A baby boomer’s journey of the heart
Each time I think of our impending 50th class reunion, I take a trip down memory lane and bring myself back to our high school days from the mid- to the late 1960s. As baby boomers, we came of age around that time, an awkward time in our life when we were no longer children but not quite adults.
Going back to half a century is not easy because my memory is not as sharp as it used to be. But these memories are simply unforgettable….
When I first entered high school feeling both excited and nervous. Excited, because I was stepping into the threshold of a whole new experience; nervous, because I had misgivings about what it would be like—would the subjects be difficult, the teachers strict, and my new classmates unfriendly?
When we walked to and from school. Back then, there were no means of public transport to take us from one place to another in our little town. But walking the whole distance from my house to school was never a chore, because I usually walked together with classmates who lived near me. Returning home in the afternoons was just as enjoyable, as we talked and laughed along the way.
When I became a Beatles fan. Everyone I knew at the time was crazy about the Beatles. In school, some of the boys styled themselves as the Beatles, mop top and all, and sang Beatles songs in programs. The Beatles soon became my top favorite band, and I swooned to every song of theirs. Many years later, I had the good chance to visit The Beatles Story, a museum in Liverpool, United Kingdom, about the Beatles and their history.
When I also became a fan of Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Herman’s Hermits, Dave Clark Five, Chad and Jeremy, etc. I learned the lyrics of their songs from a little magazine called Song Hits, which my classmates passed around stealthily during classes. Today, I keep a playlist of those songs on YouTube and Spotify and play them any chance I get. Whoever said that “all it takes is one song to bring back a thousand memories” was absolutely right.
When we had dances in the school quadrangle. When I was too young to dance, I would be content with watching the older students from the sidelines. The ladies looked elegant in their bouffant hairdos, pencil-cut dresses and stiletto heels, completely transformed from the plain Janes in their school uniforms. The men were “isputing” (well-dressed), hair slick and shiny with pomade, shoes clean and polished. I enjoyed watching them do the Twist, Mashed Potato and Watusi. When our time came, these dances had become passé and we were grooving to the Jerk, the Freddie and the Soul.
When the “London Look” was the trend. We kept abreast with the latest fashion by reading Women’s, a weekly magazine that ’No Oloy, the newspaper vendor, would peddle around town on his bicycle. Miniskirts and the pixie haircut were “in,” as were A-line shift dresses, go-go boots and bell-bottomed pants. Socorro, our Manila-bred classmate, was the class fashionista and trendsetter. Whenever we had parties, she would recycle her mother’s old dresses into something fashionable. It was she who wore bell bottoms first, and one day attended a school event in a modish turtleneck blouse on which she had scribbled graffiti in black indelible ink.
When corresponding with foreign pen pals was a wholesome pastime. Many of us girls had foreign pen pals, mostly American girls our age, with whom we exchanged a constant stream of letters. We usually did not wait for ’No Crispin, the postman, to deliver the letters to our doorstep. Whenever we saw him doing the rounds on his bicycle, we would go running after him, yelling, “’No Crispin, is there a letter for me?”
When there were no smartphones or digital cameras to take photos with. In that nondigital era when selfies and “groupfies” were unheard of, we relied on a photographer to take our pictures. Developing the photos usually entailed an agonizingly long wait. Sometimes, in our impetuousness, we would go to the photographer’s studio and, with his permission, fish the prints out of the water bath in which they would still be immersed. Then we would eagerly take them home to dry, adding them to our collection of black-and-white photos.
When we had crushes. Having crushes made high school life an exciting “whirlwind emotional adventure.” We spent a great deal of time talking about them in hushed tones punctuated by girlish giggles in our favorite off-campus hangouts. It was heartbreaking, too, especially if your crush barely even knew you existed.
It is great to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the good old days. At every turn, we will find fond memories, happiness and laughter. Some bends may also fill us with bitterness and regret and tear us apart, if we let them. But one thing is certain—going back in time is a journey of the heart.
Delia T. Combista, 67, is a retired college professor.
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