Your high school reunion is the one place you can’t lie about your age. Everyone else there is the same age (approximately)! I attended my 50th class reunion of the Class of 1959 at Ballinger High School this past weekend. I was surprised at the number of us who are already gone. Out of a senior class of 50, 16 have died, four women and 12 men. I don’t know why that surprises me as we are of the age to start dropping, but I guess since I am still around, I just thought everybody else would be also.
Our old high school has been demolished and a new one built, not even on the same location lending a lack of nostalgia to the whole event. We met at a restaurant for lunch, the country club for breakfast and a dinner, and a local couple’s country place for Sunday brunch. With all of those events and a Friday night football game, which we almost won, we saw each other almost every hour of the weekend. I think we enjoyed it, but were ready to leave.
During the reminiscing, some people remembered the following story.
It was too beautiful a Spring day at BHS back in 1956 to be inside at school. One escape existed. It was ASSEMBLY day. Assembly day was when each student paid 25 cents, gathered in the auditorium, and watched some traveling medicine show. The traveling medicine show may be an exaggeration, but let’s face it--Ballinger was not on the A list entertainment tour.
No matter what kind of entertainment existed on stage during the assemblies, the 25 cents was worth getting to miss class.
I had been going to Ballinger High School almost one year, and I thought I had figured out a way to game the system. I told several of my starched petticoated friends to buy a ticket so we could get out of class. My plan was for us to go immediately to the downstairs girl’s restroom, wait until everyone was in Assembly, then make our break.
and since the teachers didn’t take roll in every class, we wouldn’t be missed when class resumed after the magician finished his last tricks on the BHS stage.
We would sneak out the side door where there was nothing between us and the Ag building, the back of which I intended my posse to hide, regroup, and plan our next move.
The lovely Spring weather had precipitated another situation in the auditorium. All the windows, usually closed with the blinds drawn for some educational movie during Assembly, were wide open and the blinds were all up.
The bottom floor of the old BHS where the auditorium was located was below ground level, with the bottom of the windows about even with the ground.
So on this beautiful Spring day the windows were open and the blinds were up when we charged out of the restroom, up the half stairs and out the door. I shouted, “Follow me, girls!” (I had always wanted to say that) as our starched petticoats kept cadence with our pounding high school legs. I happened to look to my left as we were in full gait and to my surprise saw all 225 kids gathered for assembly looking out the windows with their mouth agape. Too late to stop, we charged on.
We ran to my house which was just right down 8th Street, and sure enough someone called from the school and wanted to know if we were there. Like most families then, we had only one telephone in the house and I beat Mom to it, changed my voice, said I was Bea Carter, and said that Beverly was right here and was very sick.
I don’t remember any punishment we may have received. I’m sure it was something but it must not have been too bad or I would remember it. What I mostly remember is the look on the faces of 225 students as the thundering herd of girls charged past the windows.
It was a bittersweet event as we won’t see some of those that attended again. They made a special effort to attend this 50th reunion, but they are too far flung to get together very often, and we are getting up in years. Even our Austrian exchange student made it, but that was no surprise as he was at our 30th reunion as well. I just realized part of the reason I volunteered for an exchange student--my fond memories of Siegfried Pertl (Siggy).
Our school has an all-school reunion every five years. Over the years, we’ve watched certain classes gather for their 50th reunion and always thought, “Why don’t those old farts just go home?”
Well, now we know. We are the old farts and we still like to party.
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