It was June 7, 1971. The sky smelled as orange as the grass did green. The air was a warm embrace you feel when something good is about to happen. I climbed the steps of the old wooden bleachers as did 220 other classmates. The football field spread out before us as the school officials and other dignitaries took their places facing us, the about to be graduates of the Orange High School Class of 1971.
The band slogged through our alma mater, a wistful dirge recalling simpler times. Tears began to stream down the sides of my face which I would not wipe away. Michelle and Carol, sitting on both sides, turned to me with astonishment, “No, Buddy. Not you.” They were surprised too.
What must have I been thinking? Oh, that’s easy to recall. I have told the story too many times. “Once this ceremony is over I will never have to see these assholes again.”
I was ending 12 years as just another kid who had been in the Orange education system since the middle of first Grade. I ranked smack in the middle of the class as you’d expect an average student would. I figured 1/2 the kids were smarter than me, the other, dumber. Just where a bright but uninspired and undisciplined student belonged.
My mind was on all the parties I would not be going to which I had only learned of as overheard conversations. I was a little envious but who cared? I was out of there. What lay ahead were three months of factory work and then starting at Ohio University in the Fall. I was hoping that everything had a chance to be different.