In August of 1959- 1960 a rag tag bunch of children rolled up their nap rugs and headed off to Kindergarten.
Mrs. Elrod was the teacher, and I can’t remember being in the morning or afternoon class, but I do recall it really cut into my free outside play time.
Our school was Gardner Elementary. We were to be the Gardner High School class of 1972.
Our school system had three teachers for every grade. We progressed year to year in a predictable pattern from teacher to teacher. We knew who were the fun teachers, and we knew who were the ones who were not to be messed with.
When school started each Fall some of our students would be gone. We had the Naval Air station located just to our east, and our best friends often moved over the summer to a new base.
We grew up with jet planes flying over our schools. We knew what sonic booms sounded like and that our teachers had to stop in the middle of a lesson to wait for the planes to pass over.
No big deal, it was just life.
The first big event I recall was being in line for lunch, waiting to walk across the open covered walkway to the cafeteria, and learning our President had been shot. It was fourth grade – Mrs. Turner. Most of us had televisions in our homes by then, and I recall watching the news footage of the motorcade.
I also recall watching Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby.
We progressed down the hall every year on our journey to the brick building that would be home to our junior high years.
Seventh and eighth grades were junior high.
It was the late 60’s. Our music was played on transistor radios. Our playlists were 45’s chosen and stacked together to be played on record players. We had sock hops and danced shoeless. We had pantyhose which we bought in egg shaped plastic containers at the store. Mumps, measles and chicken pox came and went yearly through our schools. Elvis, The Beach boys, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, jockeyed for spots on the top 40.
The school district became USD 231.Antioch, Edgerton and Gardner unified. We gained some awesome people into our class, but Edgerton lost a high school that carried their name. We walked across the stage, shook hands and graduated from eighth grade; it was a big deal.
High school saw a country filled with protests. Students on college campuses protested, and in Kent State, they were killed by our own National Guard soldiers.
The war in Vietnam was unpopular. All of us knew someone who was there fighting.
Some of them didn’t come home.
We were allowed to wear jeans to school. Skirts got shorter, and fashions brighter, and music louder.
Mornings would find the Principal outside his office with a ruler checking the length of skirts. Girls would be sent home to change if the length was too high above the knee.
Our class was a pretty basic bunch of kids. The year ahead of us was a group of students who took every opportunity to break the mold. We often sat back and just watched.
Wild parties were usually beer on a back gravel road or in someone’s field. Romance was found on roads out by Gardner Lake or over at the South Twin drive-ins.
We would graduate, some would go on to college, but the majority would go on to leave home and take jobs nearby. A few would join the military service and begin careers.
Forty five years has gone by in the blink of an eye.
We lost two of our class before we ever graduated. They are not forgotten. Two nice young men lost to car crashes.
We have lost numerous classmates since then.
I hope we all get together somewhere this year. I hope we can laugh over the fact we carry a phone with us all the time, or have a computer in our home small enough to sit on a desk.
We look back and see all the amazing things that happened when we were in school, from the Moon and back.
We aren’t a large group, and we still have a ways to go.
Class of 1972, looking back 45 years; we’ve come a long way baby