I don’t know how it made it out of the storage box, but somehow, about six years ago when we moved into our home, it was removed from the box, and stacked in the back of a bookshelf.
Of course I’m talking about my senior high school yearbook, from Red River High School in Grand Forks. As I was looking for another book, actually, I saw it sitting there with its unmissable red cover, and “1974” emblazoned of the edge. Do you know how sometimes, when you touch something you haven’t seen in a long time, or that has always held a special place, that it almost seems that the molecules in your brain realign, and you can’t help yourself but to sit down and study it again – at least for a little while.
The early 70s was an interesting time to be high school. Our school, for some reason, did a multiple year experiment in “flexible scheduling.” Depending on the classes you took – history, science, English or whatever – you had the flexibility for when you wanted to take an individual class that week or that month. For instance, every month in gym, there was a signup for which type of activity you wanted to do. Whether that was swimming, weight training, or the rotating monthly ones like archery, badminton, or modern dance (to be avoided at all costs!), you would select one, put it in your schedule and move on.
Some of the classes had a large group, like history, that met twice a week, and then you would sign up for a small group meeting once weekly. The schedule changed all the time, and you could schedule classes one week differently because you had a big test in one of the areas, and you wanted to block out classes before the test hour. Besides the classes, if you weren’t scheduled for an hour, you would go to a “resource center,” like the library, or a place to get help with math, or science, or even to spend time in the choir room, working on school work (or just fooling around). It was an experiment, as I mentioned, but for me, it was a wonderful pre-college orientation. You succeeded or failed, but it was on your terms.
I found my senior picture. There I was, with shoulder length hair, wearing a shirt with a green velvet bow tie, and a brown and white checked sports coat. As I looked across the pages, I noticed that probably 20 other guys in their pictures had close to the same style.
I thumbed through the activity pages, and found myself remembering all the many different groups I belonged to, and the wide mix of people I worked with. I took state in Speech in radio broadcasting my senior year, and I was the final speaker at graduation. I didn’t count all the clubs and groups I was part of, but I’m sure it was over a dozen. Some like national honor society were helpful resume builders, while others, like key club, were really only a chance to get closer to the pretty girls who had joined.
And I took time to look at the people in my life that year. Joni, Susie, Mary, Laurie, Debbie –I guess all the girls at that time had an “ee” sound at the end of their names… and the guys who were friends – Joel, Tim, Bill, Gary, Tom and others – even Arley – filled my mind once again with the memories of the escapades we did and the fun we had.
Of course, most of my favorite teachers are dead now. It is amazing to think that their life’s work, in part, was to teach me how to become more of who I am, and to access my mind and my few talents to make a difference in this world. Sadly, many of my classmates are also dead, some having barely made it past graduation. I remember hearing of one guy, the son of one of the ten wealthiest business owners in the area, was found a few days after commencement, dead in a car with his girlfriend as they were asphyxiated with carbon monoxide in one of the garages his dad owned. That was always a strange feeling, since we knew we were invincible, and just starting to live big time, now that we were out of high school. He didn’t live that long, and it became a caution to me to realize that even though we might have the freedom to do whatever we want, doing that might just be the most dangerous things possible. I think, in the 47 years since, what he missed, and what his family missed. There is nothing but sadness about that.
So, I spent time staring into the eyes of the friends of my past, and those I admired, and even those I tried hard to forget. I also stared at the face of that young guy who seemed to know everything and nothing at the same time. That guy who, since the book was made, has lived dozens of more different lives, experienced what he could never have imagined to be ahead for him, and now – can take time on a dreary, rainy morning, and see his past, and just simply recall what was.
It’s always a special treat to walk back and visit who you once were. It’s equally important, however, to always end up back in the modern day, and to be thankful for where you are right now – good or bad, it’s your life and worth the journey.
I don’t even know where my JUNIOR yearbook is! I’ll have to look for it – sometime…
Word for the day: pollex. Pronounced PAH-leks. This was a word I once knew, but had forgotten. It comes from the Latin pollex, and the verb pollere, which means “to be strong.” So what is a pollex? Well, the definition is “the first or preaxial digit of the forelimb, corresponding to the halex of the hindlimb.” Not too helpful. The pollex in primates, including humans is your thumb. It’s that strongest of your digits, and sits opposed to the other four. We have gathered sayings about the thumb over the centuries – we give a “thumbs up,” or a “thumbs down” as the symbol of approval or not; we keep someone under our “thumb,” when we want to strongly control them; and worst, there is the “rule of thumb,” which was a legal measurement. A stick could have no larger diameter than a man’s thumb, that he could use to beat his wife. Not humanity’s finest hour.
But perhaps you can sneak our word into your daily communication, by even giving something your “pollex up…”
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.