Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Faces From the Past

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

I believe it may have been sometime in February that I spoke old memories that had been triggered by a book I was reading, "Soul Sisters". Names of classmates long forgotten began coming to the surface, and I found myself feeling rather blue because they WERE the past, a past I'd cut ties with so long ago. And now I found myself missing them. And so it was that, hoping against hope to find someone, I joined the Dover High School Alumni Group and Classmates. I'd looked into Classmates before, and although I'd  hoped to find some childhood friends there, I didn't really expect very much. In fact, I'd just about given up and hadn't been to the website in weeks.

So, you can imagine the shock...and joy...I felt yesterday when they sent me an email "We have the Dover High School yearbook on line!"  Okay, I knew they had yearbooks online, but none that pertained to me, so I didn't open the email at first, but when I finally did, there it was, staring me right in the face-- "Tigers Class of 1965".  That was MY class. These were the kids that I went to school with 48 years ago.  Some I grew up with. The entire yearbook was available to me at no fee. I tell you, if I wasn't at work I would have cried.  What an amazing feeling!

Page after page, the faces of my friends were all there, jarring so many memories.  Old friends, peers, some I remember, some I did not.  These were people whose lives have crossed mine in passing. Face of those I knew long, long ago.  Yes, there she was...Mary Ann.  Remember when I wrote about her?  She was the one who I ate fresh tomato sandwiches with.  She was the last friend I ever spoke to just before I left home.  And then there was Elaine whose mom had taken me in when our house caught fire.  And Frank, my very first teen-age crush.  All of us girls melted whenever he looked at us, but he'd already been taken by the most popular girl in school. Well, we could dream, couldn't we? And there were so many, many more. 

There were pages and pages of classroom pictures as well.  For the girls, it was typing, sewing, and cooking class.  I chose typing and sewing.  I remember my teacher coming round and knocking your knuckles if you were looking at the keyboard when you were typing.  I hated her at the time, but she taught me well.  Today I can close my eyes and rest while typing an entire paragraph.  Boys, in those days, took wood crafting and automobile repair.  Girls were not allowed and vice versa. Oh, how times have changed!  All the girls had these bouffant hairdos which flipped up on the ends.  None had a hair out of place.  All so perfect, too perfect.  Hard to believe that the free flowing hair of the hippie era was right around the corner. 

But not all of my memories were good.  I'd always wanted to be one of the 'popular' girls and as they stared back at me yesterday, I wonder 'what if' I had been accepted.  Would my life have been different?  See, there was a difference between the 'popular' girls and the 'cool' girls.  The popular girls just weren't cool.  The 'cool' girls smoked cigarettes, wore too much makeup, and skipped classes whenever the mood hit them.  Having been taunted and teased throughout most of my grammar school life, I just wanted to BE someone.  I didn't want to just be one of the crowd.  And, since the 'popular' girls didn't want me, I became one of the 'cool' girls.  Last night when I sat back and thought about it, I realized that even they hadn't wanted me, not really.  All they did was tolerate me so I had to prove I was 'cooler' than the rest of them by skipping school more often, mouthing off in class, and smoking in the rest rooms.

And finally, there was my evil cousin, Gary...the one who had made me the laughing stock of my peers.  He was the one who had started all the teasing to begin with. He was the one who changed the course of my life.  Had he not made me feel so inferior nor taken away my self-esteem, perhaps my choices in life would have been different.  As I gazed into his face staring back at me from the yearbook, I wanted to hate him, but I found that I couldn't.  It wasn't 'he' that made me  drop out of school. By then we hardly saw each other. I had 'choices', and it was I who chose the life I was going to live.  And although it may not have been a perfect path with all of its twists, turns, and roadblocks, it was the life I was meant to live. It was my journey, land one I had to take because it made me the person I am today.  I wouldn't change it for the world.

My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me,
or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.

Steve Maraboli


  1. Thanks for sharing Mary. (((hugssssssssssssss)))

  2. Great post, Mary! Thoughtful insights for us all to read.

  3. How wonderful that you are able to make peace with your bittersweet high school days. I have so many memories that I'm a little intimidated in looking up past class mates. Good for you!