Last week as I was thinking about what my column might hold for this week, a school bus full of high school seniors arrived in the parking lot outside my work site. They piled out of the bus like a swarm of bees and headed for our historic railroad depot. I saw a lady with a camera in her hands and figured out that this was a senior photo opportunity.
It seemed so long ago that my class of 1965 enjoyed the same feeling as these modern day seniors. Some call it senior-I-tis. The malady strikes all high school seniors about this time of year.
It is a time when they can see the end of the rope. They feel a certain sense of freedom for the first time in their school careers. Some of the constraints that were present during their school years are released a bit, giving them reason to kick up their heels and feel the fresh breeze of freedom.
My senior class set aside a day for our senior individual pictures. We were allowed to choose a photo studio to take our photographs, and most of us chose a studio in Sioux City. The boys and girls were separated and were allowed to afford their own means of transportation.
In my case, my friend, Ronnie, had the newest car and he was chosen to take a load of his friends to the studio. We were all dressed up in our suits when we left the school parking lot.
The rule was that we were supposed to go directly to the studio, get our pictures taken and then head back to school. Once we left the parking lot in Ronnie's car, I knew this was not to be the case in our experience. There was talk immediately of what we were going to do after our pictures were taken. The conversation didn't involve heading right on back to school.
Once out of posing at the studio there was a discussion as to where we would find a pool hall. We felt no one would miss us for an hour or so, so we headed across the river to a spot we all knew.
The bartender looked at us kind of in astonishment as we entered wearing our suits and ties. He hadn't seen anybody dressed up like that in awhile, I guess. But, he didn't say anything and we hit the pool table with a vengeance.
"Eight ball in the corner pocket," said my friend, Melvin, as he stroked the cue ball. Click, click and the ball dropped into the corner netting. After an hour, we declared Melvin the winner and took off from the gravel parking lot in a cloud of dust.
I remember Ronnie's car radio playing tunes by the Everly Brothers, the Beatles, Roy Orbison and Jerry and the Pacemakers as we tooled back up Highway 75 and into the school's parking lot. We noticed that all the cars from the other seniors who had driven were already in the parking lot.
It was with a bit of apprehension that we strode into the hallways and up into the study hall. One of our teachers, Mr. Pavlik, was standing guard at the door as we entered.
"You guys been fighting forest fires?" he uttered as we shrugged off into the desks.
I knew Ronnie shouldn't have smoked that Lucky Strike in the car.
I was thinking about that experience that day last week as I watched that bunch of seniors head out of the bus and down to have their group picture taken. The photographer looked as if she was herding a bunch of cats as she tried to get them all to look at the camera without making goofy faces or gestures. Some of them laid on the ground, some of them climbed up on the railings of the depot and some of them just tried to sneak into the back of the group.
They were seniors. They're not to be held accountable for some things this time of year. You can't blame them.
Freedom is a wonderful thing! I felt it that day in 1965 when we were set free.
See you next time. Okay?