Monday, November 18, 2013

Kids I Grew Up With

A photo taken of my four-room elementary school, complete with a bell.  We had homemade rolls and fried chicken for lunches in the basement.

I missed my 50th reunion, but the people who attended had so much fun and rousted up such good memories that they decided to keep in touch.  I was invited to join in.  Said yes.  Pronto.

I'd lost touch with so many of those kids, even though we started first grade together and graduated, pretty much intact.  I think only Carmelo, our resident Basque kid, moved away.  It's tough to place the photos of people now with the children and teens I knew then.  Names changed too, particularly with the girls, through marriage.

Melba in the 1950s and 1960s was a mystical farming community, with fields in varying shades of green, well kept homes, neighbors and their children on farms that were a quarter mile away.  I was a dorky sort of kid, more interested in books than lipstick, although the boys were pretty darn cute.  All that bucking hay bales gave them wonderful shoulders and strong backs.  They were all nice, and a little shy.  There were 28 kids in my graduating class.

So it was with some surprise that a lot of us geezers and geezerettes wound up on Facebook.

We share a checked past, post-high school.  One of my best high school friends, Bob T, turned out to be a gay man and he died of AIDS.  His obituary focused on the truth, which I imagine, he held close and kept dear.  It wouldn't have made a whit of difference now, but then it did.

Two boys, Donnie and Bobby G, died in Vietnam, a thing our Harley guy, Perry, still grieves.

Eddy died in a car wreck not a week post-graduation.

Donna died of a brain tumor,  Another Barb, a year older, died of cancer.  Eileen and probably Billy K were suicides.  Janel,  Paula, and Joyce have the most children.  Larry, I think, made the most money, but his sister Nancy might be dead.  There are a few serial marriages, a few with their original marriages still intact,  a few divorces.  One of which was my old boyfriend, Bill, who is now living with a woman sans marriage in a far-away city.  I wonder if it isn't my fault.  I was such a mess, due to a death in the family, the last year we dated that it might have marked him for life.  Certainly, it marked me.  Carole is a splendid artist,  I'm a writer, Judy is a wonderful photographer, and Janel was the musician.  Still might be.  I still see posts where our Harley guy writes poetry about his post-Vietnam experiences.  We're all pretty arty for such ragamuffins.

David is a pastor, married to his high school sweetheart, and we just saw each other a couple of Sundays ago.  David reminded me, not too long ago, what was said at my mother's funeral.  She was the high school secretary and the unofficial school counselor, and people have told me, "Your mom saved me, more than once."  So.  Sweet, that.

Most of us are parents and grandparents, aunties and uncles, loving the children that trail behind us.  A few of us are still renegades and not just the boys.  Most of us are ardent conservatives and my brother and I might be the only liberals, but we'll keep that our little secret.  

It's quite wonderful, 50 years later, seeing those family names reappearing again.  It feels like a grounding and a returning.  

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating post! It's wonderful to be in touch with so many lifelong friends.