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Days Gone By...Do You Remember?
by John T. O' Dell

High school reunions can be a competition sport. At early reunions classmates talk to each other about jobs and income; at the 30th, it's spouses and children. After that, they brag about their grandchildren, vacation homes, and retirement, while regarding with envy or glee, classmates' waistlines, hairlines, and wrinkle lines.

With the 40th reunion comes a new phase of competition, the one described by Woody Allen when he said, "Ninety percent of life is just showing up!"

It is said there are three ages of life: youth, middle age, and "You haven't changed a bit," but change is the name of the game. Consider what happened:

We were before penicillin, polio shots, antibiotics, Frisbees, and hula hoops. Before frozen food, Dacron, Xerox, Kinsey. We were before credit cards, ballpoint pens, and disposable razors. For us, time sharing meant togetherness, a chip meant a piece of wood, not computers; hardware meant hardware, and software wasn't even a word. We were before Alaska and Hawaii became states and before the Astrodome. The nearest major league teams were in Saint Louis and Cowboys rode horses.

We were before the "pill," the white wine craze, disposable diapers, the Beatles, and Elvis. Cars even had running boards, remember? FM radio, TV, tape recorders, electric typewriters, word processors, Muzak, disco dancing--were before our time--and that's not all bad!

We were before pantyhose, bikinis, permanent press, ice makers, dishwashers, electric blankets, electric hair rollers, and microwave ovens and air conditioning, except at the movies.

At Celeste, girls never wore slacks to school, even if they walked in freezing weather. Blue jeans were worn outside of school--usually rolled up to right below the knee. Girls loved wearing boys' shirts tied around their waist, but boys were boys--they wouldn't have thought of wearing gold neck chains. The only chains boys wore were pocket key chains. Sloppy Joes were sweaters, not something you ate. A shrink was what happened to your new shirt after it was first washed.

Closets were for clothes, not from coming out of, a book about two young women living together in Europe could be called "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay." Bunnies were small rabbits and rabbits were not Volkswagens. Girls wore Peter Pan collars and thought a deep cleavage was something butchers did.

When we were Celeste students, pizzas, frozen orange juice, instant coffee, yogurt, and McDonald's were unheard of. Fast food was what you ate during lent.

"Making out" was how you did on an exam. Grass was sowed, cokes was something you drank, pot was something you cooked in. We were before day care centers, house-husbands, babysitters, and dual careers in marriage.

There were five and ten cent stores where you could buy items for a nickel and a dime; an ice cream cone was only a nickel, and five cents could mail one letter and two post cards.

If anyone in our day had asked us to explain CIA, NATO, UFO, NFL, JFK, LBJ, BMW, ERA, or IUD, we'd have said, "Alphabet soup!" We were not before the difference between the sexes was discovered, but we were before sex change. We made do with what we had. We still knew that you needed to be married to have a baby.

If anyone had said girls would attend A&M, we'd have thought, "How absurd!" Rice was an Institute, not a University, and "Hook 'em Horns" looked like an obscene gesture!

No. Let's think of some of the wonderful things we did have. Our mothers worked at home. Daddy brought home "the bacon," the doors to our homes could be left unlocked. Girls wore hats, white gloves, girdles with garters on them, and blue gym bloomer suits for PE. They wore stockings with seams up the back that were never straight. Boys had crew cuts and some wore pants with pleats and double-breasted coats.

We went to silent movies or to the drug stores just to be seen. Ate hamburgers on our splurging dates at what we called the drive-ins. Celeste was a small town and so-called Main Street ended at the railroad depot. Kids who lived out in the country came to Celeste High, and that was the only "bussing" to school. We were before Interstate Highways, shopping centers, paved roads, or any building taller than two stories.

We played thick seventy-eight RPM records with needles that always scratched. Listening to the radio was our favorite pastime. We listened to Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Fibber Magee and Molly, and Amos and Andy. Girls swooned over Rudolph Valentino and Ronald Coleman. The boys ogled pin-up pictures of Clara Bow, Lillian Gish, and Janet Gaynor. We lived through war rationing and never thought we were denied. We knew a mustang was a horse while Jack-in-the-Box was a child's toy, and all phones had cords.

We weren't always angels. We got into mischief, too. Drug stores were where kids loved to "hang out"--that is until the manger ran them out. Remember Halloween when the boys had a craze for turning over outhouses, and the time when someone tied a cow in the principal's office?

We went to school only eleven years. Everyone after 1946 got caught in the twelve-year system. We graduated young, but we thought we were so old and quite mature.

We are so corny; we like high school reunions and love seeing all our friends. We feel blessed to have grown up during a very "special" time. We hope everyone feels the same way!

The Greatest Celeste Reunion? You bet! At least until the next one! (With acknowledgements of the ideas of many)

John T. O' Dell
Fort Worth, Texas

(September 5, 1985, The Wolfe City Mirror)

Submitted by Sarah Swindell

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