The day after labor day in 1950, my mother took me to a place called school and left me in a room full of strange kids. Although I didn't know it at the time, I had joined what would become Damascus High School Class of '63.
There were over sixty of us, some of whom made it into the our initial class picture. Others would join later. Over the years, some would move away. Some would move for a period only to return later. Others would join later and some very late. When a person joined didn't matter, once a member, always a member.
Over the course of time we became like a family. We worked and learned together. We played together, laughed together and cried together as well. As in most families, we also fought with one another and as part of the process learned to make up and forgive one another. During those years, we formed bonds of friendship and mutual respect that continue to this day.
Then, on a warm June evening in 1963, we marched across a stage, received our diplomas and passed into history.
It's hard to believe that evening was over fifty years ago.
Fifty years ago, our motto was "Hitch your wagon to a star", and we did.
Fifty years ago, we had ambitions and dreams. Today, those ambitions and dreams have been tempered and changed by time and life.
Fifty years ago, like characters in a fairy tale, we set off to seek our fortunes. Today, our fortunes have been gained, lost, and regained.
Fifty years ago, we thought we knew exactly what success would look like. Today, we have learned success doesn't always look like what you expect. For the most part, that's okay.
Fifty years ago, we knew we were bullet proof and would go on forever. Today, we know better. Of those who walked across that stage on that evening in June, 1963, thirteen are no longer with us. They are gone and we are diminished.
From the outside, we probably looked typical. From inside we were unique. Fifty years later, we remain so.
One classmate was the subject of so many announcements calling him to the principal's office, vice principal's office, front office, or guidance counselor's office that we all waited for a request to have the principal, vice principal, and guidance counselor to report to his office instead.
Another classmate stormed out of English Class and sent himself to the principal's office after receiving a grade of B for a better score than had earned a classmate an A, probably the only student in history to ever do such a thing.
Yet another was the original "Joe Cool". He had the perfect flat top haircut a green sports car and an active vendetta against his Senior English Teacher. Somehow, he still managed to graduate with the rest of us.
Still another had a '50 Ford with 3/4 race cam, two deuces and overdrive and was too color blind to tell flashing yellow from flashing red lights. A ride with him was interesting indeed.
We were wild. We were crazy. We were free; legends in our own minds, seeking our unique place in the world. Somehow, we made it through. Somehow, we survived. Looking back with the perspective of fifty years, most of us realize how incredibly blessed we were and are.
Today, in words reminiscent of the Statler Brothers,
"...We'll never feel bad 'bout the times that we had
Never look back in regret.
The heaven they gave, we will treasure and save
'Cause it might be as close as we get"
How about your class?
What made you unique?
What do you look back on with fondness?
Which friends do you remember?