While you may have spent your high school years saving the roaches from your best doobies, someone in MY high school graduating class saved each and every one of the school newspapers from those fun-filled days of yesteryear. From posture pictures through gradumication.
How do I know this? Because, for a reason I have yet to fathom, she gave them all to me a few years ago. As Chairperson For Life of all our previous high school reunions, she just handed them to me one night and said, "Here, you take these." I know. My mistake for going to a reunion meeting.
I've been to every one of our reunions, 10th, 20th, 25th, and 40th. All except for the one we had for our 50th birthdays, which would have been our 33rd in reunion years. I chose not to go for reasons which I may write an entry about. If enough people beg me.
If I didn't live in the same area where I grew up, I wouldn't spend a dime to attend one of these shindigs. But for some reason, getting to a reunion for many of my other classmates is important. One of my high school friends, living in Wyoming, showed up at our 40th, totally bald from chemo, riding in a wheel chair, and hooked up to a bag of medication. She was dying of brain cancer and didn't want to miss a chance to say good bye. We had plenty of laughs, even though the humor was very black. At one point someone announced a future meeting for anyone interested in the next reunion. She asked if they could hold it sooner, since she wasn't going to be around much longer.
Perhaps my near perfect reunion attendance record was one reason for the newspaper handoff, since the more reunions you attend, the more crap they ask you to do. More likely, our Chairperson For Life heard that I never throw anything out. Or she thought I would have fun doing something suburban and decoupage-like with them. Perhaps in my spare time, she assumed I could concoct a toilet cover or decorative tabletop out of headlines like "Students begin work on Student Council election," "Parent-teacher dates set" or "Rocket built for contest." I have no clue.
Except for raising children, working, defrosting Stouffer's lasagne, and separating my garbage, I don't know why I've never set aside some quality time to do a creative project with these ancient relics of my past -- the dinosaur bones of the good old days, when I was 6' tall, weighed 126 pounds, and had nicknames like Stick, Dunker, Long Sam, and The Road Runner.
Speaking of which -- the good old days, not my nicknames -- I'm looking at an issue dated November 18, 1960, from the fall of my senior year. On the front page of this edition is a picture of June and Cully, the co-heads of the canned food drive, posing with a bunch of [surprise!] canned food. The first line of this riveting story starts out, "A sock hop will be held in the main gym next Wednesday from 9 p.m. to midnight if students reach the "Grand Can Slam" canned foods drive goal of 51,049 cans." Good times.
So no, I didn't throw the newspapers out. But not because I have any sense of duty or responsibility or wish to maintain closet space in my home as a repository for high school days gone by. I just forgot I had them.
As a result, their discovery came as quite a surprise -- "Oh, shit, I can't believe it!" There they were, crumbling and yellow, as I was going through the last of the many storage boxes, packed up when a pipe burst in my basement two years ago. At that time, the contents of every room had been boxed up by trained professionals [okay, day workers with prison records], who emptied the house [or filled their pockets] and put everything into a storage pod on the driveway. This event was followed immediately by the mold men, who came in and charged thousands of dollars for questionable "reclamation" work, which seemed to consist of a quart of Kilz paint and a couple of cans of fungicide spray.
Since our latest reunion -- the big 5-0 -- is coming up so fast that the facelift I had planned will have to be put on hold, it occurred to me that I might be able to do something with those newspapers, finally. Something to throw up on a screen during the band's fifteen minute pee-break at our Saturday night "business casual" reunion gala.
Keeping things as simple as possible, I'm going to scan four years of student newspapers for anything about anyone in our class and create a slide show that can play during intermission. [For instance, I found a photo of me from junior year on the front page of the paper. I'm described as "dateless for the dance." And I remained dateless. At that point, I was still 0 for high school.]
Quantity is more important than quality for this reunion slideshow effort. First there's the alcohol factor. Drunken olde classmates will help raise its entertainment quotient. Second, when it comes to pictures, people are like cats and laser lights. "Is that me? Is that me? Oh look, that's me! ME ME ME ME ME." I see it as a no-lose.
To accompany this visual spectacle, a few of us are planning to sing some songs from the sixties, with parody lyrics we've written about fellow members of our class. Only five weeks to get it done. It has to be something we can pull off with no rehearsal, since that won't happen. I figure between a former opera singer, a National Geo photographer, a rear admiral, perhaps the former poet laureate of Maryland and me, we can fake it, if nothing else.