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September 13, 2012 7:55 am

The Amend Corner: Old and new

Written by Don Amend

There’s nothing like a reunion to make you think about the past.

Oddly enough, such a gathering is also inducive to thinking about the present as well.

Last weekend, I celebrated just such a reunion along with a number of others who had graduated from that other orange-and-black clad 3A high school in the Big Horn Basin about 90 minutes south of here in 1962.

During the affair, I recalled incidents as far back as the third grade — my first year in Worland. Another Don and I talked about the time he had broken his foot during a fourth-grade game of tackle football, an incident that led to the banning of tackle football at school, which was probably a good idea, since we were playing on a hard dirt playground sparsely covered with gravel and with chain-link fences for goal lines.

We also talked about the teacher who thought she would distinguish among three guys in the class named Donald by naming us Donald, Don and Donnie. (I’m not sure what she would have done had the fourth Donald in the class had been assigned to her  as well.) Don was quick to request that he be called Don, and in the ensuing name-calling, I ended up with Donnie, which nobody had ever called me. Fortunately, I was transferred to the class across the hall, since I don’t think I ever would have answered to Donnie.

Scott and I recalled an incident at the other end of the school experience during the Senior Class play. During Act I, Scott spiced up his entrance by pulling out a cigar and lighting it, causing a good deal of laughter from the audience. When a third member of the cast looked in my direction, all he could  see was a cloud of smoke, which caused him to join the laughter and delay the action for a minute or so.

At another point, I said hello to Sue, who had lived next door to me but had moved away midway through high school. I hadn’t seen her since, but as I said hello, I remembered that she had been rather outnumbered by the crowd of boys that lived in the immediate neighborhood, and that we had frequently teased her as we walked home from school or saw her around the neighborhood.

“I remember we were pretty mean to you,” I said.

She laughed and agreed, “You were.”

“Well, I apologize for the mean things we said,” I said.

Laughing harder, she said, “Well, it was 50 years ago.”

And so it was, and the half century since 1962 was a much more common topic than those four years way back then. We learned about others’ families, careers and experiences. We missed those who weren’t able to be there and remembered those who are gone, and we enjoyed each other’s company.

Most important, we talked about where we all are today.

Personally, I found myself reflecting on the way the world is now, compared to what it was like then. I looked at old pictures of the all-male FFA in the yearbook and the sports pages devoid of pictures of girls and thought about the hours I have spent covering girls competing hard in swimming and volleyball and the pictures I have taken of girls being installed as FFA president.

I looked at the yearbook staff picture and the old sheet film camera I used as a member of that staff and remembered how much fun it was to use, but how much easier it is to take a good shot digitally today. The memory video produced by two of my classmates was fun to watch, but it was also an amazing product, and the DVD copy I brought home would have been science fiction fantasy back in 1962. And as I rode home, I contemplated the airbags that protect me in my car now and remembered that, back in ’62, the big new safety feature in cars was the padded dash board.

I almost didn’t go to the reunion. During the registration period, I was uncertain about what my situation would be in early September because of my health problems. I could well have been physically unable to attend, and might even have been hospitalized. As late as Wednesday of last week, I was afraid I might not be up to a weekend of socializing.

In the end, though, I had to go. I had to see and talk to those whom I shared those years with, not only those I hadn’t seen since then, but those whom I do see occasionally, even frequently. All of them, in one way or another, are part of my life and what I have become, and it was good to reacquaint with them.

I spent way too much time on my feet during the event, and I’m paying for it this week, but I had a good time.

I’m glad I went.

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