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From one great class… another!

Kesley Colbert Contributing Writer

Boy howdy, if someone with just a smidgen of authority had told me and Buddy, Ricky and Yogi back in March of 1965 that we didn’t have to go through that graduation ceremony thing…..let me tell you, the celebration would have been on!

And then, on top of that, they tell us we are not going to have any school for the rest of the year. Are you kidding me!

And everybody is going to pass all their classes and move up to the next grade—which automatically meant Rollin Trull would get to graduate with us…..

We would have immediately started looking around for Rod Serling; surely, the whole universe had crossed over….into the “Twilight Zone.”

We had older brothers. We’d been to a high school graduation. Mostly it was getting dressed up to hear some old guy talk about the unlimited possibilities that life had waiting for the graduates. Just as soon as he finished a couple of the smarter honorees “came up” and added some more commencement thoughts to the affair.

Around about the hour and a half mark, the whole class stood one at a time and marched across the stage. Mr. W. O. Warren stuck an official looking document in their hand while Glen Chalk snapped a picture for posterity’s sake.

The audience was not allowed to leave until the last robed participant had left the building. It was some kind of etiquette rule.

Wasn’t it William Shakespeare who coined the phrase, “Much hoopla about nothing?”

Who needs it!

Yogi was a little smarter than the average bear. We were hiding out one Monday morning, late in our senior year, in the boiler room when he suggested we burn the school down. “They can just mail our diplomas to us.”

“Well,” Buddy chewed that over for a moment, “If we were going to set the place on fire, we should have done it at the beginning of our freshman year!”

We laughed. School wasn’t Bud’s long suit.

I think we all viewed it as a necessary evil. Of course, we railed against the regimented system, the food in the lunchroom, algebra, Miss Clark reading those confounded poems to us, coaches that blew whistles just because we were a second late for PE……

“Remember how we looked up to Bob Cassidy, Tommy Herron and Doug Paschall.”

“Whew,” I rubbed my side, elbow and tried to shake the cobwebs out of my head—from injuries incurred four years back when those three seniors ran over me, stomped me into the ground, spindled, mutilated and left me flat on my back every day at football practice…. “Yeah, goodness gracious, did I remember ‘looking up’ to them!”

More laughter.

The talk got around to girls. It always did. We made fun of them; especially in the grammar school years. That had kinda changed as we progressed. By junior high, some of them weren’t half bad.

Of course, by junior high, they were eying the sophomore boys. We were just “old hat” to them.

We didn’t laugh about that.

“Remember the fight between the parent and the student outside Mr. Berry’s science room?” It was a school career highlight for sure! He wasn’t too keen on who was dating his daughter.

“How about the food boycott?” Another highlight! And I got called into the office over that one….

We reviewed every teacher, good or bad. We “remembered” time and time again gathering to decorate the Homecoming float, Squeaky Ridinger’s mad dashes (via the fire escape) downtown for doughnuts, the Halloween dance that wasn’t, Yogi scaling the outside wall of the three story high school under the cover of darkness in a quest to find Miss Polly’s English exam early…..

Lord, it was a virtual treasure trove of memories! And the basic, solid, well rounded education wasn’t a bad by-product either.

Graduation was the consummation.

Me and Buddy, Ricky and Yogi might have talked big. But we wouldn’t have missed it for anything. You see the whole deal in a different light when it’s YOUR class seated up front!

I hate the situation for this year’s seniors. Some have had graduation canceled completely. Others have modified versions. All have been disrupted to some degree. And our collective hearts go out to them.

But let me tell you seniors, your accomplishments have not been lessened in any shape, form or fashion! And those very special, personal, one of a kind memories will live on with you forever!

Now, if you still insist on the hour and a half speech, come by and see me anytime….