Graduation time is here. Kids going through the end of the year ceremonies and traditions. Awards night. Honors night. Prom. Graduation, and probably more.
In Greenwood Cove, way back in the day, the smallest school in the state at the time, had its traditions too. Many of them were handed down from its predecessor, Greenwood Cove Academy.
Greenwood Cove High School still held on to many of the traditions of GCA. The school colors. The songs. Moving Up Day. Ivy Day. The Grade 8-12 school model and the yearbook. Remember yearbooks? Do you go back occasionally and shake one out and see what was said way back then, when hopes and dreams sprang eternal and Life had not yet put its hand on your back to push you in the direction it wanted. Maybe even, if you did not want it. Did you have a say? Or, did you just go along to whatever presented its shiny head. Did you become what you wanted to become-OR?
Remember, you were going to the NFL! The NBA! The MLB! YOU were going to be President. Maybe Governor. A top physicist. A Doctor. YOU were going to save the world. The choices were endless depending. Would the boy/girl back then be proud of the man/woman you’ve become?
When you got your yearbook, one of the traditions was to have your teachers, coaches, school staff and fellow schoolmates sign it. Most of the time it was: “Best of Luck,” “Good Wishes” or something else “for the future.” Some were quite meaningful maybe. Some might have been right on.
Brian thought of that the other day. Over the years he has accumulated so much stuff, once meaningful, that has now become, in the words of his wife, “So much junk, get rid of it.” How do you get rid of the touchstones of a life? But, he has started.
His Grandkids are getting a lot. They want the sports stuff, trophies, pictures etc. The Historical Society is getting stuff. The High School Art Department. The library.
He has 62 scrapbooks and boxes upon boxes of photos. Mostly because of a comment made one time. Proof he rode a Jack-a-Lope. Wrestled a Grizzly bear (it was stuffed).
His 62nd reunion is looming, and as nothing is being done, he and his first girlfriend are meeting for a drink and sandwich. They will entwine arms, take a sip and film it for Facebook. Happy Reunion!
All this activity got Brian to thinking about yearbooks. He has one for each of his five years at GCHS. He got them out.
1956 – 8th grade – Very little in it. A couple of teachers signed. Typical Best Wishes. Good Luck.
In the future.
1957 – Frosh year. A couple of teachers signed. Their names. A Sincerely. A Best wishes. Brian notices most of the senior football players have a posed practice shot with their senior pic. They went unbeaten that year and won the Class C title.
At the back he comes across a slew of signings. “To the jumping king.” “The only boy who can get detention for doing nothing.” “To my first dance partner.” “Til bobby pins get stuck on permanent waves.” “To the Best first baseman ever!” “Hope you make it through Zacanazzi’s Algebra class.” (Didn’t, flunked). “Have to write on the cover to make room for comments by all your lovers.” hahaha
1958 – Sophomore – “Don’t push Zacan too far OR you’ll be sorry.” “Puero bono omnia optima” (from Latin teacher). “You had better stop driving around in that Big Cadillac without a license – OR else!” “Stop throwing chalk in study hall!” “Someday you will be a writer and make a record.” “Did you learn anything in English with all those rock n’ roll quizzes?” “Yours ‘til the far east meets the near west.”
“Brian. You really pep up our classes.” “You really liven up Geometry, and you’ll probably be in it next year too. haha.” “Next year is our year. Can’t wait til we hit the field.” “To a good kid, who, perhaps, is the greatest athlete GCHS has ever produced. Go Hauggers! – Ace” “To a nice Mongrel Italiano-Irish-Indian from a big, square-headed Swede. Funna Head.” “To someone with a great sense of humor, who livens up every class he’s in.”
1959 – Junior – “Don’t forget your one-punch KO.” “Congratulations on an outstanding year in sports as a Jr. Next year should be even better” – Coach C.A. Cherry. “Don’t forget all the fun we had in US History & Drivers Ed.” “Stay out of trouble!” “Brian, you have a beautiful personality and a dancing ability to match.” “Brian. You don’t smoke. You don’t drink. But, most of all, you never think.” “Good Luck to a future Marine!” “I’d have never gotten the marks I got in history if not for you.” “To a future writer and historian.” “It was good we had you in football, basketball and baseball. We would have lost without you.” “You sure did a nice job on American Bandstand.” “To ‘Glue-fingers,’ best pass catcher ever.” “To a real, sweet upper-classman, even if you are a ‘Yankee.'” ” I will always have Peaches, ready for you to ride.” “To the altar boy at 8:30 mass on Sundays.” “To a kid who can get along with anyone.” “I don’t know what this school would be without you. YES, I DO! QUIET!”
1960 – Senior – “Brian. Thank you for your athletic achievements. I will always cherish the memories of your fantastic catches; your uncanny shooting ability; and your quickness and sliding ability on the base paths. You had unreal desire and determination to win. GCHS will always remember you as Mr. Perpetual Energy, Ray Berry, Bob Cousy and Maury Wills all in one.” – Coach Cherry “This school will miss you next year,” Mr. M. “Don’t forget to talk to us when you make it, you Fathead.” “Next year the guys blocking for you will weigh more than 135 pounds. It was fun though.” “To My first date.” “You livened up many a class. Maybe you should try teaching.” “I’ll miss your spirit and friendliness.” “I think you’d make a wonderful coach.” “Maybe you’ll put on some weight in college.” “You’ll have to study by yourself next year AND get some new girls to do your homework.” “Regardless of what they are saying, I know you will make it.” To an old comrade. Be cool. Stay calm. And don’t get collected.” “Next year you’ll be catching someone else’s passes.” “You can swim in our pool anytime.” You did well in sports BUT I hope you do well in the world.” “Good Luck at State. Show them how the game is played.”
And, as those written words fade on glossy pages, so do we all. Some of the writers of those words are now gone. In a class of 57 bright-eyed bushy-tailed seniors let loose on the world, 17 have passed. Did they reach their promise? Did they make a mark? Did they leave something behind? Will they always be remembered?
They will when you open that old yearbook and slowly turn the pages seeing people you were close to at one time. But, as always Life wins out. Even with old friends. We move away. We drift apart. We die. An argument OR a political choice ends a friendship. Times change. People change. Change is an ongoing part of this life. Though you never can think it will happen, it does. Poof! It’s come and it is gone.
The GCHS Class of 1960 had reunions at 1 year, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35 and 52. They must have been the only class in the history of the world to miss their 50th reunion.
Most blame the Class Officers. But, it doesn’t matter now. It is gone. Gone like the wind. (Hey, that would be a great movie title!).
No matter what Brian and Ruthie, his first date, his first crush (other than Doris Day) are meeting to celebrate 62. Who knows? There might not be another.
We spent a night
to catch ten years
and retrace footsteps
in the mist,
Funny, how our paths
so entwined then
have forged new grounds,
and we, like Corsicans
strangers when we meet.
We could not
reconstruct ten years
during a dinner,
over an after dinner drink.
We had so much to say too.
Continued at fifteen!
GOOD OLD GREENWOOD COVE
Old Greenwood Cove High
Victory is yours well nigh
We’ll hit the line for points every time
The Crimson and White will try, try, try, try
And, when the victory’s won
You’ll be our favorite son
Proud wave your banner to the sky
Old Greenwood Cove High !
: from Mayberry Union High-Andy Griffith Show (Alt. by BRM)
Nice look back, um, Brian.
Everyone comes out of high school with memories — looks like yours were happy ones and memorable. I enjoyed reading about yours.
Beautiful, Bruce. Use of the yearbook quotes brilliant, captures how it was then, and recreates the memories of the wonderful times and friendships. Terry (Ace) Bergeron
What a great read! Class of ’62 didn’t have a 50th reunion either!