At my old high school last weekend, I attended the all-school reunion. We were supposed to have a big bash last year for my class’ 50th year, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. I guess the 51st anniversary didn’t hold as much prestige, since only six of us, out of a class of 52, showed up for the festivities. On the other hand, my entire first-grade class of 1958 at the one-room school I attended were present. Both of us were there.
It was a fun day, but I was shocked at how many old people were there. My classmates and I, representing the class of 1970, were absolutely still young, but anyone from the class of 1969, and prior years, seemed to have the market cornered on walkers, canes and wheelchairs.
A lot of nostalgic memories were stirred as I roamed the hallways and classrooms of the old building. There was the science lab where Betty Lou vomited while dissecting the frog. There’s where the principal’s office used to be and where the infamous black paddle hung on the wall. There is the old shop building, where Wayne cut off the tips of four fingers, while jointing the edge of a walnut board. Ah, memories.
I broke away from the crowd to make my way to the old vo-ag classroom and shop, where I spent most of my high school days (and a lot of nights, as well). Alone, I walked around the perimeter of the room, where dozens of plaques, won by hundreds of FFA members, hung proudly on their wall of fame. Sadly, I didn’t find any that were older than the 1980s. Later that day, I ran into the current ag teacher and asked him about trophies and plaques from the 1960s and 1970. “Well, we don’t have room for all of them,” he replied. “But we never throw anything away. They’re probably in the storage closet.”
Once upon a time, the group pictures of every graduating class, hung somewhere in the hallways. Now, there is a giant screen TV that shines continuously near the entrance of the building that can (if you know how to work it) instantly pull up those group photographs, without walking all the hallways in the school. As one of my classmates and I, pulled up the class of 1970, displayed in high-tech, digitized and colorized format, I muttered, “I wonder where the original is?”
“Probably in a storage closet, somewhere,” he replied.
As the day came to a close, and everyone started saying their good-byes, my old friend from the first-grade class of 1958 said, “Well, I hope to see you, right here, for our 60th reunion, in nine years.”
“I hope to be here, as well.” I replied. “If, by some chance you’re here, and I’m not around, just start looking around the building. I’ll probably be in a storage closet, somewhere.”
Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’