I graduated from Elmore County High School in Eclectic on a May night in 1978.
There were 77 other members in my class.
Seventy-eight members in the ECHS Class of ’78. How ironic is that?
Well, we got together – or about a third of us did, anyway – for the 40th anniversary of our senior homecoming. Most of us sat together in the stands and caught up and told stories of “back in the day.”
I wasn’t so lucky. I was walking the sidelines covering my alma mater’s game with Munford.
The Panthers lost 41-7.
My friends likely told lies about me in the stands.
All I could do was wave an orange hat in the air when our class was acknowledged.
Thankfully, the weekend called for us to get together again the next night in a more relaxed atmosphere – at the beautiful home of one of our classmates and her husband.
Then I was able to add my two cents to the reminiscences.
And, believe me, there was some reminiscing done, much about subjects which can’t be mentioned here in this column without ruining the careers of bank presidents, parts managers, folks in the medical profession and, yes, journalists.
There were also some more somber moments we shared. Photographs of four of our classmates who have died since that May 1978 night sat on a table. It was a small tribute, yet difficult to look at. These four were once young and full of life, too. Now, they were gone.
Forty years takes it toll. On youth. On health. Sometimes even on life itself. And when you have the chance to celebrate such an occasion as the 40th anniversary of your graduation from high school – something most all of us experience – you should do it. Sure, maybe you gained a few pounds, lost some hair, went through a divorce or two, whatever. But you’re still the you you always were, the one at least some in your class cared a lot for and likely care more for now.
Because you all went through that time when you felt 10 feet tall and bulletproof together. Now, you are all keenly aware that you weren’t bulletproof at all, never were, never will be.
We even had a couple of our old teachers show up. They hardly seemed older than us. Of course, that could be because they were fresh out of college when they stumbled into the halls of Elmore County High School and into our lives.
They had just as many stories as some of us did. Of course, theirs retained the decorum that teachers did back in the day.
And then there were a lot of our classmates who either made the football game and not the get-together Saturday or made neither. One classmate headed back to Fairhope after the Friday game to make sure his home was prepped for Nate’s arrival. I’m sure there were others with family obligations of one kind or another, maybe a spouse’s birthday – any number of things that could rival getting together with the people with whom you came of age.
Because, after all, life does move on. And, like those blocks we played with as kids, one thing builds upon another and things get more and more populated and complicated.
Still, I’m thankful for the friends I saw this weekend as well as for the ones among us that weren’t able to come, for whatever the reason.
You should know my heart is never far away from that group of smiling, mischievous fearless kids that set out into the world almost 40 years ago.