Friday, June 28, 2013

An Open Letter to my Classmates from Lubbock High School, Class of 1955

Lubbock High School after 19th street was widened.  Somebody watered the trees.  Five hundred twenty-six of us graduated from high school in this lovely building and went out to face the world in the spring of 1955.
      I wanted to write something meaningful and appropriate about our recent 58th High School Reunion.  What is appropriate when so many are gone and so many others are ill and infirm?  What is meaningful, when close friends are hospitalized, clinging to life?  I think it’s appropriate to look for the positives in our situation.  I think it is meaningful to remember all the good things the members of this class accomplished.  I think it is time to look forward, feel good, laugh, talk, and visit with old friends.  I think we need to remember good things.
      While looking through some old papers last week, I discovered a small, thick envelope addressed to my parents.  Inside was another envelope, and inside that, a greeting card-sized leather-bound booklet.  Across the lower front, the words “Lubbock High” were embossed into the black leather and outlined in gold leaf.  An etching of the magnificent building we attended, and took for granted, filled the bulk of the space on the front of the announcement.
     On the first page, held in place by an embossed western saddle, an engraved card said simply, “Jimmy McLaughlin,” the young man I once was.  The overleaf displayed a brown-ink sketch of a cowboy, resting on a mesa, with his horse grazing nearby.    Beyond, gigantic thunderheads framed the overpowering West Texas sky.
     The next page revealed one single sentence, engraved in Olde English Script.  It read, “The Senior Class of Lubbock Senior High School announces its Commencement Exercises Friday, May the twenty-seventh Nineteen hundred fifty-five at eight o’clock in the Fair Park Coliseum”
     I was overwhelmed by the quality of the whole thing.  Unlike similar items today, no imitation leather, no production compromises, no skimpy shortcuts were taken.  I realized that is as it should be.  I remember the quality of the education we received in that memorable building.  I remember the teachers, the coaches, the administrators.  It is only fitting that all that quality should be reflected in our graduation announcement.
     Now, all these years later, we can look back on the lessons we learned, the attitudes we developed, the alliances we made.  We can be proud of our accomplishments and thankful for the influence this school had on our lives.  We can be grateful—for the High Plains, for Lubbock High School, and for each other.
     I know this is meaningful.  I hope it is appropriate. I enjoyed every visit, every story, every chuckle, and every guffaw over the entire weekend.  My only regret is that I didn’t get to visit with everyone.  I love you all.
                                                                                          Jim McLaughlin
The Lubbock High School Building as we knew it, during the early days of aerial photography.

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