30 and 50

This weekend is the La Follette High School’s Class of 1983 reunion, followed by my alma mater’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Since we Lancers were asked to publicize Saturday’s Fifty Fest, let us start by doing my part:

Fifty Fest

I have written about my alma mater and specifically the Class of 1983 here before, including arguably La Follette’s greatest accomplishment of the 1980s, the 1982 state boys basketball title. (Read the blog and you’ll see that the entire experience was, to use the phrase of the era, choi to the max.) I’ve also written more generally about the Madison (including, of course, its media) we grew up in, as opposed to the Madison that exists today.

I wasn’t able to find La Follette’s fight song (an original composition by La Follette’s first band director) online, but I did find two songs that seem appropriate for those of us eightysomethings, one from the era …

… and one of a more recent vintage:

Here is photographic evidence that I actually was a Lancer:

This is from the aforementioned state championship game, a 62–61 finger-biter (because your fingernails went away long before this game) over previously undefeated Stevens Point. The complete ensemble, from head to toe, was (1) paint hat, a tradition going back to La Follette’s first state title in 1977; (2) sunglasses at night (remember, this is the ’80s); (3) band sweater (which, truth be told, didn’t match the official school cardinal, but whatever) over white shirt, both of which  my mother washed each night after state games; (4) my trumpet, which was actually my father’s trumpet, which was actually my father’s high school band director’s trumpet; (5) white pants and (6) white tennis shoes. (Brooks, I think.)

Reunions include three groups of people — people you want to see, people you don’t want to see, and people you forgot were classmates of yours. (Or, in the case of a large high school like La Follette, people you didn’t know were classmates of yours.) I keep in touch with a lot of my classmates and other Lancer alumni via Facebook since I joined two years ago. (They belong to the first group, though some used to belong to the third group.)

There are superficial realities that are less than pleasant in class reunions. We’re all in our late 40s, so gravity and genetics have done what they can to us. The most unpleasant reality is that there are fewer members of the Class of 1983 since 2008. That obviously is always the case, but the Class of 1983 experienced no deaths while we were in high school. One of our classmates, who was deaf and attended La Follette with a sign-language interpreter, died with her daughter in a house fire earlier this year. Another classmate died 16 years ago in a race car accident. One died of cancer far too young. One died of the effects of alcoholism far too young. The morbid might observe that everyone at a class reunion goes with the reality that he or she might never see someone in that room again, but that’s the reality of any part of our lives.

I had a good time at my 25th reunion. But I’m not going to this weekend’s festivities. Other priorities interrupted — namely, work, our youngest son’s acting in the UW–Platteville Heartland Festival’s “Fiddler on the Roof” (he plays the Rabbi’s son) Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, and all three of our kids swimming in an invitational meet Saturday. I suppose I could go to the festivities by myself, but that doesn’t strike me as festive, so I’m passing on the weekend. Put another way, our kids’ present trumps my past.


2 thoughts on “30 and 50

  1. Sorry that you won’t be joining us. I think I’m over the ‘union scum’ label you tossed at me during the heat of the recall. Fortunately, I can’t think of anyone in our class that I wouldn’t want to see. We had a pretty remarkable group, and even bullies calm down, if not grow up. Good luck to the children!

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