Fifty years is a long time. But I remember fifty years ago. I was a senior in High School. I had gotten most of the courses I needed to graduate, so I had two hours of “study hall” in a row that year. I sat there and read most of the time, but every now and then there was some excitement.

One of the radiators started clanking so loud once that we thought it was going to explode. Turns out it just needed draining out. The water in Trion is very alkaline, and water heaters, and radiators too I suppose, get this calcified sediment in them that causes them to stop working. I guess it does the same thing with kidneys, because after drinking Trion water all my life I’ve got about a hundred tiny kidney stones, and one big one lurking in my kidneys. My Urologist says don’t sweat the tiny ones, but if the big one starts to move “you’ll know it, and I’ll see you at the hospital “

We had several fights that year too. I can’t remember if anybody won. I think it was Mr. Hayes who broke them up

Most of the time though, I read books. I got a lot of them finished too. “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Dumas. “The Egyptian” by Mika Waltari, and most of all “Hawaii” by James Michener. That book made me a fan of not only Michener, but also of historical novels. I’ve read all of his books now, some more than once. Colleen McCollough is another favorite, with her long expansive historical series about Rome. Simply put, I became a fan of reading that year, and have never looked back. Those two consecutive study halls were more educational for me then any High School class I could have taken.

I also had Journalism that year, History and Typing II. I wasn’t much in mechanics, so I never took Shop. I kind of regret that at times, but never regret learning how to type 60 wpm. That skill has served me well through the years, first by being able to type my own papers in college (and charge other folks for typing theirs!) but chiefly with the development of the computer and its accompanying keyboard, I had a leg up on many people. I can still fly on the keyboard when I want to.

Gary Clark was the only other boy in that class with me that year. “Chocks” as we called him. Gary passed away one day suddenly from a heart attack quite a number of years back. I really hated to hear it. He was a good friend.

That year was also filled with some stress. Taking SAT’s, and trying to decide on a college to attend. I finally settled on West Georgia College, and have never regretted it. It was a much different school back then, with a small college feel.

The world was changing back in 1968. MLK was assassinated, then later on Bobby Kennedy, who had decided to run for president after Johnson decided he’d had enough, and had totally screwed up the Vietnam war, and lied about it to boot.

The Beatles were preeminent in music, and brought the British Invasion to a full scale victory.

There were proms and dances. Me and some of my buddies had a rock and roll band.

I dated some nice girls, and generally was the epitome of a slightly nerdy, sometimes cool high school Senior. I didn’t have my own car, and had an 11 O’clock curfew. I had maybe four pairs of pants, five shirts, and two pairs of shoes, one of which was for Sundays.

But, most of all, it was a great year. A year I’ll never forget. I was seventeen and was going to do great things. I knew it all, and Dad and Mom knew nothing. I was wrong, arrogant, and stupid. How many of us weren’t?

I’d love to take the time someday to really write about it in detail. It would probably be a very long piece.

Most of all, I’d love to go back for one last day to that study hall, with its old rope operated windows opened to the spring breeze in early March. I’d love to hear the river rushing by just outside the window, and smell the slightly “burnt” odor of the sanforized cloth running over at the mill. I’d love to hear the “twenty minute til four” whistle blow as I was walking Home up the eighth street hill, to a supper that probably include salmon patties and pinto beans. I’d like to see Mom and Dad again and tell them how right they were about things, and that I loved them for all they had done for me. I’d like to sit in the front porch swing after supper and strum my old Kay guitar until it got dark.

Just one day, then I’d come back…….I swear I would. And I’d be a better man than I am now.

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