|Hiram High School 1940|
Last evening I attended the 50th reunion of the Hiram High School Class of 1962. We were not a large class, really--only about forty of us, though that was large by Hiram standards. My older brother's Class of 1959 had only fourteen. But our class doubled in ninth grade when some students from nearby Streetsboro, Ohio (which had no high school at the time), joined us for four years.
We didn't know it in 1962, but only two more classes would follow us at HHS. The community voted to consolidate with the nearby Crestwood Schools, so the Class of 1964 ended our little local school's history.
In the ensuing years, the building gradually came down--razed in sections. Yesterday afternoon, a former classmate and I drove to the site and saw only an empty lot--high grass, no sign that anything had ever been there, that anything had ever happened there. Another example of a community's historical Alzheimer's.
Because, of course, so much happened there. Lives changed in that building. Basketball games in the gym; plays on the stage; music; literature; art; science; math; foreign languages. Minds and hearts awoke.
Some great teachers walked the halls (some dreadful ones, too). Lifelong friendships formed. A few marriages. Last night, in fact, Joe and Donna were there at the reunion; they'd started dating in the building that's gone. They've been married ever since.
Only about half of us were at the reunion. Seven of us have died, including one of my best friends, Paul, with whom I simply lost touch over the years. But when news of his death came, I was sixteen again, and I grieved as if I'd just seen him that afternoon at basketball practice.
Most of my classmates I've not seen in fifty years. But some I knew instantly. Others I did not recognize until I saw a smile, or heard a laugh. And then time fell away like a cloth covering a statue.
Later, I realized I'd spent more time talking with some classmates than I had in the entire four years we were in the same building. I was dumb in high school. I had a very limited understanding of the variability and wonder of humanity. I sampled tentatively, cautiously from the stream of friendship. It was my loss ...
Time can be cruel. It strips from us our youth, our strength, our health, even, at times, our hope. But every now and then, time--feeling guilty?--relents. Allows us a moment one gentle evening when the voices of old friends drift across a broad lawn, lift us, bear us back into the past, where, once, all things were possible.