By Debra Whittington
Looking forward for the past several months to my high school reunion has suddenly sent me spiraling back in time to my hometown of Artesia. The year is 1974 and this Friday night is homecoming. It will be an exciting game especially since my brother, Stanley, is a defensive lineman for the varsity team. Already undefeated, the team is already looking forward to becoming state champions in football.
As for me, I am occupying myself with band, memorizing music and steps for the halftime performance. There is no room for error when marching because one mistake will ruin the whole effect of the program. I am also wondering how I am going to march the entire length of Main Street wearing a wool uniform in the warm September weather while carrying and playing a tenor saxophone.
We are seniors at Artesia High School and in a matter of months will become the graduating class of 1975, ready to take on the world. We are unaware of what comes after graduation despite all of our well-made plans, while some refuse to give any thought to the next day.
Cheerleaders are on the track. In the stands will be other classmates who aren’t interested in football, but come to visit with friends during the game. Finally there are the other students who just don’t care and will be seeking entertainment at a party or at home in front of the television passing away the time. They are part of the class from Monday to Friday and then go their separate ways.
Back in the present, the words to the Statler Brothers song, “Class of 57” goes round and round in my head. Written about a high school class long ago, the words still apply to many of my own classmates. Mostly it is about the average student that went on to various jobs right in their own community where they raised a family.
There are the high achievers who made it big in business and those who are struggling to get by. Some classmates are content with their lives although it wasn’t what they planned while others grew despondent with what life handed them.
Some of our classmates chose to disappear and forget their former lives and friends in a totally new life. Others, including my brother left this life entirely, dying way too young.
The song states it this way, “But living life day to day is never like it seems, Things get complicated when you get past 18.” For an idealistic teenager with lofty dreams, high school is a place where studying and hard work will give you the high grades and a chance for scholarships to college. However, we quickly learn there are many more variables out in the real world as adults.
In the chorus of the song we learn of the hopes and dreams of this class, “We all thought we’d change the world with our great work and deeds. Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs”. Such are the lofty ideals of the young with their whole life ahead of them who are ready to take on the world.
Even thinking about how long forty years is, the fact of the matter is life passes us by way too fast. In 1 Peter 1:24 we read, “For all flesh is as grass…The grass withereth…” Although we have no idea how much time we have left on this earth there is no reason we can’t live each day to the fullest. Whether I have one day or 40 years, I choose to live each day to the fullest. Solomon in all of his wisdom after trying everything under the sun to make him happy finally stumbled on the secret. In Ecclesiastes 12:13 he writes, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
The class of 1975 will reminisce and share stories at homecoming. Then they will fade away in history until the next reunion.
Debra Whittington is a longtime resident of Tucumcari. Contact her at: