(I actually still have that dress tucked away in my cedar chest) Standing with me is my escort, Stuart Elkins. Sadly, he passed away several years ago due to a work related accident.
Some of my old-timey friends from Vestal days are busy pulling together our classmates via Facebook. It's a hoot! Some of those long time friends I remember well, and have continued connections off and on over the years. Some I've unfortunately forgotten, others have already passed from this life.
But, you know....we're excited about being in touch again. It doesn't matter what kind of friends we were at the time...we were just kids growing up...today, we are interested in knowing how everyone is doing. Why? I think because it feels like family.
We spent most of our growing years together. Many started at Vestal in Kindergarten, moving up each grade level until the 8th grade. There was no such thing as middle school or junior high in our city schools. Only the rural schools had the Jr. High method, and only a few moved over from a nearby neighborhood school, Wilcox, that went to 4th grade.
We were an incredible mixture of rambunctious kids. Yet, we were best friends one year, enemies the next, and in between we didn't care. We had Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. We had music class at one end of the building, art class at the other, with gym class in the middle. Boys went to shop class, girls had home economics. Kickball in our younger years turned to softball in the later ones. As is typical, the non-athletic students coveted to be on the team with the best athletic student. There were boyfriend crushes, favorite teachers, popular kids and smart kids. There were shy kids and artistic kids.
Those were the years when man first stepped foot on the moon, when President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, JR. were assassinated, when the Beatles were the rage, hippies and the flower child brought cultural change. Mini-skirts and bell-bottom pants, Go-Go boots and psychedelic illusions and drugs. Jesus freaks and Hell's Angels. The Happy Face. The Ford Mustang. Years of incredible change.
And....here we are....forty-plus years later.
Are we still what we were back then? Have we followed our dreams? Have we changed our destiny and become even more than we expected? Have we found failure to only succeed in something greater? Are we at peace with our lives today?
I think for me, there is still a hint of fear and shyness from those days long ago. But, I've lived my dreams in ways that have surprised me and given me joy. I am who I am because of those eight years together with my childhood friends. They each added to my life in unique ways - important ways - that helped grow me and teach me what I needed in order to reach this side of 50.
P.S. A note from the soon-to-be Grandma
Baby should arrive within the next 24 hours! "Excited" doesn't even describe my emotions right now! SJ