Good morning, 'Net friends. Ya'll come on in for a cup of coffee and some "Do you remember whens." You know you are getting up in years when the past becomes fuzzy but important and you try to recall specifics and all you get are generalities. This is when you begin to embroider the facts and it almost becomes fiction. Now I would never do that, for everything I write in this blog is most factual, no fiction, no lies, all truth. Now if you believe that, I have a swamp in South Georgia with your name on it for $19.95 a month as long as I live. Come on in the house and sit a spell.
I began the saga of our graduation from high school yesterday and today I will wrap it up for the facts have become a little fuzzy but rose-colored, for it was a momentous time in my life. After all, I had completed 12 years of school, in the same school house, with about 32 of my friends. There were about 50 of us altogether and 32 of us had traveled this journey together. We had gained some and lost some along the way but we were a pretty tight group.
Graduation meant parties which were always fun. We had a swimming party at Fire Acres in Selma, a formal tea prepared by the Home Ec classes, a fun party at a lodge down in the woods in Coy and I am sure some more that I can't remember. These would have been alcohol and drug free parties, but believe it or not, we had a great time at each of them. We would play records on the record player and dance up a storm. Remember, being Baptist and all, I could dance at school dances for they were heavily chaperoned by teachers and parents and the "Mama Police" were always ready and willing to call your mama before you got home or early the next morning. They always called everybody else in town also so your name would be "mud" for a little while. There was always someone else doing something wrong shortly so they would forget about you for awhile.
After all the partying, we got down to the serious business of the graduation ceremony. Now I mean to tell you this was serious business for this was the only graduation some of our classmates would ever experience and some would not have been there without Mr. Dickey, our English teacher. He would tutor, encourage, berate and teach again to get some of those "old boys" through high school. Thanks to him, many graduated and went on the college because he wouldn't give up on them.
Mrs. Watson was in charge of graduation and I mean "In Charge" for she was a no nonsense lady. She was the math teacher and not my favorite for I stunk in math which made me not her favorite student, so it was mutual. She would line us up for practice and not a word would be spoken unless she spoke it. 50 excited 16 and 17 year old students would stand quietly and do exactly as she said, for we had a healthy respect for her rule over us. When she spoke we hopped.
Now I have to interject a note here, for we had one student who was about 19, I think. He struggled a little, bless his heart, but made it. We used to tease him and say he would be on Social Security before he graduated. Don't get me wrong, we still liked him and was glad to see him make it. He is a good friend and looked after me a lot. Mama said that if she showed up at school to get me, he always knew where I was. Think maybe he had a crush on me or something.
Back to graduation. We had the ceremony in the school auditorium and we would be divided into 2 lines, march down the slippery, sloped floor to the front. Then we had to go to the doors on the sides and march up to the sides of the stage and sit in the chairs on the stage. "Miss Lois" Harris would be playing Pomp and Circumstance on the piano and we would walk sedately and slowly down the aisle, up the steps and sit circumspectly on the stage. We ladies would remember to cross our legs at the ankles, the mortar board hats would be perfectly level on our heads and we would sit straight and quietly during this solemn hour or two.
We would be lined up by height which meant Harry Ratcliffe and I would lead in the 2 lines. We were the shortest and the loudest in the class, which I guess meant we were trying to make up for being short by having a big mouth. We lead them in that night with great dignity, sat and listened to Mr. Benton, the principal make some long speech. I don't remember a word he said and could have cared less for I just wanted that diploma so I could go to college and have some fun.
After all the fol-de-r0l, we received the diplomas, stood and exited the opposite sides of the stage from whence we had entered. We went up the opposite aisle we had come down so all our family and friends could be sure and see their little darling. After all, some of these wonderful family members never thought they would see this moment and wanted to savor it for all it was worth.
Harry and I stood and began to march this wonderful class out of the auditorium with great dignity. Now Mrs. Watson nor anyone else knew what Harry and I had up our long, draped sleeves that night. We were very somber and dignified until we reached the back door and then we looked at each other across the auditorium, grinned and shouted Whoopee!
Now this was the first time anyone had ever made a sound going out those doors, especially a whoopee and Mrs. Watson and some of our somber classmates about had a cow. I thought several of them were going to faint from embarrassment and shame that we had ruined their great moment. Didn't matter to us, for we 2 were glad to be through with that place and on to greater things. After all, we were FREE.
Little did we know that this freedom brought responsibility but we were ready to challenge the world. Harry is now in heaven, I hope, and I know he is still grinning and shouting whoopee. We made history that night and it was fun. Graduation was a big deal, and still is, but I do think we can be tad, less formal and I do think some of the students agree.
The Georgia Peach