Commentary

Memories of graduation — 25 years later

As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

I know ever yone asks this on the silver anniversary of their high school graduation, but “how can it be that 25 years have gone by?”

The year was 1985 and President Reagan was well into his second term and “We Built This City on Rock and Roll,” one of the worst songs ever, was ringing in everyone’s ears.

Nelson Mandela was still in jail and Mike Tyson had just made his professional boxing debut with a first-round knockout.

Coke had just changed to “New Coke” (a short-lived experiment— some say conspiracy) and doctors approved blood tests for a relatively new disease called AIDS that was starting to get lots of headlines.

Only a few college professors knew what “the internet” was, the launch of Commodore’s first personal computer was still two months away, and no twitterer had yet tweeted their first tweet.

In the Middle East, there was unrest, hard to believe, I know.

Here in little ol’ Rockdale, 15 new homes had been permitted, Alcoa was working to begin mining in Lee County, and my sister got engaged for the first time.

Doug Yakesch and Carenda Martin were the top graduates and the rest of us were simply glad that we had arrived at the finish line.

Tony Brooks and Gordon McKee took gold and silver medals, respectively, at the state track meet and, on the same day, my late brother Kevin and I won the 3A doubles crown. Strangely enough, we got some pretty good press coverage that week.

(Seeing Tony’s son Daniel Brooks nearly medal at state this year was “like deja vu all over again,” as Yogi Berra might have said. That young man will be back, I have no doubt.)

High school memories are generally good for me, though I admit never being able to figure out girls. My friends and I bonded over good music, or what we thought was good music. I skipped my first class to go hang out at “the bridge” that spring semester. (I was pretty much a nerd.) Friends with chin stubble and fake IDs hardly better than the “McLovin” one from the movie Superbad could get hold of alcohol.

The prom was held and honestly it was just not my bag. I remember wondering why I had rented that silly suit.

Our graduation speaker was Carl Marcantel of World Book Inc. I do not remember one word he said.

Afterward, there was no “Project Graduation” in those days, so it was — you guessed it — a pasture party. Don’t remember a whole lot about that either.

I remember being anxious at this new phase of my life. I would have to hustle to find a scholarship because being from a small school, coaches don’t come looking for you, you go to them. I remember knowing I would miss my family more than anything.

But, a message to our graduates, life goes on. Life took me to college in West Texas. Then life had me sitting behind a drum set and getting to travel all over the U.S. and much of Europe, a wonderful opportunity.

Life then had me propose to Christine and it was time to earn a more regular paycheck and not be away for six-week to two-month intervals. And life later brought us two awesome young boys, who are growing up quickly.

You never know what life will bring your way, especially when you’re only 18. But embrace it and take advantage of opportunities and, in short, go for it. You won’t always understand why things happen the way they do, but accept what you can’t change and work to change what you can.

I guess it’s about time for some of us to plan for a reunion. After 25 years, I’d love to see our old classmates again.

Guess we’d better get to twittering so we can relive “the old days.” Just leave the Jefferson Starship CDs at home, please.

ken@rockdalereporter.com


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2010-05-27 digital edition



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