Thursday, September 1, 2011

40 Years, Give or Take

I have recently been informed that June of next year, 2012, will mark 40 years since I graduated high school.  That sentence is huge in terms of "bulging with back-story."  (For those uninitiated in literary terms, that's a literary term meaning "bulging with back-story.")

First, I received this news via a postcard from the reunion committee.  Secondly, I reconnected with these people via facebook.  Wow.  Hello, 19th Century meets 21st Century!  I mean we went from stamp to social networking in the blink of an age-dimmed eye!

Of course, all this contact with folks whom I hadn't talked to or seen since 1972 brought back a flood of memories--and a few traumatic life experiences--from those formative years.

There were 459 young idealistic souls who graduated that year.  True, there were many of those whom I never had contact with during school, and most of them probably didn't know me from Adam.  Nonetheless, we walked the track together, and we graduated together, on June 1, 1972.

With that in mind, these next few blogs (note the current, trendy, and somewhat hip terminology I now incorporate into my everyday spoken language) will be devoted to those life-shaping years, leading up to my graduation from Jefferson City Senior High School.

Please note that any and all names used from this point forward have NOT been changed to protect the innocent, nor anyone else who may have wandered into that era.

Let's begin where it all started. It was the summer of 1970.  I had just finished my sophomore year at Eugene Cole R-V High School in Eugene, Missouri.  Now, my family was moving into the Jefferson City school district. Three years earlier, my father had resigned his position as high school principal and Social Studies and Speech teacher there at Eugene and taken a position with the State Department of Education as Transcript Review Supervisor.

By 1970, he had moved his family closer to Jefferson City, and the Jefferson Building in which was his office. And of course, I would be attending Jefferson City Senior High School. Thus was I initiated into the "big city" school system of Jefferson City Public Schools.  I turned 16 just a couple of weeks before school started the first week of September, 1970.

I had one major school activity to which I could tie my Eugene and Jefferson City school experiences: band.  I was a trumpet player.  I went from a school band with 20 members to one with 180.  That was about three times the number of my entire sophomore class.

I went from a school in which the music teacher made me play 3rd trumpet because there weren't enough players to cover the parts, to a school that had way more than enough to cover all parts, with several students left over.

I went from a school band in which I was taught music by the teacher singing my trumpet part to me (and so I learned music more by ear than by theory), to a school in which my grades were dependent upon my reading music.

I went from a school that had such a small band that, when we marched in the Jefferson City Christmas Parade, I was asked to play cymbals because there weren't enough students in the percussion section to cover the cadence.  I declined because I was a trumpet player!  (That year, by the way, the Eugene Cole R-V Schools Marching Band was placed in the parade between the Jefferson City Senior High School Marching Band and the Lincoln University Marching Band.  As I recall, we played a lame arrangement of "Good King Wenceslas", and I lost my mouthpiece somewhere between humiliation and embarrassment, and wished I had agreed to play cymbals.)

I went from a school that, during registration, handed out a sheet of paper for the student to fill out to choose classes for the coming year, to a school that used data punch cards, and had a labyrinth of different lines to go through to register for classes.

The first day of classes came, and I didn't have a clue. I roamed the halls trying to find my locker, Rex Adams looking at me like the principal in Napoleon Dynamite looking at Pedro.

I had no idea what was in store for me.  But I knew I was scared.  And alone.


  1. Oh, boy! Can't wait to read future installments! Great writing, great story--so far...

  2. Jeannie Murphy HoerschgenSeptember 1, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    I moved to Jeff City from Dixon MO. Class of 74 to 500 some. Luckily the Freshman were all in one building but it still was scary. Know how you felt.

  3. So far I can't disagree with a thing! What you did not know is everyone else was as lost as you were!