Every so often, when I am feeling particularly mortal, I pick up my high school yearbook and look at the other 900 some odd faces of my confreres at Forest Hills High School – circa 1955. As I write that number and understand that it is fifty five years ago, I marvel that I am even still around. At least two of you on this list graduated with me and will understand the specifics of what I am going to say.
We have all gone on our individual merry ways. The faces in the book have aged, as would be appropriate for those in their early 70’s. Somehow, the memories are as fresh today as they were at the moment of graduation on that hot day in June at Forest Park. Funny how you don’t understand how many of those faces are integrated into the fabric of your life without even knowing it.
I see Pete’s face and wish that I could talk to him and tell him that his constant quest for the answers to tests ( with concomitant threats) made me a stronger person. I was never the tallest or structurally larger than most of the kids in my class. After all, I was about two years younger than most of them. There was some stubborn streak about my hard earned knowledge that I did not want to give away. Not that I was a great student, but I really studied hard and Pete didn’t.
Siggie’s face reminds me that I never got beat up in high school because Sig was my friend and sometime protector. He was a person of prodigious strength and physical capability. I actually spoke to him a few months ago to reconnect and find out what his life was life after high school. He was a terrific baseball player, with a rifle arm and a the ability to hit the ball over 400 feet in high school. He actually had an entire Spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He told me that he was at the tag end of a double header on a hot Florida day when he decided that standing in the outfield for the next 10 or so years was not what he wanted to do.
Then there is the face of Bernie, class clown and Yiddish linguist extraordaire, whose emails to me are full of the spritely spirit of his high school days. He used to carry around, what I thought was a rubber chicken, through the halls of Forest Hills high school during his senior. It was only during our fiftieth reunion that he told me that it was a real chicken that he got from the cafeteria in the morning.
One of our lot was a successful cardiologist, who had his patients put him in their wills. Some of them died soon after of mysterious ailments. He was accused of murder and was sentenced to prison. Not sure for how long,or whether he is still there.
Saul changed his name to Mel and is now a well known character actor in Hollywood. He comes to a few of the mini-reunions and is still the same guy that he was then. You can see him on the t.v. show Alias, which must now be in reruns. He plays a mysterious character, spy, and you never know if he is a good guy or bad guy. I vote for a good guy.
Bruce never forgets a pitch that he has thrown. He was the Bobby Shantz ( if you know who that is) of our baseball team. He is still the diminutive fellow that he was then. He has continued with his love of baseball and has won a number of senior baseball championships. He is fond of telling me the pitches that he threw to strike me out.
Where in the world in Rosalie? If you look at her face in the yearbook, you can tell that she was immaculately groomed and coiffed. She wore the most elegant of clothes on a daily basis. I guess her folks must have had some dough. She wore a different outfit every day. She was quiet and rarely spoke up in class. She had a smile for those people who spoke to her.
I wonder whether any of the predictions of what we were going to do in life came true. Under my picture is the word accounting. I tried that for a year and one half and it sent me into the service. I caught up with accounting much later on with life when I became responsible for many millions of the people’s money.
I caught up with Laurel ( pronounced LAUrel) just a few years ago. She was the person who welcomed me to junior high school when I transferred there in 1950. She is still the nice person that she was then with many tales to tell me about her life after high school. It was great to see her.
How about the two basketball players, Don and Al who went to a college called Oglethorpe in Georgia and were never heard from again. I caught up with Don at our reunion and he has never seen Al since those times.
The faces stare up at you, just waiting for some sort of recognition. The faces are so young and so hopeful. I hope that many of them found the happiness that they were looking for in their personal lives and careers. We had a bevy of successful students in our class, one of whom I believe was a genius. We have parted from each other, but I will always have the yearbook.