40 years. How can it be 40 years since I graduated from high school? The class of 1974 from Denver City High School graduated when Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon and the Vietnam deserters, Patricia Hurst was kidnapped and Mama Cass died, work began on the Alaskan pipeline and the price of gas began its continuous upward spiral. Streakers ran fast across football fields and Oscar stages. Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The Orient Express
and The Great Gatsby
were favorite date night movies. We chose Time in a Bottle
by Jim Croce as our class song. It seems so long ago and yet it also seems as if it were just yesterday that we walked across that graduation stage and out of one another's lives.
At our reunion one topic of discussion was how many of us started first grade together. There were a lot. People seemed to stay put more when we were young although we had some wonderful people move in and out of our class during our 12 year stint. As I looked across the room at the gathering of my peers, I was filled with memories about each and everyone of my classmates. Some people I knew immediately and others I could have walked next to them in the mall and never have guessed I knew them in another life. Overall, everyone looked damn good for being almost 60. I was a little worried about being overweight, grey haired and currently unemployed. Those things really didn't seem to matter.
I missed the ones not there like Ted Albritton, Mike Andrews, Marvin Beard, Lisa Blalock, Nell Blevins, Guy Bounds, Paula Bragg, Neita Brian, Mike Bridges, Randy Bruton, Sabrina Cain, Roma Carnes, Daniel Carr, Mike Carson, Beth Covington, Mark Cox, David Criswell, Tony Cruz, Kenneth Cummings, Melinda Cunningham, Rodney Deaton, Shirley Dodd, Phyllis Baker, Kent Eudy, Jan Fore, Gary Freeman, Rocky Fulbright, Ellen Fuller, Keith Funderburk, Anna Belle Grubbs, Perry Ham, Gary Harris, Jackie Henson, David Heyen, Gloria Hinkle, Nancy Hinson, Nubbin Holland, Butch Jividen, Bryan Lambeth, Gary Lehnert, Steve Lundy, Lynn McCutchen, Wes McDaniels, Cynthia Martin, Mark Mead, David Miller, Milton Minchew, David Mobley, Brenda O'Neal, Charlotte Overstreet, Juarez Panisset, Jerry Provence, Linda Rice, Buster Rich, Rudy Rivas, Lenny Roberson, Lupe Rodriquez, Jack Savage, John Singleton, Fletchter Smith, Melissa Smith, Richard Smith, Sherrie Stockman, James Suggs, Robert Thomas, Debbie Thornton, Johnny Torres, Brenda Trantham, Kathy Tredaway, Roger Tucker, Dan Vernon, Ester Wagley, Donna Webber, Shelia Williams, Sheree Windham and last but certainly not least, Rodney Young. I especially missed the ones who died way too early. Dale Allen, Pam Catlin, Neil Munn, Jimmy Hicks and Beverly Carpenter were ones that I was close to and my heart really wished they were there sharing a drink and a conversation with the rest of us.
There is something about talking to someone who knew you as a child and as a teenager that makes you feel connected. When I saw Beverly Pharr my mind flooded with the memory of walking across the sand of a plowed cotton field eating my very first avocado. Man, Beverly could walk fast across those sandy rows. I struggled and she had to wait for me to catch up. I loved it when I got to go spend the night with her. When I saw Cheryl Jones I thought about us sitting up in her tree house with the wind whipping through our hair as we ate snow cones and dangled our bare feet in the air. Roger Kennedy reminded me when we had matching lockets. I had his name on mine in the 6th grade and he had mine. He made me smile! I told Richard Thurston that I had thought about him so often over the years as I struggled to raise three boys. Their antics often made me think of Richard. He could make me laugh so hard. I would remind myself that I needed to laugh at their shananigans just as I had laughed at his. I didn't get to talk to near enough people, I just didn't have enough time. I could tell my fond memories about everyone but I'll stop here. Funny, only warm thoughts fill my heart. I have no doubt however that there were several there who could tell stories about how I pissed them off over one thing or another over the years! But no one brought up bad memories we laughed and enjoyed being together.
The main feeling I came away with as I pulled out of the driveway of the Hilton in Grapevine on my way home to Paris is that we have a lot of good people in our class. Really good, kind, strong, solid people who grew up in the West Texas oil fields. I like all of them. I wish all of them the best life has to offer. I look forward to the next reunion.