Monday, February 12, 2018

50 Years After ~ my column from Sunday's paper

The phone rang this past week. It was an old classmate from high school. She told me it was time to plan our 50th high school reunion. Through the years, I’ve had many calls about upcoming reunions. But this one was different. It took a moment to wrap my mind around what I was hearing. How could it be possible that 50 years have passed since graduation? 

When I placed the phone receiver back in the cradle, I sat for a long while letting the revelation sink in a little deeper.

The wheels of my office chair squeaked a little as I rolled to the bookshelf and pull my 1968 high school annual from the bottom row. I blew a thin layer of dust from the jacket before taking a slow trip back through time.

Flipping to the senior portraits, I thumbed slowly to the W’s section. There on page 23 was my smiling face. I had hair! The younger me seemed to be staring at something far into the
distance. I wish I remembered what it was.

If you looked through this annual, you wouldn’t find me in the sports section, the Beta Club, or the class favorites. There is a picture of me in the section on the senior play. My role was Homer Hollowbone. Also, in the Who’s Who section. Under the picture of me, and classmate Jeanette Cummings was the heading, “Best Personality.” I’d forgotten that.  They probably never saw me on a snarky day. 

Looking at the old annual made me smile, but in scanning the faces, I saw many classmates that are no longer with us. Each reunion, the deceased list grows longer.

Before I closed the annual, I turned back to page 23 and had another look at my 17-year-old self. I was so clueless back then. 

In 1968, I thought I had all the answers. I knew college was in my future. Afterward, I would get a job, get married, and buy a home. Most of those things happened but not like I thought they would. In reflection, I didn’t even understand the questions in 1968. 

It never occurred to me that there would be so many curves. There were times when I came to a fork in the road, and I had no idea which way to turn. Sometimes I turned right and sometimes I turned wrong. There are no roadmaps for life’s journey, but the path led me to where I am today.  

Even though I wasn’t a stellar student, high school was a fairly good experience for me. I had good, caring teachers, and made some friendships that lasted. But high school was not a fond memory for everyone.

After graduation, I stayed in contact with some of my friends and classmates. Others, I only see at Walmart or funerals.  

As for reunions, some people enjoy the experience. But for others, they are more painful. Some wounds never heal.

Stepping into the kitchen, I penciled the date for the upcoming reunion. It will be interesting to see my old classmates and hearing what’s going on in their lives.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Goes On is available on You can contact him via email at


  1. Hey dude, you stole that kids name????
    I read the other day a simple but true statement. "The older we get the more we say, 'How did I get here this fast'!"

    When you attend the 50th, you are gonna find some of those guys have lost their hair. (Feel free to accidentally trip the ones who still have hair!) ENJOY

  2. I have a 50 college reunion coming up, I skip them, my old fraternity brothers meet every year I don't think I would know anyone else.

  3. I graduated in 65. I have had a full life but I have no idea where the time went.

  4. How I can identify with this! Sitting on the unpopular side of the gym, I'm in no rush to attend our 50th; nevertheless, those who count are still friends ... in Real Time.

  5. Don't fault your younger self for not even knowing the questions. They keep changing as we roll along, so it seems we never can know the answers.
    Hope you enjoy the reunion.

  6. My 50 will be 2019. Who would have thought? I don't have my annual anymore. It was one of many things that disappeared with so many moves. You looked good then, and reasonable now.
    I hated HS. Small rural world, most students' goals involved staying there.

  7. We were so clueless back then weren't we? Hard to believe how the years have changed us.

  8. The only difference I see in your High School photo and you now is that back then, you had hair but no moustache and now you have no hair but you had a moustache. You still look good for an old fella. Im sure you'll have a great time at your 50th reunion.
    Hugs, Julia

  9. Go ahead and remind me that I just signed up for my 45th. To say that my teenage years were a trial is somewhat of an understatement :-) Surprisingly, I feel that in the last 10 years I've figured out who I'm supposed to be. I'm really glad that I didn't know that at 18.

  10. Never been to a high school reunion have no interest in doing so

  11. My high school was hell from the severe bullying so I don't care to return but when one has nice memories, it must be nice to return and remember even though some are no longer around. We all thought we knew all back when we were 17 or 18 and we didn't smarten up until our 20s. I call this the A-hole stage:) I like your school hopeful looking for the future...the way it is meant to be


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