For dear Milo High our thoughts never die,
We sadly leave her joys behind and go and find
A life thats new with others who
Once were graduating, too.
To teachers we say we cannot repay
The years of toil you gladly gave.
So we will ever confess, of dear MHS,
"Twill always be in our memories.
- Barbara Carver (Seaborn),
Class Ode, 1953
On a sweltering night in June, 1953, 48 somber seniors walked double-file down the aisle of the only auditorium in town large enough for the graduates and those who had come to share the big event. All grown up and ready to conquer the world, the only direction for this group of novice adults was forward.
On July 5, 2003, in a newer but equally sweltering room, 24 members of the class of 1953 from the only high school in Milo, Maine, or miles around met to share another momentous event. Braving the unusual Maine heat and, for some, the limitations of health, this time, instead of facing forward we were looking back.
Where did the time go? Did we ever look that young? Without our graduation-picture name-tags, some of us would still be wondering who the man in the yellow shirt or the woman with the animated smile could be. Others we knew right away.
Youre Barbara, arent you? I could tell by your voice. And youre John, I correctly replied to the fellow band member, class valedictorian and, later, scientist who designed a camera for the first Russian Sputnik.
Considering eight of our classmates have died, everyone applauded the excellent turnout. And considering the size of our town, never more than 2,500 residents at a time, we also applauded how our education prepared us for life, and the accomplishments that followed.
Max rose to Division Manager of Southern New England Telecommunications, before becoming Executive Director of the Alumni Association for the University of Maine. If we keep the alumni happy, he said, theyll support the university and further the cause of education. Bob was an educator, too - teacher, principal, superintendent, and consultant for state and national organizations.
Maude worked in programming for public television, and Pat went back to college after her youngest son died, and spent 30 years caring for other sons and daughters in the classroom. Betty, who shared her lakeside cottage with me for a week before the reunion, taught third grade for 27 years, and Irv, the class president, wrote an award-winning trilogy on the history of the U.S. Coast Guard, and spent 33 years teaching at the Academy.
As far as Im concerned, Nita, my first, first-grade friend, earned accolades in education, too. While raising three children of her own plus four foster children, she was also the school bus driver and custodian. Recently widowed, she now volunteers at both the area Veterans Home, and the American Legion Auxiliary. Others also taught, nursed, raised families, and otherwise led productive lives.
Most of us have also been touched by sadness. Several have lost husbands or wives to death or divorce, and others have buried children. After the birth of their three children, Waynes young wife died of cancer. Now, happily remarried, father of six, and grandfather of 13, he looks back on a life as an educator, coach and, more recently, a builder of some renown. Asked what goal he was working on now, he replies, Staying healthy and wise. I can leave "wealthy out. Its the least important.
At some point during our reminiscence, someone remarked that our class was long on accomplishment, but we couldnt think of anyone who had been involved in a major scandal or run afoul of the law. Though far from perfect, as a class, we felt we had made the grade.
That a good time was had by all is an understatement for the best time Ive had in - well, maybe 50 years. Weve already set the date for our 55th reunion; Bob plans to be around for the 75th.
How little any of us could have understood those thoughts that never die I wrote in that class ode so long ago. How silly some of the words I left out (above) sound to me now. But how good to go back to good things and, armed with the foundations of the past, turn around again and go forward to whatever still lies ahead.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara at aol.com.)
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