Third Grade, 1953

My DH's 50th high school reunion was held this past summer. For a variety of reasons, we didn't go, though we'd planned on it. Anyway, he just received a packet of nostalgic items from the reunion organizers, including a booklet containing the bios of classmates, their updates about their lives, and a picture of the third grade classroom many of them were in together. All thirty of them.

My DH's classmates have led interesting and constructive lives. Many, many have found ways to contribute to justice and the environment, while quite a few chose to teach. His generation was one of givers - even though they were in the thick of the Vietnam era and had to serve in the military. It's as if one bad hand was parlayed into a winning game, and they took advantage of it. I must admit my admiration.Those Midwesterners know how to do the right thing, and do it they did.

 But the most interesting part of the packet for me was the third grade class picture. Most of those seven and eight year olds graduated from high school together, and their lives are open books to one another. One girl killed herself not long after cap and gown time, another died of cancer. Some lost their lives later, and like young men in my class, several came home from Vietnam in body bags. Some married high school sweeties, only to divorce down the road, and being good Midwesterners, they were embarrassed by the failures of their marriages. It's an interesting amalgamation of old-fashioned with the seismic shift of values that roared in with the sixties. I was younger then, and my high school life was in the throes of the sixties revolution, while my DH's was out of college and being drafted. Those few years made quite a difference.

I also didn't grow up with the same people my entire life. Leading a nomadic life was the norm for both of my parents, as well as my brother and me. Friendships lasted the length of an assignment, then it was on to the next school where you were the new kid all over again. While there were many obvious drawbacks (three different teachers for me in third grade, three different high schools), I learned how to be happy wherever I was. Friends and cliques didn't define me. I never felt the need to conform. I was who I was.

Yet I wish I could hear from my third grade classmates (at least one classroom) and find out what defined their next fifty-six years. How did they make it through the sixties? Or did they implode? I'll never know. It's like a wonderful book I'll never get to read.

I envy my DH his deep roots.