I graduated 42 years ago in 1969. It doesn’t seem possible it could be that long ago. I never imagined I would be one of those old men with hair growing from my ears. I thought it was disgusting when I was a teenager. Now, it’s just a nuisance.
I remember a class discussion one time when we questioned if we would live 31 more years to see the next century. There were just so many things that could happen. Vietnam was right there front and center. But, there were other dangers ahead. Drugs, alcohol and muscle cars from Detroit had taken the lives of two kids during high school.
Then there was time itself. We knew if we survived the next 31 years until the next century, we’d all be somewhere between the ages of 48 and 50.
One kid would have been younger than 48 and another would have been older than 50. The younger one was the son of a retired Air Force colonel. When they moved back home, he should have been in the eighth grade. However, his friends were sophomores, so he just started going to class with us. The oldest was a man in his mid-20s named Skipper. I don’t know who his parents were. None of us knew exactly how old he was and we didn’t know his real name. I don’t know if he was given a diploma.
In today’s terms, Skipper would have been classified as learning challenged. There was a time when he would have been classified as mentally handicapped, but in 1969, Skipper was “retarded.”
I seem to remember his parents moving to Oklahoma from Texas so he could be placed in a regular classroom. It was unfortunate to have been placed in a class of geniuses.
He was treated badly and it’s probably about time I apologized to Skipper. I don’t remember teasing Skipper or making fun of him, but I don’t remember doing anything to stop others.
There were 18 kids in my graduating class. The whole town had a population of about 400 people. The father of one of my classmates was the school janitor. Later, he was hired as the town constable because the only time there was any trouble was at a basketball game. He was hired as janitor at a time when the school needed an influx of children or else face closure by the state. Buddy and his wife had a lot of kids. He was hired. The school was saved. He was our hero.
Raising all those kids made him eminently qualified to serve as constable — that and the fact that he used to wrestle bears in Florida. Not only did he and his wife help save the school, but he cleaned up the town.
One of his sons and I were best friends. We’d been through a lot together, including our freshman year when we partnered together to raise a pig as an FFA project. Back then, FFA stood for Future Farmers of America. That was at a time when girls took home economics and boys took shop class.
I wish now I had taken typing class and learned shorthand, but those were girl classes. I’m sure the teenage David Davis would have been revolted by the thought of the old David Davis injecting himself with female hormone to lose weight.
Anyway, the janitor’s son and I went to Stillwater, Okla., with our agriculture adviser and bought a 7- or 8-week-old Hampshire gilt. We named her for, but not in honor of, a girl neither of us liked.
The pig was a good pig and for that matter, the pig’s namesake was a good girl, but for some reason we just didn’t like her. The pig had good markings, a gentle nature and nice stature and in truth, the girl had those same good qualities. The pig placed seventh at the county fair and would have done better had she not lain down in the show ring. The girl won the Fairest of the Fair title that year.
I thought the friendship the janitor’s son and I had developed would last forever, but it last only until he started using drugs. I don’t know if he survived or not. I hope he did.