Monday, June 05, 2017

Graduation season

My friends' son graduated from high school this weekend. (Picture used by parental permission.) He sure looks happy and handsome, as do his friends. Congratulations to them all -- one milestone down and worlds to conquer!

Like the young man pictured above, I attended a private school which put on a grand graduation ceremony. But, oh, the differences! This is my high school class of 1965, Buffalo NY. (Back row, five from the right, for the curious.) The world has become better since then in so many ways.
  • The school went to great trouble to get us all lined up neatly on bleachers for a professional photographer. That's what it took to get a proper photo in those distant times. Much effort was expended on getting the legs of the girls in the front arranged properly. How stiff we look!
  • Everyone in the picture is white. The school had one black girl in a lower class in the year we graduated. I can't imagine what her life was like. (Nowadays it looks to be a far more diverse place, I learn from their unanswered fund appeals.)
  • No pseudo-academic robes for us. We all had to wear white "lawn party" dresses. These were not something that even these privileged young women owned. Some, the most affluent or fashion-conscious, bought "frocks" for the occasion. I was fortunate to be in a long lineage of the more thrifty who passed the dresses down from year to year. I got the item I had on from the recently graduated daughter of one of the women who taught at the school when my mother had taught there before I was born. I remember it being ill-fitting and scratchy.
  • And see those bouquets! You might think we were a bevy of bridesmaids -- and in fact the form of the event did point where much of our upbringing was meant to lead. The building in the background was one of the city's society churches. The school made polite noises about the important roles we might play in our future lives. It actually offered a solid introduction to scholarly learning. But there was no question that we were being launched toward heterosexual marriage and bearing 1.5 respectable children who might attend the institution in their turn (if female).
As you can perhaps tell, I hated my high school graduation. In fact, I hated my high school.

Certainly many high school grads still hate their high schools (though not, evidently, the young man pictured above). That's okay. It's a hard time of life. But there is so much more ahead. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

I went to Jefferson Union High School in Daly City, California. The atmosphere was completely different from the one at the school you attended, which sounds stifling, all right, directed at turning out respectable young women for the better classes. With us it was more trying to keep us under control and maybe teach us a few things! We were a rowdy bunch!

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