old school

   I found an old class photo recently : Corpus Christi School , Pacific Palisades , Calif. , Grade 8   1964 – 65 . I am peering out from an edge of the paper ,looking directly at the camera , beady-eyed with a tentative smile . Say cheese !

   Eight of the boys are wearing ties . Not me . Ten of us aren’t . We’re casual . I wonder , as I look at it now , if it made any difference in the long run if a tie was worn that day or not . John  X  ( they will all be X ) is wearing a tie . He faces the camera relaxed , self-confident . John was alway self-confident , energetic , extroverted , headed for great things . In high school he started the Spanish Club . There were two or three spectacular Spanish Club – sponsored parties , financed by the student council , until the administration realized that all that the Spanish Club did was party . ” It was fun while it lasted , ” John said . Then he went off to some ivy league eastern university .

   Tom X is there in the photo not wearing a tie . For years Tom was the top student , academically , both in elementary and also later  in high school . He , too , went away to an eastern university . Most likely to succeed . Say cheese ! Tom has a contented look on his face , not quite arrogant ,  but somehow self-proud , satisfied with himself . Content .

    Monty X is there , too , the handsome one , muscular and blonde . A big happy smile lights his face . Monty was  a heart throb for the girls . So was John , by the way . But , John was grittier , rougher , not as classically handsome . John made up in extroversion what he lacked in looks . Number two tries harder . Monty  just was . He was an extremely nice guy , too , humble , kind . I once made the mistake of double-dating with him , and all night my date wished that she was with Monty . I should have known .

    And then there was Cary X . He occupies the photo spot next to the nun . No coincidence , I think . It’s as if  even in a class photo  Cary had to be watched . The practical joker . The class clown . The one who in a lower grade stole five dollars from his mother’s purse to donate to what we called Pagan Babies  . When five dollars was raised by a class the class could then name the pagan baby that the money would supposedly go to . Cary had “donated” the five dollars all on his own so he claimed the privilege of naming the pagan baby : he chose Melvin , I think . He later got caught , of course . Cary always got caught . Low grades , good sense of humor ,deviously  creative , always volunteered to be ” garbage monitor ” . Garbage monitor passed the garbage encrusted , stinking , little metal garbage pail after lunch . Cary claimed that disgusting job all through elementary school .He never had challengers .

     There is Margaret X , whose mother was smoking in bed and was burned so badly in a resultant fire that she died several day later , days of agony in a hospital reflected on young Margaret’s face at school day by day , an agony shared , in our way , by all of us .  Margaret was taller than anyone else in the class . Taller by inches than any of the tallest boys . She took a lot of teasing for that . Poor Margaret .

And there is Laurie X . All the boys were in love with Laurie X . Even shy I was . Laurie had an aura .  She was eighth grade gorgeous , and gracious , and unpretentious .  No one was left out of her glow . Now that I am writing this , I hope that she made it in life , lived a happy prosperous life . She deserves it for the kindness she shared in school . Funny thing is , I see two possible Laurie Xs in the photo . I think I know which one is Laurie . But , then again , she might be the other one .

  Funny . I can name most of the boys in the class photo , but not most of the girls . I remember a few . I see Holly X , who wrote the nasty letter about Mrs. So and So in fifth grade and Mrs So and So held it up to us , and told us how terrible the words were , and how hurt she felt by it . But she wouldn’t read the letter to us . She left it to our pre-teen imaginations what the words were , what had been written . 

Dolores X is there , too . Dolores  was the one who answered a religion test question with ” California ” .  The question was : In order to receive the sacraments , a person must be in the state of ________ . Sister What’s her Name read Dolores’ answer to the class .  Grace  was the correct answer . We all laughed . There’s nothing like sarcasm and ridicule to motivate students ! Thanks , Sister .   Watch the birdie . Say cheese !

  There in the photo is the billionaire’s son , next to the photo of who I think is Laurie X . He once tried to sell me a booklet on the care and feeding of guinea pigs . I had a couple of guinea pigs at the time , Henry and Henrietta , and this kid didn’t . Fifty cents ? I can’t remember his name , but  I got along with him o.k.  I was over at his house once . He wasn’t in the class long , though  — maybe a year and a half . Then , I suppose , his father’s work took them to other parts of the world .

  And here is Mike X  , of course , my neighbor , and the guy whom for years I considered my best friend  . In terms of loyalty , Mike was up there with the likes of Benj.  Arnold and Mr. Quisling . Why he was my best friend I find mysterious , even now . But he was .  Mike is  one of only three classmates in the photo wearing glasses .

  Dan X is over on the opposite edge of the photo from me . Dan was a handsome guy , too , and sociable . He was a big hit with the girls during high school . He had a twin who the nuns put in the other 8th grade class . Now that I think of the two classes , all through elementary , they were like parallel universes . No one switched classes .  I don’t remember much about the other class , the parallel one , coming up through all those grades , but I know it had rougher customers than my class , more troublemakers . There was the smart class and the dumb class . We all knew . Don X was the brother twin condemned to that other group . I used to hang around with Dan and Don after school . They lived a few blocks up my street and our mothers were friends. They raised mice in their garage to feed to their pet king snake . Everything went well until the king snake died but the mice kept multiplying .

  The nun is in the top right hand corner of the page . She has a view of all of us . Cary is next to her , of course .But , she’s watching us all .   We used to call her Fiddle sticks . Behind her back .  She was a good one . She became principal of the school the next year .

  And there at the bottom of the page is little Raymond X , whose uncle became a famous TV star . His uncle took Raymond and me to Pacific Ocean Park once when I was in first or second grade . We called it Pea Oh Pea . It was right there somewhere at the ocean end of Pico Blvd.  Smile ! Look this way ! Say cheese !

   I don’t know what happened to most of those people . I know that top student Tom X worked for a company that raised bees . John X  married a teacher . He was a teacher , too , in high school , until he had an affair with a student , ruined his marriage , and ruined his teaching career . Dan , I think , lives in Florida and works at Disney World . Fiddlesticks is long since dead . John died recently . Monty owns a high tech company in Silicon Valley .  I’d like to know what became of Cary .

  Oh , I just realized who the other Laurie in the class photo possibility is . She’s the one who  married a professional football player and used to live in a big house in the Palisades  .  Maybe she still does . Smile ! Cheese ! Look at the camera .

    I suspect that some of these people have kept in touch all these years . It would be nice to have friends who were friends way back in elementary school . I’ve run into a few of the guys in recent years . But , they are strangers . We were trapped , in some odd way , in our past shared experience . It was almost as if the eighth grade class photo had suddenly strangly come to life . How have you been for the last forty-seven years ?  ? Say cheese ! We were on camera for just a moment , commenting on the old times , sharing a memory or two . Craig X and I cleaned out a school storage room once . Craig was afraid of dark corners . And then what ? Do I want to know if he’s still afraid of dark corners ? I remind him that he told me when we were ten that  ever since he’d been  bitten by a spider he had been afraid of dark corners . Funny how we can sum up a life in one memory . Straighten your tie , Craig ! Smile . Good .

  Say cheese ! You’ll be a one-dimentional on- paper person soon  again . Nice to see you , in a way . Take your place again on the page . Look at the camera . Smile .

   I want to think that someone else from the class is somewhere looking at the class photo , too , wondering who those kids are , what became of them , how did those days and those people affect who I am now ?  I smile at some of the memories the picture stirs up in me . Smile ! Say cheese !


Filed under humor

7 responses to “old school

  1. I spelled demension as ” demention ” and corrected it . I think that it’s correct now . Maybe not . But then I thought : demention is a good word , too . I will demention ( fill in the blank ) in my next post .

  2. Barbara Martini Laubacher

    Just ran across this and enjoyed reading your thoughts about our classmates and seeing their 8th grade pictures. I own a different picture since I was in the other class. Your memory of Laurie P. is spot on. Some of the others you may have a bit confused. I think “Raymond” is really Jerry and the guy whose Dad worked for the billionaire isn’t next to Laurie, but to Rosie. Then again after all these years I may have them a bit confused. After all, I was in the dumber class with the troublemakers. Enjoyed your update on their lives, except hearing about John, although I knew he had died. Funny, I recall him being in my 8th grade class, but there he is in your picture. Anyway, thanks for the memories and I hope the years have been good to you as they have been to me.
    Barbara M.

    • Barbara ,
      Thanks for the comments . No doubt I am somewhat confused . That was certainly a long time ago , eh ? Great to hear that things have gone well for you —- for me too . Thanks for the interest and your kind compliment .

  3. Anonymous

    Hey, who’s that impersonating me? There can only be one J. N. Moore who went to that school, and it wasn’t me who left that reply, although it does sound exactly like something I would say. Mother Mary Fridolin was a ball of fire, but very nice. But my favorite was Sister Carmel Mary. She even played kickball with us sometimes.

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