The house where I lived for four years during high school no longer exists. The ground where it stood is now a paved parking lot for the Methodist Church across the street. That church is why I was there. My dad was the preacher. We lived in the parsonage.

The church is still there, white and solid and pretty as ever, with its proud historic marker out front, its claim to continuity and care. The town itself looks much the same as I remembered it, only older and with a few things missing. The old train station is gone. It was where the whole town used to turn out for pep rallies on Thursday nights before the Friday high school football games. Trains hadn’t stopped there in years. The old Baptist Church is a ruin, but there’s a new one.

I was back for a high school class reunion – our 50th. Like the town, we were all older and some members were missing. My folks had moved away shortly after I graduated high school, so I hadn’t seen these classmates in 50 years. It’s a strange feeling. We barely remember who we were back in high school and have no idea who each other is now. There were only 33 of us when we graduated; seven are gone. Out of the 26 remaining, ten of us showed up for the reunion. Others were too far away, in poor health, or had pressing obligations of family or work.

“I’ve been thinking about how much things have changed in the past 50 years,” I said to one of my classmates as we departed for our respective homes, some farther away than others.

“Yeah,” he said. “You know, in 1966 when we graduated, it was the class of 1916 having a 50-year reunion. They probably thought things had changed a lot, too.” That added a little perspective.

We talked a while longer. He lamented the local schools having been taken over by the Mexicans. Not just any Mexicans – the Raza Unida ones. He said it was hard to get help on the farms and ranches anymore. Our hometown was now just a bunch of meth labs and addicts. Some people send their kids to distant towns – smaller towns – so they can get that good country schooling experience. Some people, he said, think about selling their farms and ranches. “But where would we go?” It was a tough question.

I felt the distance between us. Not just the years, but the disparate experiences. I thought about the old story of the blind men and the elephant. We’re like that. We’ve experienced different slices and segments of life, so of course we draw different conclusions about what it all means.

He told me about an encounter he’d had a couple years back with a “colored man” coming through town. There weren’t any “colored people” in our town. According to what my dad heard when we were living there, the last black people in the town had been lynched.

This is where I went to high school. This is where I graduated 50 years ago. Things have changed a lot in 50 years. In some places more than in others.

3 thoughts on “Retrospective

  1. Donna, where I went to high school – Plymouth, MA – has large parts that have not changed (last year was my 50th HS reunion, too) .But there are parts that have, as the town has grown, I am lucky in that my HS class reunes every five years and there’s talk of every other year. We enjoy our company and may people have stayed in town. I have been in contact with a lot of my classmates. The fact my mystery books feature some names from high school classmates and places lifted from Plymouth has helped me keep in the loop!


  2. Sounds like you’ve stayed in touch far better than I have. I only lived in the town where I attended high school for those four years and always felt like an outsider. My best friend from those days lives in Florida and I hope to see her next month. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Had a similar experience at my 50th. We left town after my graduation, and I’d not seen anyone in 50 years. Some I did not recognize or remember from our class of 75 members. I unkindly enjoyed seeing the football captain was losing his hair, and the head cheerleader had gotten fat, as had many of us. I did reconnect with some friends and enjoy facebook friendships, one of whom has traveled the world as evangelist and was the only other classmate who competed in inter scholastic speech contests. Glad I went. In retrospect 50 years seemed to go by fast.


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