This weekend all thoughts and deeds are about graduating from high school. It is doubtful few, if any high school seniors will read this column or any newspaper for that matter. So the graduates of 2018 will have to look elsewhere to find words of advice for future success.
If by chance a graduate does stumble across these words online, please accept congratulations for a job well done. The past thirteen years probably seemed as though time stood still as each grade slowly passed by. Once high school graduation is behind you, the time machine starts spinning faster each consecutive year.
The Norwich High School Class of 2018 is forty years removed from the Class of 1978, when the building on Midland Drive was called the Norwich Senior High School. The N.S.H.S. Class of 1978, my class, was the second largest class of Norwich graduates, having 225 people crossing the grass at Alumni Field, back when we graduated on a Sunday.
It’s hard to believe forty years have passed since my classmates and I transitioned from student status into adulthood. Thinking back it is almost like yesterday that;
The construction on the pool at the high school was just finished;
There was a cigarette smoking area for students that mirrored the one for teachers;
At Christmastime of 1977 the whole town was waiting in line at the Colonia Theater to see Star Wars. The queue went around the corner and down American Ave towards Montgomery Ward’s Auto Center;
Thankfully cassette tapes were replacing 8-tracks and we didn’t need a suitcase to carry our music;
We walked to gym class at the Brown Ave Bowling Alley;
During grade school, the population of our class required the use of the 19th Century Ward Schools (South Broad and East Main). Also built were modular classrooms on the elementary school playgrounds to hold the overflow of students;
The Wheeler Ave water tank was our canvass, with our artwork seen by all at every home football game;
The rifle team carried their weapons on school buses and most of the pickup trucks in the parking lot had gun racks;
Our track team ran on a cinder track;
For those old enough, Friday lunch was sometimes fish and chips with a pitcher of beer at the Ontario. We returned to school and no one said a thing because it was perfectly legal;
We hitchhiked without any fear;
The Senior High band needed five buses to move the musicians, the color guard and twirlers;
The Dorothy Hamill haircuts stopped just in time for the Farrah Fawcett style to begin;
Everyone who lived in town walked to school. We took shortcuts in alleys with the names of Mandelville Ave, Thompson Lane, Wilson Court and Gladding Lane where only the brave dared tread;
Many of us had newspaper routes. Some of us had two – one in the morning and the other in the afternoon;
9th graders walked among us for the first time ever and the word “Senior” would soon disappear from the name of our school;
Lucky families had a set of encyclopedias at home to help with homework;
We wrote reports about the T.V. series “Roots”. A show which brought about a senior boys club called the Kunta Kinte Klan memorialized next to photos in the yearbook;
Out television sets had knobs and buttons not only for changing channels and fine tuning, but for things like horizontal and vertical hold;
The frustration of “double-clutching” a dial telephone on the last number and having to start all over;
The telephone cord was never long enough to offer any privacy to a conversation;
We had to risk the speaking to a girl’s father when calling her house;
We cruised Broad Street when it was four lanes, talking with people in the car in the lane next to us on our way to and from the YMCA;
We waited all day to hear a song on WHEN or WAAL radio; when it came on we tried to push “play and record” simultaneously to make a copy;
The loudest classroom in school was the typing room full of IBM Selectrics;
Having a date with someone from Sherburne was somewhat tolerated, but never from Oxford;
There was only Carroll’s until McDonald’s opened.
Thank you to the class of 2018 for bringing back great memories of a different time in and around Norwich. If the changes of the past forty years are of the same quality and pace of the next forty years, the Class of 2018 should have an interesting time reminiscing at their 40th class reunion in 2058.
Post Script: For those who are curious, the N.S.H.S. Class of 1966 was the largest graduating class ever. That class had 244 seniors flipping their tassels that Sunday in June long ago.