Graduation 1964 reunion 1994

How is it even possible that I graduated from high school 50 years ago? But the fact is that time marches on, and my class is now close to 70. Having lived in Virginia for 45 years, my friends here cannot comprehend a high school as big as PSH. There were 767 graduates in my class, and the high school held only 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. We were the first year of the baby boomers and there were a lot of us.  Our graduation was held in the 10,000 seating of The Public Auditorium.  At graduation, I didn’t even know those that walked near me.

For me, PSH was a blessing! A high school a blessing some might ask. WHY? The answer is that I was bullied in junior high school: Hillcrest Junior High. Having moved from Schaaf in the middle of the 8th year, this gangly, teenager with acne and not the perfect teeth stood out like a sore thumb. To add insult to injury, the bullying started at my new church and extended to school from there. It was terrible! Name calling, pulling out chairs in cafeteria, squished egg salad in my Latin book, a horrible nickname, and walking on the other side of the hall like I had ebola was just some of the indignities. At least they didn’t extend after hours like the poor bullied children face today. It was a life changing experience, and the outcome was a story that was in a graduate school project, and will be a book this winter. In this pet parable a girl and her dog walked to a church cemetery everyday to pray and cry because her life was miserable. In that parable, the moral was, “Spell it forward or backward, God is still man’s best friend.”

So I welcomed this huge high school. My strategy was get lost in the shuffle and so I did. I kept a low profile, had a few close friends and that was it. I belonged to the future nurses club and biology club. In such a big high school, the only people I actually saw were the H’s in homeroom, and the college prep kids in class, and my friends. The bullying came to an abrupt halt, and I was relieved.

Boys for the most part ignored me completely. I was not shy, but it seems like I was very successful in fading into the woodwork. Because I was a late bloomer, I only went out on a date in high school several times with an old family friend. I did not get to attend any of the big dances or any of the proms. As my life unfolded, there didn’t seem to be a good chance to attend a reunion until the 30th.

Graduation 1964 reunion 1994-1

1994

I thought then, what if I see my tormentor.  What would I say to him? And having come into my own by that time in my life, I wouldn’t let it go. I thought the same thing this time. What if I saw him again? And some of the torturer girls too? Well, he did not attend either  reunion, and I didn’t recognize any tormentor girls at either reunion so all was well. I think I would have said to them, I hope that your own children didn’t torment kids too and your grandchildren either. I know I have already told my grandchildren how bad it is to be on the receiving end of bullying. I had a feature in the local paper about the subject.

The only real torture I experienced in high school was gym class. Apparently, the establishment just didn’t get it that some of us were not the athletic type. And frankly, the gym leaders did their best for the establishment, but it was not a pleasant experience. In fact as a senior, to get a C in gym, students had to climb half way up a rope. Now, I was not going to let stupid gym class drag down my average, but I was too weak to climb a rope. I had to improvise. When the teacher wasn’t looking, I had a friend, get down on her knee so I could stand on it, and she could give me a boost. Mission accomplished.

I have to say that it gave me a little pleasure to see some of those gym leaders and cheer leaders with a few extra pounds by the 30th reunion. I don’t think any of them realized how much a person like me hated gym class.

For the most part, this high school gave us a good education. There were some deficits. High school chemistry was my nemesis. Never good in math, I just didn’t get it. However, the teacher gave standarized tests, and one could get a C by just guessing. Well, that was fine for getting through high school with three C’s gym, algebra II and chemistry, but awful when I got to college chemistry in nursing school. Oh boy, the instructor freaked because three of us did not know how to balance an equation and had to be tutored to catch up to the beginning of college chemistry.

My elective in high school served me well: typing. I actually took it twice. Who would know that everyone would use typing everyday of their life when computers came into our lives.

The high school put in a new class in our senior year which was a correlation between art, music, and literature. That was definitely the beginning of my love of the liberal arts. I took a detour with my career in nursing, and was glad to end up with a degree and then an advanced degree in the liberal arts to teach various subjects in a community college.

However, nursing in combination with liberal arts helped me immensely with my writing about medical subjects. To this day, if you google Steve Jobs and Marilyn Lloyd, it takes you straight to my blog. I write a lot about integrative medicine which has kept me alive for 18 years.

Like our yearbook pointed out, the big thing that happened during our senior year was the assassination of President Kennedy. Each one of us would have been in a class that day. I was a biology lab assistant that time in the afternoon. That memory is seared into our neurons.

All this background, and I am just getting to the 50th Reunion. My cousin went with me, a Rhodes graduate, for moral support. I was sitting with a small circle of friends. Ironically, my husband could not attend the 30th reunion with me, and I asked Dan Wagner to dance. He was brought to this reunion by Lowell my friend, so we got to dance again. I missed having a chance to catch up on people’s bios and the pictures taken of everyone.

After all was said and done, I think my fading into the wood work in high school worked too well, because not that many people at this reunion even knew me except for some of the H’s. Somehow, the last one had more people I knew. Ellen was there, and I hope to meet up with her in Virginia sometime.

I know that no one recognized me with long hair for sure. It was good to at least get to thank one Vietnam hero. I was surprised to learn that no one in our class died over there, because certainly 58,000 of our generation did.

A big thanks to everyone who did the organizing. The food was great.  Next time they might need an elevator to get people more comfortably in the room. Which leads me to the dancing.

With ankle and feet arthrits, dancing is difficult, but then the DJ played “That Ol’ Time Rock and Roll”. I was going to dance if I couldn’t walk the next day, but it was fast, so I had to hold onto the support beam to do it. I told my children I did a pole dance at my reunion. I wish my cousin had gotten a picture of that.

I did enjoy dancing with Dan again.IMG_2608

It occurred to me after I was going over all the details of the reunion, that the reunion was like a “Happy Days” reunion.  A “Fonz” type was sitting at our table : one of the cool kids with a fast car and that curly front hair do in high school.  The Richie type, the well loved kids were there, as well as the well represented Joanie’s, Potsie’s and Ralphs.  A sixties high school was definitely for the most part, “Happy Days.”

So thank you classmates for the memories. I thank all of those people that were kind to a wall flower type in high school, people like Marty Wolf, James Noble, and James Horvath. The girls were too numerous to mention. It is always sad to look at that growing memorial list. But to those of us who attended, it seemed to be a good time had by all.   I told my family all about the reunion and my step grandson said it best:  “Oma, it doesn’t matter that you kept that low profile in high school, and not that many people knew you.  It was what you did with the last 50 years that counts!”  That put it all into perspective.  Til, the next time. . . .

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