Because I don’t have kids I’m re-amazed each June at the number of invitations stuffed into our mailbox by the postman … er, postperson … for high school graduation parties. It’s a big deal now, I guess. I don’t remember having any kind of parent-endorsed or sponsored event for family, relatives and friends. My folks were of the “graduating high school is the least that’s expected of you, now get to work” school of thought.
Now my buddies and I might have had a party out at Long Lake with some beverages since the legal drinking age in Wisconsin in those days was 18, but that was just foolishness of youth stuff. No harm done.
My mom was good at saving mementos of my high school years, and the other day I rediscovered a box with a bunch of that stuff in the crawl space at home. The old term papers for English classes still make me chuckle now. There’s one titled “A to Z of Duck Hunting”. Another is “Fit for the Firing Line: A Physical Conditioning Guide for the Trap Shooter.” Still another is: “History of the Ringneck Pheasant in Wisconsin”. There’s even an attempt at poetry titled “From Whence the Mallards Came.” My English teachers were long-suffering yet unwaveringly encouraging.
Another great high school memory was of Junior Prom night. Both I and my buddy Ken Fritz were turned down by the girls we asked. So instead of bearing the brunt of likely additional rejection by asking somebody else, he and I went smelt dipping on the Pigeon River tributary to Lake Michigan. It ended up costing a lot less money, and I’m guessing we had every bit as much fun as those guys in rented monkey suits – probably more.
Though I’ve been away from my hometown for more than 30 years now, I still have a strong connection to Plymouth Comprehensive High School. My brother is the District Business Manager there. The other day I was floating around their website looking for some controversial labor relations issue my brother had mentioned and found an on-line version of “The Orange Guide” which has always been the Plymouth High School student handbook. (Plymouth’s colors are orange and black and the mascot is the panther.)
On a whim, I decided to see if what I remembered most about “The Orange Guide” was still there. Almost unbelievably it is! On page 28 is the prescribed procedure for ensuring that your deer hunt is an “excused absence.”
I’m certain a lot else has changed. For example, I doubt I could do a sophomore demonstration speech on cleaning a .22 rimfire rifle at a table in front of the classroom. Or repeat my junior demonstration of cleaning trout for which my mom delivered a 5-gallon bucket containing 3 live rainbows from the hatchery where I worked summers and weekends.
Ah … great high school memories … congrats to all you grads, but don’t be surprised if I skip your parties for bear hunting or fishing … nothing personal … just a heck of a lot more fun.