Can you remember those high school yearbooks filled with vignettes, ‘something that could be written on a vine leaf,’ only this time it was in your yearbook. It was stamped with whichever memorable year of your class, and held history in its grasp. In it you listed your achievements, suppressed desires, future plans and tried to assume a worldly- looking pose for your photograph.
Yearbook titles varied, most linked to the school’s team spirit, such as the ‘Rattler,’ the ‘Bulldog,’ the ‘Artichoke,’ the ‘Gila Monster,’ the ‘Eagle,’ the ‘Caveman,’ or more civilized, ‘Le Cantaloupe,’ from a small town in Colorado, or ‘El Coyote’ from Roswell High School in New Mexico.
Those days with their sprinklings of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Grease,” “Happy Days,” “Leave it to Beaver,” “Welcome Back, Kotter,” “Sixteen Candles,” had their own local cast of characters, the ones you had been to school with every day, day after day it seemed like for years on end. Then suddenly, glad or sad, the year was over.
Yearbooks were being handed out, one by one, in the gym, if your name was on the list and you had paid in advance. With yours cradled in your arm, you searched for a circle of knowns or unknowns to sit in a circle with on that highly polished gym floor. Hopefully, there was someone who had a pen that would write, or someone who could write legibly, to ask to sign your yearbook. And there were many.
Write something, anything to be remembered, long or short, some just dully signed their pictures, particularly teachers who hoped they had seen the last of your confused expression in their classes. Teachers cared about us, though. They could be stern, mean, breezy, act like kids themselves at times, and somehow, they always knew what you were up to out of class. Like who you were out with on a Friday night, how you were behaving, and you hoped the report never got back to your parents. They tried, we tried, and here we all were in the high school gym, scribbling away.
Now for the good part. Hand your yearbook to a boyfriend you’d broken up with, or better still to an escapee who you’d never had the chance to break up with. Ask someone who didn’t really know you, or particularly like you, to sign it. Reactions varied. The rule was: say something nice whether you meant it or not, about how swell they were, you wished them luck , how much fun the school year had been, or just sign your picture. It was the name that counted.
This was serious business. After
all, it’s being recorded for posterity. What follows are excerpts from
those meaningful ‘writings on a vine leaf,’ in my year book They
could be yours, or for anyone.
Richard C. wrote: “Here’s to the girl who never has anything good for lunch, (I must have said I didn’t like beets, tuna, or hominy. In truth, it was a small town and we carpooled home for lunch every day to a delicious Mom-cooked meal.)
The Latin teacher, Helen M. simply signed her picture. (She summered in San Francisco, wore sandals and a toga, Roman-style, was stern and brilliant, and we always wondered what brought her to a small New Mexico town to teach us about Caesar’s Gallic Wars. All that is remembered about that excruciating class in the lofty turret room of the high school were the words, “Te Amo,” which had something to do with love.
From: John C. “Darlink! You’re a cute kid, anytime I can be of help just whistle.” (He must have seen the movie, “To Have and to Have Not,” -- “You do know how to whistle, don’t you?”)
‘Little Moose,’Kelly R. kept it real simple, “No place to write.”
‘Sexless,’ Bill W. confessed, “I am a senior, so this is the end of our typing career.( His anyway.)
Beth H. advised, “Look for the silver lining. Keep your chin up, (When was I down? )
Duane E. said, “I’ve just met you.” (Today, this hour?)
The illustrious English Teacher, Art G. observed, . “Your life upon a wicked stage is certain to bring big success.” (Still waiting on that wicked stage.)
Basketball Coach Van W. took the team to win a State Basketball Championship that year, but borrowed this, “Remember me and when you do, remember I, remember you.” ( What we remember are those agonizing history classes of his with a pop quiz every day to see if we had done our homework.)
From: Jeannine: “I’d like to relay my personal views of you to you,“ (thanks, Jeannine, I needed that.)
Marvin S. said, “ Here’s to a girl who takes a lot of punishment from Coach W., “ (Coach W. must have commented on my attire, so what was wrong with being in style with a squaw dress, concho belt and moccasins? )
From: Geometry Teacher, Robert M. “In spite of all the teasing you get, stay happy and come see me.” (He was so handsome, charming, brilliant, who could possibly concentrate on drawing pyramids anyway? It was a miracle I passed his course. How many times have I ‘used’ geometry since?)
William W. wrote: “I wouldn’t have passed typing without you.” (How did you ever pass? You were on the wrong home keys all year.)
Class President Oliver O. always the perfect gentleman said,” You are great on stage as well as in life.” (What stage would that be? The 3:10 to Yuma?)
Bob, no last name, so you wonder. “To a good old ghost who’s been around a long time.” (He must have been in the wrong yearbook, no ghosts here.)
Eugene M. jotted: “I don’t know you very well.” (Another one in the wrong yearbook. Who are you?)
Jerry A. kept it short, “I guess I will just wish you luck.” (Can always use that.)
From Susie Q., “To a simply wonderful girl. I can’t say I like you because I don’t.”
Buck J. wrote his upside down. “Well, doll,-- I have run out of words.” (There weren’t that many anyway.)
Poe C. had a lot to say. “Being friends with you is better than eating mutton. If you were a block of cheese, I‘d grade you, ‘A,’—(It must have been close to lunch time and he was hungry.)
From Bobby T.: “Good luck in your chosen field.” (Never could decide what it was.)
Marie A. a little jewel said: “Remember me always, (And we will.)
Bill T. said: “I hope we never have to take Senior English again.” (The whole class agreed.)
Bennie F.,- “Live fast, die young and have a good looking corpse. You look better alive.”(I couldn’t agree more.)
From Sue S.: “I wish you’d shut up, you’re making me nervous. The Senior trip fooled me, we had fun.” (Were you there?)
Beloved Chemistry teacher, George C. wrote: “It’s been fun, but it’s over. (And a wonder I ever passed that course. I learned that the formula for water was H20.)
Note insert from Francie N. “You were sure dancing close the other night at the Hop.” (What are we, the Hop Police?)
Another note insert from Dorris D. “I like your Mom a lot. Why did you climb into the back seat with Jerry B. at the Bottomless Lakes’ picnic last Saturday?” (Eyes everywhere. It seemed like a good idea at the time, please don’t tell Mom.)
Two words: “Dear Baby,” then he was gone. (I still wonder who that was.)
From Marvin S. “How did you
ever make an A-Plus in Speech class? (Simple, I out talked everyone.”)
Jim F. asked: “How do you think you’ll like the future?” (Still don’t know.)
From Janne G. “I hope all our clever remarks continue through the years.” (They have.)
Dean T. “Thanks for title under my photo: “He will give the devil his due.” (And he did.)
Buck J. wrote: “Before you even think of getting married, or anything like that,-- do me a favor.” (Now wonder what he had in mind?)
From Speech and Spanish teacher, Richard O. : “As a student you have been _________. As a person you have been _____________. I am having difficulty trying to find something you are good for. However, you do reflect credibly upon your instructors at times.” (Well said.)
Georgine C. said, “We can’t help it if we fell off the date tree.” (But, we climbed right back up there, didn’t we?)
Robert C. “Best of ha ha,” (Whatever that meant.)
From Eleanor B. “It wouldn’t be the same without your jokes.” (But, I was serious.)
Linda W. asked,”Wasn’t English class fun?” (No, it was long and boring.)
From Roger C. : “I know you think I’m a heel, but I really am sorry.” (You’re so right.)
Douglas D. said, “It’s been a privilege to win your friendship.” (Wow, Doug! All we said was hello.)
David C. was right to the point. “What the hell do you know?” (Not much, even less now.)
Jerry B. said, “You had better
be nice next year.” (Why? I thought I was nice this year.)
Noel W. wrote: “I’ve always liked you very much, especially after I took you home that night from the football game.” (Why don’t I remember that night? I do remember he liked Dixie better.)
All said, some of the ink is faded but the sentiments written inside a yearbook linger on. The yellow brick Gothic-style high school was torn down years ago. Only the gym where we all signed our yearbooks remains. It’s said that some of the yellow bricks were salvaged by sentimental classmates. Maybe from time to time, they look at one, run a hand over it and remember. Or find their yearbook, glance through it, and smile.