The tag on my left shoulder read, “Remember me?” Then came my name—Mary Ann Nichols Ellis: JDH Class of 1966. Without that nametag, I’m fairly sure that more than half of the people in the big room wouldn’t have known me. We milled about, our eyes checking faces first and then shifting quickly to name tags. Occasionally the face did the trick and a name popped out.
“Linda! I would have known you anywhere.”
“Bob, you haven’t changed much in 47 years.”
“Well, hello, Sylvia! You look good.”
Now some folks I see occasionally around Hazlehurst, so of course I knew them. I didn’t roam very far from home myself or for very long before I came back and settled just down the road in Pine Grove, where I’ve been for the last 38 years. I was busy raising a family, earning a living, and living day by day, just as all my classmates were. Some of us went far, far away, scattering on those proverbial winds that carry class members away from each other. Once we walked across that stage and accepted the diplomas proffered by the principal back in 1966, we were on our own as far as the school system was concerned. But some ties can never be broken.
We wore the blue and gold uniforms of the Yellow Jackets and ran onto the football field on Friday nights to the cheering of the crowds. We carried the tubas and beat the drums as we marched in the Yellow Jacket band at halftime. We competed to earn the top grades and the scholarships to the best colleges. Now that we’ve spent the last 47 years maturing, we’ve realized that those things that meant the world to us back then were superficial at best. I don’t remember who the Homecoming Queen was. I can’t even remember who the valedictorian and salutatorian were. Were we champion football players? I don’t know. How about basketball? It all seems so trivial now. I could of course look it all up in my year books, if I still had them, but unfortunately those records of my high school years burned up in a house fire many years ago. Only the memories remain.
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