It’s graduation season in north central Ohio.
The signs are all around: multi-colored caps and gowns all over Facebook and other social media sites and ads by caterers and deli owners and grocers looking for graduation party customers.
The dates vary each year, but it usually occurs about a month after prom season in this part of Ohio, another season that includes a lot of multi-colored gowns, but a lot fewer silly hats, and hardly any caps with clever slogans on them.
I graduated in 1978, from Galion High School. If you are counting, that’s 40 years ago.
I’m doing all of this from memory, so forgive me if I get a little of it wrong. I think we had about 220 graduates. I think it was an outdoor ceremony at Heise Park. But I’ve probably covered or attended 50 graduations in the past 40 years, so they kind of run together.
I do not remember the Class of 1978 motto. Did we have one? Our class song? I’m not sure. I think I voted for the theme song from the ‘Laverne and Shirley’ TV show. It didn’t win.
Our class colors? Blue and orange? That seems too easy, so I doubt it.
I’m not a jewelry guy, so I never wanted nor purchased a class ring. In fact the only ‘jewelry’ I’ve ever worn in my life were a few ID bracelets with ‘Love, XXXX’ on the back, given to me by former girlfriends. I also had a wedding ring I wore for seven or eight years. It, and one of my ID bracelets, is still somewhere in my home.
I don’t remember any of our speakers, although Ron Hall may have spoken. I believe he was our senior class president.
I was class president when I was an eighth-grader, but gave up school politics after middle school, following the fallout fro the Great Candy Conflagration of 1975.
Valedictorian of the Class of 1978? Not sure. I think there was more than one. I have a feeling David Kim was one of them.
I was in the choir, so I sang at the graduation ceremony. I have no idea what songs we sang. Our choir leader was Herb Krichbaum, one of the most genuine, pleasant, Galionites of all-time.
I remember a grad party at Pete Kohls parents’ house. There were others. One a barn own by Kym Covert’s family. We had a lot of senior parties. Our senior camping trip to Mohican was a big party, as was senior skip day. If there is one thing the Galion High School Class of 1978 was good at, it was partying, and staying out of trouble.
We drank some beer, but for the most part, we stayed out of trouble.
A few days after graduation, 14 of us took off for Myrtle Beach in a big van owned by Mike Evans’ family and David Dinkel’s El Camino. We miraculously all came home from that trip with no police records and no serious injuries. We camped out at a place now called Ocean Lakes. If you’ve been to Myrtle Beach or Garden City or Surf Side, you’ll recognize the name. No condo, no camper. We had two or three tents and maybe 20 coolers.
Each morning we got out of bed, usually by 9 or so, drove into town for a carb- and grease-loaded breakfast buffet. By 11:30 or noon we were oiled up and on the beach with two or three coolers filled with liquid courage where we could talk to other high school grads from the east coast.
The beach also is where a few of us sustained some physical set-backs. Most were of the sunburn variety, although two or three of us were pretty scarped up after miss-timing a wave-jump and landing face-first in about an inch of water. Sand burns hurt worse than floor burns … or so I’m told.
We hung out on the beach until 5 or 6 p.m. Then we returned to our campsite for a sandwich or some chips and a couple beers. By 8 p.m. we were showered up, covered with after-tan and cologne, adorned with clean shirts and on our way downtown to find a bar or disco or a party in a hotel somewhere to spend the evening.
Our favorite haunt was a place called The Bowery. My last trip to Myrtle Beach was about five years ago. The Bowery was still there. During the summer of 1978, the band each night at The Bowery was a then-unknown group called Alabama. A year later, that band hit it big-time. I think there is still a yellow 1978 Bowery/Alabama T-shirt in a storage container in my basement.
When we returned to Galion, among the 14 of us, we had less than $25 in our pockets and wallets.
But we returned safely, and then life as an adult began for must of us, although I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life when I grow up.
I saw a post on social media this week celebrating high school days.
I look back fondly on those days. I treasure those old friendships.
Social media has allowed me to continue some of those old friendships, despite the miles between us.
Social media also has allowed me to become better friends with some old classmates than we were in high school.
I treasure these friendships, too.
The Galion High School Class of 1978 will have its 40th reunion this summer.
I don’t know if I’m going to attend. I hope I talk myself into it, but time will tell. But I may sneak quietly out of town that weekend. If I do, I’ll let ya’ll know when I get back.
The older I get, the more of an introvert I become.
I’ve never been a big fan of large crowds or big parties. I’m usually the guy in a corner talking to one or two people. I’m even less the social butterfly now than I was 40 years ago.
I guess that explains why I live with a dog and two cats and have no kids.
Anyway, seniors enjoy this time of your life. I applaud your hard work and your efforts.
I wish you success and happiness in the future.
You made it this far. And your future is what you make of it.