The evening of my class’ graduation ceremony also marked the beginning of the next step in our lives. Some lost contact with each other,w and a few swore they would never come back to a reunion. All of us went on to varied and vastly different lives.
For my part, many details of the graduation ceremony have faded. What stands out most vividly had little to do with the ceremony. I also remember two of the speakers but very little of their words of commendation, wisdom and inspiration.
I am confident that our principal, Oscar Gladish, gave an excellent speech. The important parts of his speech are lost over the time course of my life. However, what I do remember were his comments about attending the reunions where, over time, he noticed the men would lose the hair on their heads and it would show up on their chins.
The other speaker, Dr. Donald Wells, was chairman of the philosophy department at Washington State University and father of a classmate. Today, I remember him speaking, that it was extremely long, but absolutely nothing about what he said.
Your high school graduation is happening in a far different world than 1963 and even the one in which you began your senior year. This is the case for all 2020 graduating seniors throughout the world. The rest of your life is before you and a unique or ordinary graduation ceremony will not create the readiness to take those steps into your future. You already have that in you.
We’re very little prepared any of us for this new world, that was also, to a minor extent, the case in 1963. One wisdom of the era was, “If you are going to college, take French. And, if not, take Spanish.” I did not join the French Foreign Legion, move to Paris or Quebec. Today, living in Galveston, Texas, I am attempting to learn Spanish by the immersion method.
I realize this world change is far different than anything we have experienced in our lives. Other than the impact of aliens landing on Earth, COVID-19 has affected the whole world, our lives and our futures more than any of us can imagine.
One notable quote that comes to mind is from Alfred North Whitehead, “It is the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties.”
What will eventuate in our new world with the merits of science, is still being determined and will be for some time to come. My thinking is that we are all in it for where life is taking us. The thing to do now is hang on for the ride and make the most of our lives along the way.
Pullman High School has given you an excellent starting point for that to come. It is also a very good place to go back to even though the 1963 school location has been repurposed. My class always opts to go back to what we knew as our school as that is where our memories are.
It is in the reunions that I find the most content and remembrances of our high school experiences. The directions our lives took and even those not taken, are also common discussions at reunion events. This and being back in Pullman with our classmates has become an integral part of our graduating from PHS. It is one aspect I never imagined as a teenager facing the next steps in my life.
However, these reunion remembrances have not involved the graduation ceremony or senior prom. At our last reunion, there were endearing stories about some of the outrageous things classmates did in high school. We also held a memorial service at Mike Bradley’s grave for all of the classmates we have lost.
It is in the individuals we have become where our reunions have bound the Class of 1963 as a group. This is what brings us back to Pullman. Our last reunion was thoroughly enjoyed and just as importantly, plans were started for the next one.
I wish all of the PHS Class of 2020 well in your future lives.
And always remember: I don’t know is a correct answer, sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards and finally, when all else fails, read the directions.
Susan Drake lives in Galveston, Texas. At left is her Pullman High School yearbook photo from 1963.