I posted this a couple of years ago, but I’m now organizing a 50th year Reunion for my own class of 1965 at Fort Worth Christian, so I thought it might be appropriate once more.
Last weekend was Homecoming at Fort Worth Christian School—my high school alma mater—do you say alma mater for a high school?? Only once since 1965 have I attended FWC’s Homecoming, and then it was just the football game, so I hardly saw anyone I knew.
This Homecoming was very different. Good friends of ours had spent months, if not a whole year, organizing a 50ish Homecoming reunion for the FWC classes of 61, 62, 63, and 64, the very first graduating classes. FWC was such a small school in those early years that even though my class was a year later, I had sung in the chorus, played sports, played in the band, and been friends with these older guys. I actually had a role in the Senior Play for three years—and no, I wasn’t a senior for three years! We were just a small school, so we knew each other!
As if one reunion wasn’t enough, my brother and sister’s class (68) also had a big reunion and I decided to go with Gary to it as well. What was I thinking!
I love the history that reunions recall. I loved the old pictures of cheerleaders in skirts below their knees. I was amazed at the pictures of the empty sheep pasture where the school was built—in the middle of nowhere—an area now surrounded ten miles deep in a heavily populated area of the city. I used to be able to stand on “the hill” as we called it then, and see about twelve miles to the grain elevator in Saginaw. Now, there are so many trees, people don’t know why the area is called College Hill. The trees have overwhelmed the geography!
I was also shocked at the blatant racism in some of the programs we put on in the earliest years. I’m pretty sure I played in the band for these minstrel shows, but I was retrospectively glad that my name was not in the printed program. I remember a big fight we had one year over allowing a child to tap dance in the FWC talent show. We eventually banned tap dancing—for fear of lust, I suppose—but at the same time, we didn’t recognize real racial prejudice in ourselves. I hope this means we have learned a lot in the last fifty years.
I had forgotten how many of my classmates married right out of high school. Many of them married each other! And most of them are divorced. You probably think that should have been expected with them marrying so young, but not necessarily. Most, if not all of our parents married pretty young as well, and they stayed together. But not the newly-weds of the 60s. Divorce, which was taboo in the 50s, became an everyday reality in the 60s. Today, it is hardly a even a category label. Maybe we haven’t learned so much in the last fifty years.
The people missing at the reunion also had a lot to say. A surprising number had already passed away, at least one is in prison, some had moved far away from Ft. Worth and made lives very distant from their high school years, some were embarrassed to come, several had grandkids in football games competing with the reunion and, of course, the grandkids won, and, I suppose, some just didn’t want to come.
That’s ok. High school friendships only stick if you live continuously near classmates that you were great friends with. Notwithstanding our skinny black ties and white jackets or the girls’ skirts and beehive flips–those styles that make us look older to our grandkids, we were just kids.
High school was a great time. FWC, even in its infancy, was a place where we had good friends and where committed teachers inspired us—most of them anyway. The fact that now we’ve gained weight and/or gone bald, succeeded and/or failed, been happy and/or hurt in life, grown emotionally or not—not many if any of the outcomes of our lives can we blame on high school.
Did you know that the letter jacket worn by Fonzie in Happy Days is on exhibit in the Smithsonian?
A little nostalgia is good for everyone, but high school was an isolated moment in time, put on exhibit at your reunion for a brief visit, then you walk out the door into what the real world has become for you.
The trees that have grown up around high school have changed the geography, haven’t they!