Queen Anne Hill - Seattle, Washington
Wednesday, the 25th day of July 2012
Clear, warm - 80 degrees at 6:00 p.m.
This is the Big Week - the Seafair Parade - and my marching band debut.
The preparations have been intense.
Watched YouTube videos of cymbal players and instructors.
Listened carefully to the four tunes to be played in the parade, while marching around the house doing the CLANG CLANG CLASH thing.
Walked the full two mile parade route from Seattle Center to the Seahawks football stadium. (issues noted: will need water and a place to pee.)
And the background music of my life all week has been great marching band music on Pandora - plus endless YouTube videos of famous marching bands.
I’m deep into Band Mind.
This morning I assembled the full uniform and wore it around the house.
All-white sports shoes. (Haven’t worn white shoes since high school when the fashion was white suede shoes with red soles - worn as dirty as possible - so cool then - not sure about the white shoes now - cruise passenger?)
White socks. (Haven’t worn white socks since high school either.)
Knee-length khaki shorts - plain, no cargo stuff. (Never worn a pair before.)
The official The Beat Goes On summer uniform T-Shirt - purple with logo.
The official band baseball cap - with logo. (My first baseball-style hat.)
Plus bronze cymbals (polished) and black leather padded cymbal gloves.
And sunglasses to improve the cool and hide the dismay.
Considered myself in the mirror.
A little strange.
I’m not really a uniform guy.
Haven’t worn a uniform since the one summer I was a chaplain in the navy and wore the uniform so badly I was regularly reprimanded.
But, all things considered, I do look like I’ll fit in with the band.
When I wore the outfit to the grocery store I was asked where the rest of my band was, so I guess I look bandy to other people, as well.
The only drawback is the exposed parts of my legs - so white it’s hard to tell where the socks leave off and the legs start.
But it’s a torchlight parade - a nighttime event - so the legs won’t attract attention or else people will think I’m just wearing white tights.
Still, if you overlook the legs, I do look rather fine in the mirror.
In part that’s because the mirror I use is the big one in the entrance hallway - it’s a carnival mirror rigged to always make me look taller and thinner and younger than I appear in reality.
So there I am.
Captain Kindergarten, Rooky Cymbal Man.
CLANG, CLANG, CLASH!
Ready or not, here I come.
* * *
Despite the power of the oncoming parade, my mind has been elsewhere.
Unexpectedly wandering around in memories of the nine-month period between September 1971 and June 1972.
For twenty years I taught art in a high school - Lakeside School in Seattle.
When I left I made a conscious decision not to go back.
Not because of negative feelings, but because those twenty years had been marvelous ones and I wanted to keep the memories just as they were - a museum in my mind.
Though two of my grandchildren are now in Lakeside; though my son is the President of the Alumni Board; and though I’m often invited to class reunions of students I once taught, I’ve kept my promise to myself.
Lakeside remains as it was for me.
So why am I going on August 4th to the 40th reunion of the Lakeside Class of 1972? When asked, my response was an immediate Yes. And my next response was one of puzzlement. Why?
For one thing, this was the first class I had taught all the way through middle school and high school. A rowdy bunch considered rebels by the faculty. Also, it was the class that demanded an end to wearing uniforms, and the first class to include girls. With one or two exceptions, the last time I had seen them they were eighteen - and had remained 18 in my mind.
And now . . . they’re 58 . . .
They’ve lived through the major part of their lives.
I wondered . . .
Only once have I attended a high school class reunion - my own 25th.
And learned the truth that if you’ve had had no contact with any of your fellow high school students in 25 years, it’s not likely that you will find anything in common with them at a reunion.
And also learned that neither you or they will be much different from the persons you all were in high school - just the costumes and bodies will have changed.
So I didn’t go to my 50th - let that history be.
On the other hand, for a teacher, reunions are awkward.
People you remember as kids will have become peers.
Once you were the adult with experience - now they are.
Once you were privy to their personal daily lives - now they are strangers.
Their history and yours were once parallel - now they are oblique.
So, except for idle curiosity, why should I go?
Wondering what was going on in 1971-72, I went for a history trip.
And realized that period marked a great upheaval in American history and American culture. A time of intensity - high highs and low lows.
The graduating class lived through that time and on into the next major phase of human endeavor.
If they didn’t know it then, they know it now.
This was a time before personal computers, e-mail, I-phones, Face Book,
and all the rest of the electronic revolution. Nothing they owned was made in China. The USSR still represented nuclear destruction. The View Nam War continued and the anti-war protest was in high gear, along with the Civil Rights struggle.
The first hand-held pocket calculator - the HP55 - made its debut - and caused a row at Lakeside which would not allow its use in the classroom.
Though Nixon had been re-elected in a landslide, Watergate was about to destroy him and forever reduce the respect for the power of the presidency.
The Olympics were marred by the massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich.
Apollo landings on the moon - 13, 14, and 17.
First video game - Pong.
The south tower of the World Trade Center was topped out.
Disney World Opened in Orlando.
The voting age was lowered to 18.
The music: Led Zeppelin, ABBA, The Eagles, Simon and Garfunkle, Elton John
Monty Python was huge.
Gas was 55 cents a gallon.
The Dow was at 890 at the end of 1971 and finally rose over 1,000 in 1972.
The Godfather was the big movie.
I wonder how much of that played a part in the life of a high school senior.
So I’m going to their reunion.
As was their style, it will not be at the school or on the school’s terms.
So I won’t have to revise my memory of the campus and the classrooms.
I want to ask them, “So now you know a lot about life - what do you think?”
“What do you know now that you didn’t know then?”
Sure, forays into nostalgia are a risk.
But I found it useful to look back.
For all the feeling that the world is going to hell, that our times are the worst times, that change is always for the worse, it’s useful to revisit where we’ve been in light of where we are.
It’s always the best of times and the worst of times.
As for me, I’ll take Now.
Try a personal reunion with your own history.
Pick a time in your past - the year you were 25, for example.
Google will accommodate you in a nano-second.
Compare then to now.
What do you think?