Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ten Questions from Rainlille at Great Minds

This week I received a "Ten Questions High School Edition" request from Great Minds Think Like Me. Those questions set me to thinking about high school. It was a growing period of my life, and one that did not end soon enough. I had great friends, most of whom I had grown up with, either at school for 12 years or in the neighborhood. In a small town like ours the "neighborhood," ostensibly, meant the town. However, there were a few of us who lived as close neighbors and spent a great deal of our time together.

When I would come home mad at one of my close friends, my mother would tell me to stay away from him for a while because we had spent too much time together. It always worked. By the next day we were the best of buddies again. We built wagons , rode bicycles, played games in groups, and roamed town from daylight until after dark most summer days. It was a great time.

However, by the time I reached the end of my senior year, I had had enough. The constant pressures of silly teenage mind games had taken their toll. After many, many years together and changing personalities among some, I was ready to leave the confining years of grade school and make a fresh start with new friends. A few of my friends went to the same college. Most of them I had grown up with, but it was a different atmosphere and a different culture that we entered as college freshmen.

I still remember my high school alma mater. Such a quiet, solemn time, when it was sung at ball games and other school gatherings. We took it seriously, and we loved our school. I don't know if they still have the same one today or if they sing it. I do not remember either of the alma maters from the two colleges I attended.

About 75% of my 92 or so high school senior classmates still live here or have returned home. A few have passed on due to illness or accidents. I see some of them occasionally in a town that has changed in so many ways. Our single county commissioner, the most professional the county has ever had, is a friend from church kindergarten days. A couple are church pastors. Others own local businesses. My next door neighbor growing up owns a local auto parts store. I stop in to see him occasionally and do business with him when I can. A few of us have already retired either from government jobs or teaching positions.

A few of my teachers still live. Most were older when I was in school. My second grade teacher is in the local nursing home at 95 years of age. Her hearing is bad, but she is still sharp. She did not feel comfortable living alone any longer. Another died recently of cancer. She was a young teacher in high school and my favorite. She was, of course, a history teacher.

High school is a time that I do not look back upon very fondly. It was not unpleasant. I just do not have really warm, pleasant memories. The student bus to the away ball games was fun. The yeast rolls in the cafeteria (we called it the lunchroom) were great. I won the honor medals for history and was a member of the Beta Club, an honor society. Only one teacher really had an impact on me. They were all good teachers for the most part, and I was well prepared for college. But I sure was glad to receive that diploma and put that part of my life behind.

I have little in common now with most of the old friends. College was definitely a better experience and a time that I still look fondly upon, yet once again, for the most part I have little in common with most of my college friends. Meeting my wife is one of the high points of that time. Today I relish seeing and communicating with friends from my work days. I spent 30 years with many of them and we have much more in common. Maybe it is also because those years are closer. Whatever the case, I look more fondly on those years than either college or high school. That period of my life was full of adventure, fun, stress, and occasional distress, but I will cherish it forever. I closed the high school chapter of my life in May of 1968, and I haven't really wanted to open that book again.

5 comments:

Doug Robertson said...

You were ending your high school the same year I was starting kindergarten. You were glad to be done with it and I was dreading even at that age all those years ahead. I always did great in school, I just hated it is all. Although I wouldn't mind going through it all again to be young again, I think. School years seemed to drag on but life afterwards goes way too fast for my liking.

Stephen Fox said...

GMM:

Great blog. I resonate with a lot of your thoughts; though there are several conversations I would like to have with friends from HS just to see how they pilgrimmed on.
But, like you, I've pretty much laid it down.
I do envy your ability to go home again, as it were; to go backandlive where you were raised.
In my case I don't think I could quite do that, though would be nice to have some good visits with some folks.
You are prime for a good read of www.davidmaraniss.com latest book. Check his site.
One other fairly random note; can't think of Georgia and HS without Dickey's great tale in the poem Looking for the Buckhead Boys coming to mind.
One other thing. Heard a wonderful presentation this week by a nephew of Lester Maddox. If it gets published I will be sure to let you know cause you will find it entirely fascinating.
Long story short, a progressive Baptist who is brother to former chair of the SC GOP, Maddox nephew; led the struggle couple years ago to have Greenville County SC honor the MLKing Holiday; Greenville, home of Jesse Jackson.

Shannon said...

I read this blog entry while eating lunch and really enjoyed reading your thoughts on high school/college and your experiences.

Diane J Standiford said...

oooo, this hits home thanks )no thanks--ugh) to stupid Facebook, where some High School mates and a teacher have contacted me. I would NEVER go back. I mostly always hated school, skipped more school than anyone I know. Only Drama class got me through. All I had on my mind from kindergarten on was: WHEN DO I GET OUT?! Then came my first love, left me for my 8yrs older sibling, at 17 that is pure hell. I can't say I feel connected to many groups, though I try. Guess I am a loner. It suits me. I would cut off an arm before I would return to a HS reunion.

Ryan said...

The problem with high school is that I actually enjoyed it. Only a few friends do I still see for social calls. College is much the same. I think work place friends have more commonality. Good post.