Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My High School Reunion

This past weekend I went back to my hometown, Newberry, SC, for my high school reunion. About three or four years ago all of the classes of the sixties combined for one big reunion. It worked great, there was a large turnout, it was fun, and I got drunk. The committee decided to do it again this year. There was another large turnout, this time I took Nancy with me, I danced more, and I didn't get as drunk. By the way, I made it through the weekend without smoking, and today is day 14 of the "Quest To Quit"!

I spent some time on Saturday afternoon before the big dance at the country club, riding around my old neighborhood and checking out what was left of my "stomping grounds." Way too many changes to talk about, but as I drove past what used to be, the memories came flooding back. Each memory serving to remind me once again, how lucky I was to grow up in this small little town.

I didn't have a car my freshman year in high school so the only way for me to get to school was to ride the big yellow school bus...or walk. The fact that not nearly enough people recognized it at that time, I was, even at that young and awkward age, cool. The big yellow school bus was not an option for me...I walked.

To get from my house on Caldwell Street to Newberry High on Nance Street, I had to walk down Caldwell Street, 9/10 of a mile to Main Street. Then cross over Main and continue another 7/10 of a mile to Speer Street, go left for one block to Nance Street, a right and a couple of blocks up on the left was good ole Newberry High. Just over 1.6 miles, hot or cold, rain or shine, I walked. (Well ok, maybe I did ride that funkin bus a few times when it rained, I was cool .. not stupid.)

About once a week on my walk home from school I would stop at the corner of Main and Caldwell and pop into Rose's Five & Dime. In those days almost every town of any size in the South had at least one Five & Dime on their Main Street. Five & Dimes were the same everywhere. They had that wonderful smell to 'em; they smelled like popcorn and chewin' gum rubbed around on the bottom of a leather sole shoe. I'd stop in to flip through the discount 45 rpm record bins in hopes of finding some of that soul music they played on our local AM station, WKDK 1240 on your radio dial. Every once in a while I'd get lucky and find a record I'd always wanted all my life for .59 cents. No matter the weather, what happened bad at school that day or what fate awaited me at home, when that happened, it was a great day.

I saw lots of folks from those years that I hadn't seen in a while. Some I hadn't seen in twenty or twenty-five years or more. It was nice to see them all one last time. But to be honest, for me, there was just barely enough fun and barely enough memories to take away, for the night not to be a total disappointment. It was very apparent that the years are catching up with the large majority of those folks. Yea, this one was about as good as it will ever be. I've been to every Newberry High reunion that I've known about over the last 42 years...but I don't think I'll risk another.