How I enjoyed writing all of this down, taking a trip back through a time warp back to 1953 to 1970, the memories returning in waves, spilling and forming themselves into these stories.
These reflections and memories are about growing up as a 1950s and 60s baby boomer in San Antonio, Texas. These first two decades set a standard for the rest of my life. My generation passed through the new prosperity and hope of our conventional childhoods of the 1950s into one of the most turbulent and changing decades of that century: the fabled 1960s with its abandonment of all the rules and mores of generations past.
I come from a large and garrulous family who loved nothing better than to sit around and talk to each other. I was the listener, soaking up the stories and observing my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and classmates. Many of their stories appear in what follows.
For years, the memories took up shelf space in my head. It was not until 2011 that I had reason to start dredging them up. This was the year that the graduating class of MacArthur High School in northeast San Antonio held its 40th reunion. Several months before the actual event, a class website was set up where we all joined and updated each other on what had happened to us during the last 40 years.
This was great fun. We all read about the awesome successes: those classmates who had become the doctors, lawyers, psychologists, Silicon Valley gurus. But just as prolific were other tales such as the girl who admitted 40 years later that she had been lured out of her house by so called “friends”, beaten and left in the street. Another had posed in the nude for art classes in her poorer days, and had a husband who had passed away while she was cooking dinner. Then there was the talented high school band musician who got disgusted with his post college job as a high school band director, chucked it all and drove to NYC with his meager belongings packed in his car, and made a huge success of himself in the music scene.
An important part of the website was a kind of “miscellaneous memories” section where classmates could post about almost anything: favorite teachers, or the ones who scared them, drill squad or bus drivers etc. I found myself posting a few random memories about my challenging middle school years, my first car and the experience of driver’s ed.
To my surprise, my classmates loved what I wrote, claiming that it “jolted” them back into high school and earlier, and that my little stories were a “gift” to them.
With such encouragement, I kept on rolling, covering everything from sleeping in hair curlers to produce my “Texas big hair” to that first high school football game. If I went through a long lull without writing anything up, I got prodded by Jenice, our former varsity cheerleader.
Didn’t everyone have such memories? I learned otherwise.
I discovered I could dredge up detailed memories that most people could not, and my former classmates loved taking trips back in time with me. Now there were several classmates who joined me in sharing their memories and I have done my best to weave their stories too into this narrative.
For the most part, I kept away from the autobiographical side, trying to concentrate on what might have the most interest to the most people. I was painfully shy and rather invisible all during my public school years. Who would be interested in reading about me?
I began mulling over the fact that I was born and raised in two of the most turbulent and fast changing decades of the 20th century. I was a baby boomer. My memories were a lot of peoples’ memories. I was born in 1953 and graduated high school in 1971. I attended college in one of the most changing and permissive environments up to that time. That pretty much covered the whole two decades. I chunked both personal and social history into the posts that follow. I couldn't cover everything, nor would I want to, but I covered as much as I could!