Class of 1981:
Christmas is a great time to reflect on all the people we’ve known. It’s the Ebenezer Scrooge/George Bailey effect.
On reflection, I didn’t know many of you very well in high school. I suspect some of you feel the same way about many of our classmates. No need to apologize, that’s just the way it is.
I have enjoyed catching up with you this year. It’s always good to connect with old friends. It’s also great to learn more about folks with whom I grew up, but didn’t really get to know. Lo and behold, just being a Watsekan is a pretty solid ice breaker.
Shortly after we graduated one of our teachers told me we were a “different kind of class.” She said the class of 1981 wasn’t close. She intimated we had “cliques.” She may have been right. We didn’t always move as one entity.
There are social divisions in nearly every group of people. They’re prevalent among young folks. “The Breakfast Club” came out a few years after we graduated. It was all about cliques. It was a big hit. If you missed that movie, you may remember the secretary in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. You probably got a pretty good laugh when she named all the groups in Ferris’ school. Compared to 1980s pop culture depictions, WCHS ‘81 was pretty tight.
I don’t have any terrible high school recollections. Even if I did, I am fortunate. The shelf life for my bad memories is much shorter than the shelf life for my good ones. As I remember it, even if we weren’t all on the same sheet of music, at least everyone was doing something. Nobody can say our class was class was boring.
Think about, for example, pranks (the “authorities” referred to these as “vandalism”). To the best of my knowledge there was no conspiracy: Some of you scaled great heights to put a live goat and an active porta-potty on the roof of the high school. Others took to the low ground and dug a large hole in the middle of the football field (causing the principal’s voice to shoot up at least an octave in his morning announcements!). For the coup de grace, somebody else’s mischief consisted of quoting Shakespeare backwards on a window (take that East Coast boarding schools!).
So what if we all ran in our own packs twenty-nine years ago? Our “diversity’ (they celebrate that today) made things pretty cool. If we were not close (that is, by the way, disputable) - - - why get in touch with people we haven’t seen in nearly thirty years? Because: We have a lot in common.
Per the United States Census Bureau, as of December 10, 2009, there were about 6.8 billion people on Earth. Per my reliable sources, there were approximately one hundred members of the Watseka Community High School Class of 1981. I’m no mathematician (it isn’t Mr. Sutfin’s fault) but those numbers are impressive. Only one in 68 million people got to be in our class (trust me regarding statistics; I used to work for the government).
Obviously, we are members of a pretty exclusive club.
If you aren’t into statistics, think about this: You drove over the muddy waters of the
and Sugar Creek hundreds of times. You waited for trains by the grain elevator and the VFW more times than you can remember. You played on steel playground equipment in Iroquois River . You saw movies (after they hit the big cities) at the Watseka Theater. You remember the Primeburger. You can instantly conjure up the maroon profile of the Warrior. You ate Pantera’s in high school but would stuff yourself on Monical’s now – because Monical’s was the very first pizza you ate (at least in Watseka) with your family and friends. Legion Park
We all remember those things too. I’d bet we all bleed a little maroon. I’d wager we all have a little muddy river water in our tears. I’d gamble we can all close our eyes and picture Watseka’s Main Street, decorated in December, with all the stores it had when we were young.
I recently talked with a member of our class. It was great to reminisce with an old friend. We talked about the flat land between the muddy waters. She said: “people from Watseka totally understand where we’re coming from.” That was a kick start for my holiday spirit.
Thank you for contacting me this year. Thank you for being receptive if I’ve contacted you. It’s nice to see how people have “turned out” in middle age. Everybody has been around enough to know that we are part of an exclusive club. Everybody seems to appreciate membership. Nobody cares what anyone has or does for a living. Everyone seems to care how everybody else is.
There wasn’t any better place to be a kid.
Want to give yourself a Christmas gift? Touch base with an old friend.
I hope you, and yours, all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!