During Tuesday’s walk, I saw a passel of cars loaded to capacity with teenagers hanging out every available window. Each occupant’s head was adorned with a blue mortarboard and attached orange and blue tassel swinging to and fro. It seemed each kid tried to out scream the next. I heard shouts of “we’re free at least!!!”, “no more school” and “we’re outta here now” plus similarly scrawled messages, including “Class of 2013”, were painted all over their cars. There was much maniacal honking in between the screaming – mayhem indeed. Lincoln Park High School seniors are ready to graduate. In fact, commencement is tonight. I may have wanted to plug my ears with my fingers, but it was not all that long ago that I indulged in the same crazy behavior. Ahem, well a mere four decades ago!! We had our clique of six inseparable school chums through the latter years of high school and we similarly celebrated the end of our LPHS days and were equally raucous and rowdy. Best buddy Sheila Howard borrowed her dad’s gold Montego and we collectively emblazoned every available inch of that car with LPHS’ school colors of orange and blue, splashed our school motto, our names, flowers – you name it, everywhere. We all kicked in for gas money and spent hours riding up/down Fort Street honking at all our class members – there was a helluva lot of honking going on because we had 613 in our graduating class … that was the June class alone. Our class had weathered six long years together ,three at Huff Junior High and the last three at Lincoln Park High School. We spent more time together as a group in the last week, then we probably spent in every assembly, talent show, school dance, queuing up on Bagel Day, etc., etc. There was Senior Skip Day on Friday, June 8th which was an all-day trip to Cedar Point; Baccalaureate on Sunday, June 10th in the school auditorium and lastly, the Senior Banquet was held Monday, June 11th . The Banquet was a chance to dress up in our finery, flaunt our best manners and break bread with our classmates in a grown-up setting, instead of the round tables in the LPHS cafeteria. Finally, the big day was upon us. We had so many seniors participating in commencement we had to go to Cobo Hall. It was a sickening hot evening and little if no air conditioning was present. I unzipped my gown a bit for some air as I awaited the “S” names to be called. Then the zipper got stuck and panic set in. Just before my name was announced, four people managed to put the zipper back on the track and I got myself together enough when I heard “Linda Schaub” to march across the stage in my three-inch platform shoes. (I needed those – I was already five feet nine inches tall.) After our graduation ceremony ended, with tassels flipped to the left side, the entire class headed back to the high school for our All-Night Party. We ate, we danced and we watched “Play Misty for Me” (us girls swooning over Clint Eastwood all the while). We were running on empty by then. Soon, after a night of cheers and a celebration of our years together, it was time for tears as the sun came up and our group gathered together to say our goodbyes as we uttered “Go Rails!!” on last time.
I’ve been thinking alot about high school the past month. Plans are in the works for our class’ 40-year reunion. I’m not interested to go at all. My five closest friends and I planned a five-year reunion of just us in the Fall of 1978 which turned out to be a debacle. In those days social media and cell phones didn’t exist and we soon lost touch with one another after being inseparable through school. During school, we had spent many evenings discussing how we would stand up in each another’s weddings or would name our first-born children after one other – I say this laughingly because three of the six of us were named “Linda” so it wasn’t an entirely impossible feat. At our reunion, we thought, rather stupidly, that we could duplicate one of our usual school-time Friday night events (dinner and a movie) as a great way to get together, reminisce and catch up. Sadly, we didn’t have enough in common to fill an entire evening of conversation. So, no – I won’t repeat that exercise by going to my high school reunion. In fact, recently one of my Facebook buddies who “friended” me last year posted an inquiry for all to see as to whether I would attend our reunion. I wrote him a private message back that I was not interested to see anyone and had not attended any of the prior reunions and he should not take that answer personally. Now, Bob and I had not communicated before now – we merely “friended” one another through Facebook, via old classmates. So we kibitzed a bit; Bob told me about his successful career, then asked what I was doing career-wise. Funny, but that seemed like an unusual question to me since most people who know me are aware I never fulfilled my dream of becoming a journalist (although perhaps this blog helps to fill that void – better late than never!!). No problem with the question – after all we had not been in touch for forty years. Well, I’m not embarrassed to say that I did not pursue my dream. You’ll not hear any apologies from me; no angst or inner turmoil exists in how I make my living, however, for some reason I did feel a little deficient when hearing about Bob’s career accomplishments versus mine. I am content with how my life has turned out – good health trumps wealth and is more important to me; all the money or prestige in the world cannot give you excellent health. As to school, you cannot put a price on education and no one can take your years of education away from you. That said, if someone were to ask me to impart some wisdom to the LPHS Class of 2013, it would be to follow your dreams and aspirations and never lose your spirit in the process. My spirit is still intact. At the end of this post are some of the highlights from MY commencement program.
Today’s walk marked the same trek I travelled circa 1970 to 1973, 2.4 miles round trip from home to my old stomping grounds and back. In fact, Huff Junior High was a mere stone’s throw away from the high school, so that round trip would have been about two miles. Six years, for nine months each year, I traipsed through snow, ice, rain, searing heat and similar inclement weather. No car ride for this kid. No wonder I was so skinny back in those days!! As I passed by LPHS today there was an aura of excitement in the air. The marquis touted tonight’s commencement. A few capped-and-gowned students were milling about, not clustered on the front steps as we might have done; now a six-foot high iron fence stands in the front part of the school. Times have certainly changed, but the exhilaration of new beginnings and the rest of your life stretching before you like an empty canvas has not. Also timeless – this morning I noticed the huge rock in the front of LPHS, which has had layers upon layers of orange and blue paint, still stands there festooned with the flourishes and comments by the graduating seniors….until the same time next year.
Class flower: Rose of Peace.
Class Colors: Navy Blue and Powder Blue.
Class Song: “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.
Class Theme: “Beginnings” by Chicago.
Class Saying: “Run through the fields, be happy and free, we’re the class of ’73.”
Class Motto: “A million tomorrows shall all pass away ‘ere I forget all the joys that were mine today.”