Sunday, September 16, 2012

Those good old (bad old) days

This photo --- a poorly exposed snapshot taken during September of 1963 --- turned up the other day and I decided to scan it, correct it a little and post to Russell's "If you remember ..." Facebook page. Just for old time's sake.

I call it, "Frank, armed with corsage, confronts a spaghetti strap." It's wasn't pretty, although it actually was pretty funny.

This was the homecoming assembly --- Homecoming, so long as Russell had a high school, was a big deal, occasion for a community-wide celebration. In the absence of a high school, it's called Fall Festival, was held yesterday I believe, and still is.

It was the duty of the student council president, which I was at the time, to crown the homecoming queen --- my friend and classmate Pam --- and pin on a corsage. Which would have been ok --- had there been anything other than a spaghetti strap or the bodice of an otherwise strapless dress to pin it to.

My reluctance to stick my fingers down the bodice of Pam's dress in order to secure the corsage pin led to this situation, rectified a few minutes later by senior attendant Donna, who stepped in to secure it firmly.

These really were the good old days on this level at least. My graduating class consisted of 18 people and we were friends --- and most likely still are, although most of us don't see each other with any degree of regularity. Two are dead --- poor Albert, who died in a car crash the year after graduation; and Sandy, just a few years ago.


But appearances, and memories, can be a little deceiving. We were all Cold War babies who cut our teeth on our parents' fear of communists, although we were a little too young to remember clearly the witch-hunting excesses of McCarthyism.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, however, had occurred just a year earlier and the potential of nuclear holocaust always was with us, although that seemed unlikely in southern Iowa. We were, however, aware that there would be fallout should Omaha took a direct missile hit. And that seemed possible then.

Two months after this homecoming photo was taken, the unthinkable happened --- and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

We were the class of 1964, which also was the year of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial and other minorities. Isolated in bucholia --- and from folks who didn't look like us --- I'm reasonably sure that we weren't thinking much about segregation and related issues, including deadly violence elsewhere.

U.S. combat units had not yet been deployed to Vietnam --- that would come in 1965, and I believe a majority of the males in my class, including me, ended up serving in that war. But that was hardly a concern for most during September of 1963.

And those of us who were gay, knew our place --- it wasn't Lucas County and most of us planned to get the hell out. It still isn't in many ways, so it's disorienting sometimes to be back.


In one sense, we were youngsters living in an illusion back then. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, unless carried to extreme. I hope there's some of it left when the class of 2014 graduates.

1 comment:

Anna Mae said...

Albert was my brother. Thank you for remembering him.