three. The conversations were on a deeper level. In bars and restaurants after the events, at breakfast, lunch, casual conversations, people were discussing the important things in life. Nothing was judgmental, just sharing stories and understanding what life throws at you. Everyone has a story, an interesting one.

Four. There was no division of groups, cliques. Sure, people sat with their closest friends when they could, but people rarely sat still. Everyone was looking for someone they wanted to see or meet. Everybody was interested in the stories of their classmates.

Five. Nobody cared how you looked then or now. Of course it was sometimes amusing or sad or surprising to see how different or how much the same some were, but everybody understands that it’s a combination of life style, genetics and pure luck that we are here at all. There were a lot of classmates with minor to major disabilities, but that was part of their story. We were celebrating that we’re still standing, we’re still here.

Six. You never know what life is going to bring. At the 50th, many were retiring and diving into new interests or careers. We had lots of authors, photographers, travelers in this new stage. People were moving after lifetimes in one place, leaving their homes and friends, to start new adventures closer to their children and grandchildren or just moving to new places. It’s an ever changing time of life being 67-68 years old.

Seven. People commented that they made new friends. Not because they didn’t like the other in high school, but because they didn’t know them then. They met and found common interests and a common past.

Eight. There are a lot of things buried in our memories that just need a trigger to recover. Our 92 year old Latin teacher came from 4 hours away to inspire us once again. She called all her former students to the front with her and then told us to sing. After 50 or more years, the words, most of them, to Gaudeamus Igitur came from our mouths like we sang them yesterday. Who knew that was in there? In fact, I looked it up today and am really touched by what the song says.

Gaudeamus igitur
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.

The translation is:
Let us rejoice, therefore,
While we are young.
After a pleasant youth
After a troubling old age
The earth will have us.

What a wise teacher and what a gift to us to sing something we learned in our youth that means so much more today.

Also, when the band played the songs of our youth, we knew all the words and our bodies moved the same to the music. Talk about muscle memory! We can still party like it’s 1963. Maybe not as long, but the spirit of our teen years lives on.

Nine. Hugs are universally healing. A weekend of hugs and kisses from those who shared your youth does wonders for your health and attitude. There were lots and lots of hugs.

Ten. A classmate wrote afterwards that he realized how much we all need “love, belonging and connection.” That was what it was all about in the end.

The nicest thing is that we are so connected in this place in time when there is no excuse to lose the glow of the weekend. Our class has a website, a Facebook page, and addresses. There were more people adding contacts to their phones, sharing pictures, writing down information than ever before. Those connections mean even more now because we understand that our time is precious and we want to enrich it with the best people we have encountered in our lives.

If you never attend a reunion, I’m sorry. They only get better with time…

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It’s all about the reunion this week. I wrote about the fun and history of my reunions, but I feel obligated to add a short piece dedicated to another group – the spouses. I was lucky that my husband and I graduated the same year in the same city from different high schools with mutual friends at each school. We went to two reunions and had fun at each. Some of my classmates are married to other classmates or their spouses are from here, maybe a few years older or younger, but knowing the places and the faces.

Imagine what it’s like to have to go to a reunion with your spouse or a date when you know nobody and aren’t likely to see them for another ten years? At first, it’s fun to see and meet the people you’ve heard about and sometimes you make friends with other spouses, but, mostly, you must feel like a tag-a-long. Unless you’re the trophy wife or husband or date brought to impress your classmates. Wonder what that’s like?

Many people will never attend a reunion of their own, much less their spouse’s. My father never went to his reunions and my mother only went to one – her 40th! She said it was one of the best things she ever did. She had no idea how much she had been loved and missed and kept up with some of those friends the rest of her life.
Some people hated high school.

Some people had terrible home lives in high school. In my day, we talked about nothing. Everything was kept private between the adults, so we didn’t know if our friends were beaten, their parents were cheating or were alcoholics or had financial problems. We might have suspected, but it just wasn’t talked about. Very few got divorced. We know now that all those things were happening. We shake our heads and wish we had known so we could have helped our friends. Nobody knows what really goes on in most homes, good or bad. Just thoughts running through my head…

The spouses. I had a friend who had been a couple with her husband since 6th grade, childhood sweethearts. She helped him through dental school, they raised two children, all was good. Their 30th reunion came along and he started emailing the girl who had been his girlfriend in 5th grade. Really. She told him she had been married a couple of times, but always wanted him. Both couples divorced and they married. They’re getting divorced now, about 15 years later, and he has a younger girlfriend…big surprise. Some spouses come to the reunion just to protect their marriage, afraid of such a scenario in their own lives. Who knows? People will do crazy things. It’s hard to fight the draw of common memories, long lost loves. I’m trying to remember anyone in our class “hooking up,” as they say today. Maybe. I think we would have heard rumors over the years, but none comes to mind. In a large class, it’s hard to believe.

There’s the other group who come without spouses because they have lost theirs. As one of this group, I can truthfully say that it’s a tough thing to go back alone. There are some who attend hoping to meet someone, but most are taking a brave, lonely step into this weekend. I know several in this group…I’m watching out for them. It’s hard if you loved to dance and lost your partner. It’s hard if you were the quiet one. The weekend is a reminder of sweeter times. Reunions might be too much or they might be very healing. Everything is personal in life.


Reunions are a weekend of going back in time and relating it to our present. Maybe the reality of the reunion doesn’t match what you thought it would be. Maybe you told your spouse one thing about your high school years and he or she thinks it seems a lot different than you described. Some people come to one reunion, some to all. Some say they don’t need a reunion…they keep in contact with the people they want to already. Some are disappointed, most are surprised at how much fun they have.

I’ve noticed that more classmates are coming to our 50th reunion alone. Their spouses have done their part, don’t want to sit through another weekend of watching their husband or wife reminiscing about things they weren’t a part of, would like the time alone. It’s not a bad thing. It’s an honest choice. It will be fun for them to listen to the stories after the fact…maybe, hopefully.

I salute all the spouses who didn’t grow up with their husband or wife or partner, but are sharing them with the class. We love it when they come and hope they have a fabulous time, but we understand when they don’t. Life is too short to spend time doing something you don’t want to do. Life is too short to deny your spouse the chance to do something he or she would love. If you come, enjoy watching your loved one going back in time. If you don’t come, we’ll send them back to you worn out, with a smile, lots of hugs and memories. You have a great weekend on your own. Enjoy your personal time. Cheers!

I graduated from high school 50 years ago. 50 YEARS AGO!!! That’s hard to say, hard to imagine. Really? Where did all that time go? How did it pass so quickly? I was in a great class, a class of about 650 that produced 26 National Merit semi-finalists, had excellent teachers and a whole lot of fun. This week is our reunion, which makes me think about all of our reunions…I’ve been on every committee.

The 10th reunion was in 1973. The committee had to have calling sessions to find everyone, using our high school directory to call parents’ homes, phone directories, information. We sent out newsletters, printed with a fun logo drawn by one of our artist classmates, using the name of the student paper when we were in school. We worked hard to find everyone we could. The excuses for not coming that year were mostly due to lack of funds or having babies, we were in our childbearing years. Actaully, I had just had my third child a few months before – there were many of us with new babies on the committee. We ended up with about 200 attending, including spouses. We had lost some classmates and found out that some of the people we knew really hated high school and never wanted to remember anything. Many came home to see family while they were at the reunion.


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Friday night was the night where you broke the ice, greeted everyone, met their spouses, and caught up on what was going on in their lives. We rocked out to records at the studio where we first took dance lessons. We still knew all the moves.


We had an Assembly at the school on Saturday. Some of our former teachers attended and we pretty much did a traditional assembly, as I feebly recall.

Saturday night, we dressed to impress and went to the fanciest country club in town. Hairstyles ranged from shags to intricate, high updos. The men had longer hair than when we graduated and mustaches were in. The clothes were loud, the times were fast. We gave awards for who had been married the longest, which went to a classmate who married while we were still in school, most children, most unusual profession (jockey), who traveled the farthest to get there, and best preserved male and female bodies (last time we ever gave that award). We were pretty groovy, dancing to a popular local band, dressed in the latest styles.


We published a directory after the reunion with all the updated addresses and phone numbers we had found so people could stay in touch.

By our twentieth reunion, we were kind of in a groove. We went through the same steps to find everyone, using printed labels for our mailings. The committee worked long hours, finding we had lost more classmates and couldn’t find others who had moved in the past decade. We were still using our old class directory and the phone to locate everyone. We’d lost more people along the way. The excuses for not coming were jobs, money, small children. We still got about 200 to show up.

The schedule for the 20th was about the same. We were noticing that the girls were becoming women and the guys looked like they were starting to lose their looks, or so we whispered. There were a few new spouses, divorce already beginning to take its toll. The list of deceased was growing. We had an elaborate slide show at our assembly, set to the song “Memories.” Teachers still came to the events and we realized they weren’t as old as they had seemed in high school. We were getting older, heading for middle age. There were those who timidly showed up on Friday, wondering how they’d be received, wondering if they’d know anyone, and left on Saturday feeling part of the group. We started to care less about what had happened in high school, the cliques were beginning to loosen.


We had a directory and a t-shirt to remember. This time the directory was copies of forms people had sent in with bios and pictures. We were a little more sophisticated these days. Our design was created by one of our classmates who was always an artist, now a professional one.

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By 1993, we were ready for our 30th reunion. We had lost the heart of the reunions, our inspiring leader, and others stepped up to fill his place. The committee meetings were still the most fun, catching up with each other, helping to make the calls to locate classmates. We could still find some through the old class directory, some through calling their friends. We’d lost more in the decade, our list was growing smaller. The excuses for not coming as we approached our 40s were money, children now graduating from school or in school activities, jobs. There were still about 200 there, not even the same 200. We went through the casual evening, the class assembly, the dressy dinner dance. Now people showed up on Friday hoping they’d recognize our rapidly changing faces. We had picture nametags that year. You could see how we looked in high school and look up to see how we looked right then. The women still seemed to be getting better. The men were balding, going gray, more mature, still cute!


It was fun to see if those class prophecies had come true in any way. Our beauty queens were still beautiful, our jocks were still looking pretty fit, the smartest ones were still smart. But, not everything stays the same, thank goodness. Some of those who had lived too hard were beginning to show it. The guy who got the award at our 10th reunion for cutting the most days of classes our senior year was now president of a bank. One of the smart ones who went to Rice and got an engineering degree had married, divorced, quit big business and gone to Colorado. He was Mayor of Winter Park & loving the mountain life. Never would have dreamed it, but he was happier than ever. And we’d lost more of our favorite classmates along the way. Two of our classmates met for the first time at the reunion and married a year later.

We did another t-shirt and directory, much like the last one. We were beginning to celebrate each other as much as the memories. We were an interesting bunch.

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By the time the 40th reunion rolled around, we were different, the world was much different in 2003 than in 1963, 1973, 1983, 1993. We’d been through Viet Nam, The Beatles, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the changing of the century, and 9/11. We’d battled divorce, moves, heart attacks, cancer, raising children and becoming grandparents. Some of us were caring for our parents. In fact, the excuses for not coming this time were the most varied yet. There were those with young children because they’d started late or were on a second or more marriage. There were college graduations, jobs, kids, illnesses and parents. We had classmates with AIDS. We were in the Sandwich era of our lives, between our children and our parents. Would there ever be a time that was just about us? We still managed to get about 200 to attend.

Technology was changing faster than we could have imagined and we had the internet. We purchased a website and got it up and running. This would be our last time to do the hours of phone calling. Once we got the information on the site, classmates could keep updating it as we went along, adding bios and pictures, doing the work for us. We didn’t have to do a directory and we didn’t do t-shirts. We were moving with the times.

We hadn’t cut away from the tradition of the casual night, the assembly and the dressy night yet. People still came Friday night, worrying if they would recognize or remember anyone. The pictures were on the name tags again. The Assembly was replaced by a tour of the old school, walks down the halls where some of our classmates could still find their pictures celebrating their athletic achievements. People toured the city to see the changes. We had golf for those who wanted it.

On Saturday night, we were still rocking to the band. The songs were the same, oldies now. Classic oldies…just like us. We made new friends with old classmates we hadn’t known then. Two more classmates married after the reunion. We were valuing these people who had shared our youth with us, who they had been and who they had become.

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This time, we produced a DVD that incorporated all the slides and photos from the past with current interviews. We were changing with the times and shaking our heads at the things that had gone by the wayside.

We had so much fun at the 40th and realized how many people we were losing at a faster rate that we decided to have a mini-reunion – a 45th. We did one casual night, thinking it would be mostly for classmates who lived close by. The band was guys our age, playing our music. Amazingly, 75-80 came from all over the country. It was easy and fun. We were still rocking, still here and breathing! Some could still jump, we looked older and wiser.


The 50th! Good grief! We have lost so many people over the years, close to 100 that we know about, probably more. The 50th is here. We used the website, mail and email to contact people. We’ve added a Facebook page. This reunion is about celebrating us, celebrating that we are still here. We’ll have 175-200 for this one, some who have never been before. We’ll have larger type on the name tags, but no pictures. Everyone wonders if they’ll recognize anyone or remember anyone. We have two teachers who can come…one is 92 and will speak to our group. The other is not that much older than we are – we were her first pupils out of school.

The excuses this time are children and grandchildren, surgeries, illnesses, money, busy retirement schedules, work schedules and even Japanese Parliament not getting out in time. A former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia is coming in from Dubai. The President of our Student Council and our class Vice-President both have Alzheimer’s. One classmate just had back surgery, several with knee and hip surgeries. Some are hobbling to the reunion however they can. Our will is strong, our bodies starting to need replacement parts. We are distinguished, fun-loving, casual, full of life and representing everything that happens to us in a lifetime.

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This time there is nothing to impress anyone. We’re going to be in the heart of all the happening things in Tulsa right now, right in the middle of the Arts District. We’ll meet early at a bar with a patio and then everyone can do the Art Walk, watch fireworks from the baseball stadium, get a fancy meal, enjoy their special group of friends, or tuck in early. Anyway you want it. Saturday night we meet at historic Cain’s Ballroom for barbecue, wearing comfortable shoes and casual clothes. We have t-shirts again and the band is back from the 45th, classmates of ours, to bring back the oldies. Everyone is excited to see whoever comes. We laugh that we’ll have a whole new group of friends by the end of the weekend. Our Facebook page has 70 members now and is lighting up with excitement and memories. We’ll be there with our cell phones and iPads, today’s brag books of pictures of our beloved children and grandchildren. We’ll share experiences, travel stories, memories. We’ll have our cameras! Our aging Eagles are flying in to celebrate!


I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, Rock On Class of 1963!


Here’s how I got to this topic today…

I saw a movie about Joan of Arc, the one starring Ingrid Bergman as a 3o something year old playing a 16 year old, although she did a great job with what she had.  I’ve always loved the story of Joan of Arc and find her story absolutely fascinating.  Late last year, I had seen an old movie of Joan of Arc, I think it was silent, that had been on a list of top ten movies or female performances or something of all time.  It was based on the actual transcripts of Joan of Arc’s trial and was just brutal.  The poor actress never acted again.

Anyway, that took my confetti brain to a paper I wrote in college when I was taking a semester of Mark Twain in graduate school.  My thesis for that class was on Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, not one of his more well known books, but one he called his favorite.  The book was highly criticized when it was published, probably because it was so different from his other works, especially the ones where he viewed religions so irreverently.  It was called too sentimental and not historically correct.  I took the stand, with all my 21 years of experience, that Twain based the work on more historic truth than they thought.  He probably did base his own image of Joan on his beloved daughter, Susie.

Those thoughts morphed into memories of those term papers that I always seemed to be writing.  As an English major, it was part of the deal.  While I was taking the Twain class, I was also teaching Freshman Composition as a graduate assistant, having to teach how to write those papers.  In those golden old days, a research paper was a tedious thing, unless you really liked researching, which I did.  It required many visits to the library, a grand place to go at Oklahoma State University.  There you plowed through the card catalogue by hand, looking for anything remotely connected to your topic.  Then you had to find this book or article and either check it out or sit in the library and read it.  I think I made notes on little note cards for some reason.  Maybe I organized them into something…who knows.

After you digested all of this information, you took all the notes and started writing a rough draft…by hand.  I learned to write papers in junior high and high school, using the rules in this little blue book, which I can’t believe I still have.  I may need it some day and it does have really good information on just writing in general.


Either in high school or college, I also used this book, good old Strunk & White.  While writing this, I looked it up and found that it was considered antiquated just a few years ago.  If you know nothing about writing, it still gives you some good lessons.


After you had your final draft finished, and you may have had to write several, you were faced with some of the low tech of the time.  Papers had to be turned in typed, sometimes with more than one copy.  We didn’t have copiers then, so we used carbon paper.  I knew people who had to have several copies of each paper.  Oh yeah, there could be no errors.  Sometimes, the professor would let you get by with one or two.  Picture sitting down at your typewriter, which was an electric one by the time I got to college.  I learned to type on a manual.  Electric typewriters were all we had until word processors came into being by the time some of my kids were in college.  At least they had copiers.

Anyway, you sat down to type your paper, which had to have footnotes and a bibliography, knowing you couldn’t have any mistakes.  There was also the time factor because few college students got to this point until the night before the paper was due…no matter how long you had worked on it.  You had to stop and roll the paper down part way to insert the footnote number, hoping you would get the paper back in the same spot.  And you had to plan when to stop the page so that you could have room for the footnotes.  It was a delicately balanced process.

Then came the dreaded mistake.  You had to peel back each copy and correct each one with a typewriter eraser and something to scrape off the carbon word.  Later we got Liquid Paper, although teachers didn’t like that so much.  Even later was correcting paper or tape.  Imagine a 20 page paper with this process.  I’m cringing now…and I was an excellent typist.

OK.  You finished the final page and rolled it out of the typewriter.  Then you had to proofread the paper.  Oh no!  You find an error and you have to start all over.  I was a student counselor in the dorm as an undergraduate and saw some real drama with term papers.  When I was teaching….well, I saw some real interesting final products.  And you might have more than one paper due at the same time.  Super drama!

So, I have gone from Joan of Arc to this tale of research papers.  I’m so grateful for what that old process taught me.  There was a real sense of accomplishment when you had a good idea and found information to prove it.  There was a discipline to it all.   I don’t know how they teach this process today or why it’s nearly as hard with computers, but I’m sure it is.  Students are students and they probably still write their papers the night before.

This is one of those times I’m just glad I can look back on all of it and don’t have assignments due or grades to worry about.  Life is worrisome enough after college.  In fact, those worries don’t seem so big now.  Happy Spring Term to all those students out there.  You’ll end up ok, even if you procrastinate.  Smile.

Yesterday was an interesting juxtaposition of years of my life.  I was working on my 50th high school reunion in the morning and received emails out of the blue from the guy who was our senior class president and another who was Mr. Edison that year.  It’s Edison Week, the week Thomas A. Edison High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma celebrates the namesake’s birthday with a week of celebrations, culminating today in the awarding of the next Mr. and Miss Edison, along with class superlatives.

Yesterday afternoon, I was at Edison for several hours to watch one of my grandsons in guy cheerleading, a fun tradition of Edison Week.  I hadn’t thought about any of this until last night while I was watching videos of the day with him.  When I go in the doors of Edison, I immediately feel at home.  The halls look smaller, but I can go back and picture the kids, in their various cliques, grouped around the front hall, waiting for the bell to ring, as they were back in my day.  The outside has some changes structurally and there aren’t motorcycles out front as much as cars, which is a change.  We didn’t have too many kids with cars back in my day.  The girls aren’t wearing hoop skirts either!


We didn’t have drugs, but we had the smoke hole.  We had more dances and they may have been more fun since kids don’t really date or dance the way we did.  There were downsides to that, too, for those who didn’t have dates.  Today’s kids are more group oriented when they go out, but that can be a good thing.  How can they possibly afford to take someone to a movie or out to dinner?  Nobody goes on Coke dates anymore.  There are dance classes, but few take them.  They can learn the latest from YouTube.


But, when I started really looking back, there are so many things that are basically the same.  We decorated the halls of the school…


…just as they do today.  This picture is a great illustration of the teenage boy’s brain as he improvises a way to hang a banner by balancing on a 2 inch brick when standing on a chair on a table didn’t work.  There were ladders close by, by the way.


The school has fewer students today, but they have more cheerleaders.  Here are the cheerleaders in 1963…


Today, they do intricate routines, way beyond 2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate.  The gymnastics are incredible.


Face it.  The kids are much more fit than we were, especially the girls.  It’s a different kind of training, different kind of body toning than we knew.  Even our biggest, strongest athletes couldn’t match the bodies I saw yesterday.  Or the jumps, leaps and throws.  I’m not sure that girls today could even relate to the quaint, which is a kind word for those hideous outfits we purchased at Sears and had our names monogrammed on, gym suits we wore.  Jumping jacks and sit ups were pretty much our exercises, although we did get to do some modern dancing, play a few basketball and softball games, and swim.  Swimming was awful because we didn’t have blow dryers and you had to walk around all day with your hair in a scarf.  I guess you could wear rollers to class – ha!


Edison Week really hasn’t changed much.  We had a gridiron show and I found pictures of our version of guy cheerleaders, 50 years ago.  These were the football players and the other jocks.  The guys have gotten more creative through the years with intricate routines that are SO teen age boy in their enthusiasm and silliness.  I have film of my son’s guy cheerleading group.



Here is my grandson’s sophomore class guy cheerleading group…


One of my sons-in-law was Mr. Edison, way back in 1990.  It’s a shock to my kids that Nostalgia Day this year was a look back at the 90s, with the kids wearing the styles of that era.  My kids are cringing and I’m smiling and trying to remember what they wore.  What the heck did I wear way back then, by the way?  It’s so far back…  Yesterday was Luau Day with all the school dressed for the islands.  We had some Hawaiian skits and my kids had luaus, too.  It’s always a good party theme.

One of the nice things about living where you grew up is seeing the continuity of life and viewing the changes through different generations.  My parents were from other places, so I felt no connection with where they went to school.  My kids and grandkids are walking the same halls in high school that their father (for part of junior high) and I did.  Yesterday, I got to share in their youth and it was refreshing to be surrounded by all that energy and excitement.  I loved the cheers and screams and laughter…mostly, I loved that I got to breathe in some of that rarified air that goes with all that can be good with teenagers.

I watched with pride as the kids said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.  That hasn’t changed.


Mostly, I guess that what I wish for the next generation is that they continue the traditions, making them their own.  I do wish they had sung “Hail, Hail to Edison” for me.  Just for old times sake…but, yesterday wasn’t about me…it was about them.  My past and our future!