Tuesday, October 30, 2007
50 year-old plumbing...
this past weekend martha and I drove the Mighty Crossfire SRT-6
to the Holiday Inn Airport in Northern Kentucky for our
Boone County High School class reunion. Class of '67.
I was 17 when I graduated and as you can see I looked like I wore a squirrel on my forehead.
those were the days.
my classmates certainly are some of the nicest people. after all, we were the "summer of love" kids. it was great to see everyone. my best friend kenny nevels (and his long-suffering wife christy) were our companions for the evening. kenny and I began sharing classes in the sixth grade right on through high school. (see the blog "Ludlow Marching Panthers" from April 26). we had so much fun growing up together.
apart from kenny and a few other friends, in my high school daze I kept mostly to myself. the friends I had were social "outcasts" just as I was, but because I was in The Denims and because The Denims were such a popular band in our school, I was tolerated. many years later I found out my classmates actually respected me.
they called me "the quiet revolutionary".
I was in the first year firing line of kids who were in trouble for having their hair "over their ears". I was always in trouble for my bizarre clothes, beatle boots, and "long" hair (which barely crept over my ears). one day near the end of my senior year I heard my name called over the loudspeaker (causing the usual eruptions of laughter) as I was commanded to appear in Mr. Jones' office. Rector Jones (yes, Rector) was our school superintendent. between Mr. Jones and our principal Mr. Norman I was being squeezed into cutting my hair short one last time for graduation. Mr. Jones actually excused me from class to take me to the local Dairy Queen where he bought me a chocolate milkshake! this was highly unheard of. as we sat in his car nervously talking, he finally revealed his true agenda and the reason for being so gracious.
"steve," he said slowly, "you make decent grades and seem like a nice enough fellow; why do you have to be such a martyr?"
it didn't work. having been suspended one too many times for "dress code violation" I was in no mood to compromise. after all, my "long" hair was part of my vocation. every weekend while all the other kids were busy figuring out the dating game, I was playing music for them. in those days the length of your hair was the big concern. these days it's the caliber of weapon you carry.
at the reunion martha was talking to one of my classmates who remembered this story:
he told martha he sat behind me in English class. he remembered how often I was called to the principals office and how outrageous some of my sartorial choices were. he said one day in English class the teacher suddenly stopped, took a long look at me, and said, "do you think wearing those clothes you'll ever make something of yourself? people can't depend on making a living in rock music."
and I said, "I will."
another classmate surprised my memory bank by reminding me of a game we used to play in my neighborhood on Valley Drive. it was a kissing game played at dusk by the neighborhood teenage boys and girls in which you chased each other around in the wooded areas behind the houses. when you caught a girl (or she caught you) you were supposed to kiss her. a better version of hide and seek no doubt, but much more innocent than it sounds. she said when I would catch her my kisses were the best. she remembered they were
"soft and sweet".
on the "memory board" I was very surprised to learn of the death of one of the few people I hung out with. a very strange girl named Diane Warner. she was a self-imposed outcast and best friend of another of my close friends Sharon Patrick (more on her in the next post). Diane was indeed unusual. she smoked a pipe! a strong-willed loner, Diane didn't suffer most people. she kept to herself. but because of my friendship with Sharon, Diane accepted me.
sadly, I found out she committed suicide at age 44.
I have never been able to truly see myself as a "grown up". the adults I revered in my youth were such a strong and responsible bunch. they had lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War Two and set into motion a life of ease for us "boomers". despite my parents cavalier humor they seemed like responsible adults. I have always felt more like a kid.
my only complaint about aging: 50 year-old plumbing.