Imperials Class of '57 to '07
We're known for our success
With our colors flying
We symbolize the best!
Persian Blue and Ivory
Forever may we stand
Ever true and loyal
And known throughout the land.
Yes, I can hardly believe it has been 50 years since we youthfully sang this song together on the "Sr.Quad". We had such hope and enthusiasm for our lives ahead. It now reminds me of that old Latin "Drinking Song?":
Juvenes dum sumus
Post jucundum juventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus...
Let us now in youth rejoice
None can justly blame us...
For when golden youth has fled
And, in age, our joys are dead
Then the dust doth claim us...
Recapturing that youthful zest! That was my motivation as my wife and I attended our long awaited 50th Reunion. We hadn't been to more than one or two previous (20th, 25th?)so we didn't really know what to expect after half a century! As the Ides of April drew near I decided to try to remember some of my old high school friends and times so I'd be prepared. My wife keeps everything. She dug down in our old steamer trunk and found my old year books for 1955, '56 and, of course, '57. They were all still in black and white photos and just pages and pages of hand-written "well-wishes" and pledges of "friendship forever". What a kick to read them again and find the pictures signed. It truly had been 50 years or more. I realized that I had quite a few older and younger classmen as "friends" and acquaintenances. I had several teachers who also wished me well also. I knew I wouldn't be seeing them because they were not invited (not in our class) or had "passed on". My favorite teachers would be in their 80's or 90's. I was shocked by the large number of names in the "In Memorium" books; over 50 out of our class of 300+.
Mrs. Ruth Hill came to Eagle Rock in 1927 and was retiring in 1957. She was my Latin teacher. She wrote to me, "Puer melior hoc anno quam anno priore eras. Opus scriptum minus bonum quam opus aris. Vale." I'm afraid I don't know what that means anymore, but I'm sure she'd be proud of me referring to Gaudeamus Igitur above. She was ever challenging to impress and I remember Joyce Keen and Claudia from her classes...major distractions. Claudia was my "personal slave" (I bought her) at the "auction" at Our Roman Day Festivities. Joyce was quite a flirt/tease but always out of reach. We met many years later at a party in Pasadena that my wife's former boyfriend had .
There was Oliver Skanse, my first and favorite Choral Director/Coach. I was in his A Cappella Choir, Glee Club and Madrigals. I even got to sing my first requiem (Faure) with his church choir. I was wondering how many of the seniors in the Madrigals I'd get to see again. Tom Richardson signed above his picture and he was the second person I met at the reunion. He had grown a beard. He couldn't find my name tag. I think I also saw Vivian Maeno from a distance. I don't think she recognized me. I was looking for Bev Johnson, Gary Flanders, Herb Saunders and Judy Howard. They were all better known through my church. They were missing; as was Ron Ferguson. Alden Baker sat at my table and I recognized him right away. I think he was in music also. We didn't make the connection though.
Mr. Harada left a kind note and said he'd miss my "long essays" in English. I'm sure he was instrumental in my getting the English Dept. Award that year; a big Oxford Dictionary which I still have somewhere. I'm still not a very good speller. I remember Judy Redding in his classes. She could write "whole stories" with her eyes. I, of course, was only into "Pilgrim's Progress" and other seriously religious works. i.e. "Screwtape Letters"...I was planning on going to Seminary at North Park. I also remember Mr. Nance, Mr. Kelley and Mr. Friedman. They made good impressions. I wonder if I always did as a teacher?
Neil Johnson, our president, stopped by our table. He called me "Al"...which is just fine ala that Paul Simon song. I saw Wally Rados come in late. Diane Beal was the first classmate we met. My wife remembered her from one of her childhood birthday parties. Their mothers were friends. She didn't remember Betty. David Baken came up to me and shook my hand. He remembered me. He came all the way from Wisconsin and is a retired minister. He didn't really graduate with our class but was always so friendly and serious.
I was hoping to see Richard Paul, David Swan, Robin Webb, Priscilla Box and Eleanor Sloane. I think they are all deceased. Too bad. They were good friends.
Marilyn Carriger-Holst wasn't wearing her name tag and fooled me at first. She and I first met in third grade, her mother-in-law's classroom at Delevan Drive. Yes, she married her former teacher's son. I wish I could've met her husband. She and I have been keeping in touch by email this last year. She has quite a list of "emailees". She was my "tall" square dance partner. I asked her if she watched "Dancing with the Stars" on TV. She wanted to know, why? My wife and I both said, "Because it's fun!"
I kept looking around for Dennis Kemper. He was my main buddy at Eagle Rock. We had emailed this past year. He lives in San Dimas I think. I wish I could've seen him again and reminised. He might have elected to go to the dinner-dance later or maybe the cruise. We had to opt out of that because of my wife's health issues. The freeways were relatively clear Sunday. We made it back home by 3:P.M. We were tired.
I would've liked to meet and talk to more of my former "friends" in a different format. Our lives and families separated us early on and we never were able to keep our "promises" of "friendship". Now, telling about our "paths" almost felt like "bragging"...and I didn't want that. I was genuinely interested in...how their lives and plans worked out? Did they realize any or all of their "dreams"? Did they "fall from Grace" as I may have? Or did they find other ways and means to be "fulfilled" and "loved"..."loving"? Are they still active and creatively growing? What has helped them survive thus far?
For me, it has to be my love of kids, my career centered on them...now my grandchildren. My wife and I are well-matched in this mutual love. They have and do keep us "young". Monday, the day after our reunion, I taught my classroom kids where I volunteer now to "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." We sang and learned the song from "Toy Story" "You've Got A Friend In Me". I told them that, just maybe, one or two of the "friends" they have now will still be their "friends" in 50 years. Bob!