Memory Lane’s a Trip

| illustration by Charles Marsh |

Well, it finally happened. My 50th high school reunion. Hard to believe it had been 50 years since I saw my last jar of Butch Wax. All of us Paschal grads met up at the old Cullen Davis mansion and basically reminisced about things we couldn't remember. Some of my classmates had changed so much, they didn't even recognize me. But it was fun. After all that time, one of my friends was still trying to get up the nerve to talk to one of the prettiest girls in our class. The open bar helped.

Maybe a little too much. Convinced that she would soon be whispering sweet nothings in his Miracle Ear, he decided to make his move and ambled in her direction across the room. It was like watching Bambi learn to walk. She shut him down pretty quickly.  I'm pretty sure I know what fantasy he had in mind, but sometimes you reach the stage when the only chance you have of removing someone's clothes is if they're in the dryer.

I actually enjoy high school reunions. But we also always talk quite a bit about things we did way before high school. Back then, most of your good friends wound up going through almost every grade together. Many of us even attended pre-kindergarten together at Mrs. Massey's a few blocks south of Elizabeth Boulevard in the Fairmount section of Fort Worth. Seems like it was a two-year program, but my parents kept me there for three. (I struggled with coloring books. Still do.) Then I attended Alice Carlson Elementary through sixth grade, McLean Junior High through ninth, then on to R.L. Paschal High.

And conversations can be bittersweet because we tend to only remember the good things. Everything seemed simpler and much more pleasant. We're a little more cynical now. For example, when I was 11 or 12, we all went to the "kid shows" on Saturday at the TCU movie theater. And even back then, Disney was making the most popular movies. His secret? Take something that doesn't talk and make it talk. What do we call something like that today? Waterboarding.

Then of course several people dragged in suitcases full of pictures of all of us from the 50s and 60s.  I never paid much attention back then, but pretty much every girl seemed to have perfect teeth. My teeth looked like they were being punished and not allowed to sit together. I could have flossed with a garden hose. I wore braces for four years.

The 60s ushered in the beginning of the biggest social and cultural change this country had ever seen. But the changes still hadn't quite caught on when we graduated in 1966. Yeah, I realize the Beatles had been around a couple of years, but we were all still pretty straight-laced. I remember thinking that when I graduated and went to college, I would never be able to wear blue jeans again. Within three years, I was not only wearing blue jeans every day, I was wearing the same blue jeans every day. In that span of time, my goal went from becoming a pilot, a geologist or some other type of professional, to figuring out how many classes I could miss without flunking out.

A lot of my classmates had similar stories, yet scratched out a living and somehow survived. Some of us didn't make it. And that's one of the things that really bonded us that evening. We all know we're on the dartboard now, and may not make it to our 55th. The other thing that bonded us was knowing that each of us will always represent a connection to an incredible time that will never exist again. And being around the people that shared your experiences just gives you a little sense of security. Plus the girls looked great. Admittedly, some are a little new to technology, and watching them try to scroll through pictures on a phone was like watching somebody try to pet a bubble. As for the guys, well…the girls looked great.