Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Really?!!? 55 YEARS Ago?
There we are ... the mighty class of 1962, Hiram High School, Hiram, Ohio. All that's left of the once formidable early-60s' Huskies! There weren't all that many of us to begin with. A tiny school (my older brother's graduating class, 1959, had about a dozen), Hiram added some kids in the 1958-59 school year when nearby Streetsboro had a problem with its high school and had to send their youngsters around to various other schools in the county. I think we about doubled in size when they arrived. Our class graduation picture from 1962 (see below) shows forty-one of us (if I count correctly). Years later, a teacher, I used to tell my students that I--working so very hard--had graduated tenth in my class. They were impressed--until I added a little fact to the Fake News.
BTW: If you're curious, I'm at the far left. Toward the top. The dork with the National Honor Society pin gleaming on his lapel.
We gathered on Saturday afternoon at the home of Ronnie (now "Ron") at his home in Hiram Township--down near Camp Asbury, once accessible only by a rough dirt Asbury Road, since paved. Oddly in later years, when I was a middle school teacher in nearby Aurora, our sixth graders would spend a week at Camp Asbury. One year, one of those sixth graders was my own son ...
It was a gorgeous afternoon--sunny, mid-seventies. Ronnie and his wife had arranged tables outside in their sprawling yard, and there we gathered ... pretending (in some cases) to recognize one another, eyes straining for the name tags ... (Is it bad if even the name tag doesn't help? Not a sign of imminent dementia or anything, right?)
It was potluck. But I didn't eat--I'd promised to take Joyce out to dinner when I got home--but I sat and sipped coffee and caught up with old friends--and with people I wish I'd been smart enough to know better when I was Young and Stupid (is this redundant?). Bob, a good friend back then who became a prof at Case-Western was there); I hadn't seen him in five years (the previous reunion), and we laughed about ... well, you know. Always good to see Ralph, who's become a good friend on Facebook.
Not many of us, by the way, are on Facebook.
Carla and I have been teasing each other for more than a half-century now (and on it goes!), and Linda was kind to me, as always.
We talked and laughed on through the afternoon--wondered about classmates we haven't seen since the 1960s, told stories about those who couldn't be there, told more stories about those no longer alive (and there are too many of them). We especially talked about our former Coach, Bob Barnhart, who passed away this year. He was a big influence on a lot of us, and I have to say that he changed my high-school life in so many ways--all for the better. He was the Real Thing.
And then it was selfie-time. And pictures and more pictures and more pictures.
And then I drove off toward home, my heart once again throbbing with pleasure, sorrow, regret, nostalgia.
BTW: One of the reasons for the success of such events? No one talked politics. No one--at least in any of the conversations I had. We found, instead, that common community park we share. Where we played ...
On Sunday afternoon, it was Round Two. All the classes of the Hiram Schools (the high school consolidated with nearby Crestwood for the beginning of the 1964-65 academic year) gather each year in July up in Welshfield (five miles north of Hiram) at the community center. There were only a few of us there this time from the Class of 1962 (see below), but I got to talk with some others I'd known pretty well back then. Jim--an older guy I'd played basketball with; Paul, younger, with whom I acted in the musicals his mother directed.
I had to leave quickly, though. It was our son's forty-fifth birthday, and he and his family were coming over later in the afternoon ... had to get home to help.
So once again I drove into the west, Memory seated beside me, whispering ...