Updated: Aug 29, 2022
My 40th high-school class reunion is next year and so recently I've found myself searching through Google and Facebook for those kids with whom I shared the happiest memories of my childhood. From the third grade until the second semester of my senior year, I lived in Dallas, Texas but moved to California with my father to finish high school in-state and attend Stanford. As luck would have it, he transferred to Flint, Michigan the month after graduation, so I went back to Dallas for school. It's a bit of a winding road, but I landed back in California in 1978 after the birth of my son. I'd really not been back to Texas since.
Since then, other classmates have contacted me with funny stories and memories prompting me to dig out my old scrapbook. A genealogical dig into my forgotten past.
The inside cover reads:
"November 8, 1969. To Donna on her 14th birthday from Gary, Donnie, and Mama."
Beneath is taped the bus schedule for #54 Beverly Hills, and #48 Westmoreland both of which confuse me because I took the Hampton/Superior bus to school. The schedule was important enough for me to keep; the memories were not.
There's a photograph of Patty O'Grady and Susan Nearpass, countless greeting cards for birthdays and Christmas, a card from my grandmother, grandfather, and cousin Philip from August of 1967 just after having my tonsils removed that read:
T"hursday night: Get you some ice cream that good for you. Hope you are feeling better by now. This will get 1/2 gallon of cream enough for everyone. Tillman felling better tonight. Friday morning: It nice and cool this morning."
There was a one-dollar bill in the envelope.
There's a program from L.V. Stockard's 1967 Sweetheart Coronation which lists Patty O'Grady as an usher along with Debra Starks. Debbie Starks was my best friend: a tall slender quiet girl. We all kissed and hugged that last day of our Freshman years and headed off to our respective high schools: she was to attend Kimball; I was to attend Sunset, but she died that summer from liver cancer.
There are spirit ribbons from football games and pages cut and pasted from Tiger Beat magazine featuring Mark Lindsay and Davie Jones, pressed flowers from Mom's backyard, a lock of my hair, valentines, a red-rimmed potholder with a half-embroidered rooster, and a dance card from the Sunset High School Military Ball, February 14, 1970. The dance card is blank. My sophomore class schedule reads:
World History: Couch
My phone number was FE78804.
There's a straw flower from David Dykeman, a carnation from Kathy Baker and the corsage Andy Powers gave me at the Military Ball. There's the Sunset Bison student directory for my senior year and more cards. Another program, this from our senior class play: Our Hearts were Young and Gay. Judy played the part of Cornelia; I was the prop manager for Act III. More cards. School newspapers. Some paper dolls from Dee Dee still in the gift wrap. And bookcovers documenting the transition of my handwriting from bubbles to script to bold print:
"Donna loves #######" marks-a-lotted into oblivion for all time.
This week I've "friended" and been friended by old classmates from high school and college. Each has a fragment of a story I'd forgotten. Walt made a point about the importance of these childhood connections in that they validate our life experiences.
Debbie Starks was in my homemaking class at Stockard Junior High. She had deep brown eyes and a quiet smile that put everything right, and we all called her "Starkist," a play on her last name. Her mother was our Girl Scout leader. Her hair was shoulder-length and dark brown and her face a sea of freckles.