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A different kind of history book

What’s hardbound, full of photographs and more embarrassing the older it gets?

Your school yearbooks, of course.

Can you believe that you ever looked like you do in your school yearbooks? Flat tops, DAs, “cat-eye” glasses, bee-hive hairdos.

I came across my old high school yearbooks recently and enjoyed examining them once again. I pulled up a chair and spent the better part of an hour leafing through several years of memories.

It’s difficult to believe that six decades have passed since those books were published. You know how gals will sometimes call a friend to determine what they are wearing to a party or other function? I swear that the gals in my senior class got together and all decided to wear sweaters for their senior photographs.

Come to think of it, each of the guys wore a sport coat or suit coat, white shirt and narrow tie for their senior photo. I swear that wasn’t planned.

The photos brought back a flood of memories, mostly good. In many cases, I wondered what those old schoolmates are up to these days. I lingered on the photos of classmates who have passed away and remembered good times we had together.

The activity pictures recalled numerous events — school plays, pep rallies, homecomings, proms. While not documented in a yearbook, I even recalled the time my friend, Lyle, and I organized a successful student hot lunch strike. I was never a hippie but there was rebellion in my heart and Lyle and I paid a price for that rebellion.

It’s fun to see how we matured through the high school years. Our freshman, sophomore and junior school photos showed pimply-faced kids in cotton shirts and blouses. Then, in our senior photos, the zits have been air-brushed out, hair is neatly styled or combed and the guys discovered neck ties. Those senior photos where the gals bared their shoulders and were photographed in just a drape (hinting at the possibility of cleavage) caused us guys to develop a new appreciation for the hometown girls.

Photographs of the teachers brought back many memories, good and bad. I wonder if they ever knew the nicknames we had for them when they weren’t around. One of our teachers frequently wore wide, painted pheasant ties which were popular a dozen or more years earlier. In his “honor” we named a day after him and encouraged all the guys to wear one of their fathers’ wide and wild ties. If he realized what was happening when half of the boys in the high school showed up wearing wide and wild ties with flannel and cotton print shirts he never let on.

I even felt a bit of remorse looking at some of the teachers’ and administrators’ photos. Hopefully, they had a forgiving spirit.

The photos of the school buildings were fun to see. Only a few of the buildings in which I attended classes still stand, so photos and memories are all that’s left.

Carrying even more sentimental weight than the photos are those crazy autographs on the blank pages at the front and rear of the books. We apparently wrote about what was dear to us at the time. From the autographs in my yearbooks, what was dear to us at the time were the times we got in trouble with the teachers, girls, the anticipation of graduation, girls, cars, girls, friendship and girls.

It’s interesting how quickly young women develop a motherly, nurturing attitude. While my male classmates wrote about having fun, “getting sprung from this joint,” getting in trouble with the teachers and girls, the female classmates wrote more poetically. The girls expressed friendship, recalled school functions, wished me well in the future, admonished me to study harder and to behave.

Our 60th class reunion will be held in two years. I’m looking forward to seeing the old gang again. We’ll compare photos of the grandkids and reminisce a bit. Many of us guys will have lost some (or most of) our hair, gained some pounds, developed some wrinkles. But, doggone it, I’ll bet every one of my classmates will still look better than we did in those yearbook photos.

Arvid Huisman can be contacted at huismaniowa@gmail.com. ©2024 by Huisman Communications.

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