Twas seventy years ago, the first day of high school. In what seemed like a huge old rock building, there were halls, open rooms, stairways up to the second floor, stairways down to the basement, people of all sizes and all ages. Many smiles offering help, many frowns wondering where to start – registration, of course. It’s the longest line moving forward one at a time – signing up for required courses and classrooms, pondering the one or two courses to choose. Then the number and the key to the locker where students stored a coat, books, supplies such as notebooks, pencils and pens, knapsacks and later lunch or a snack.
Found the locker, the key worked, and a voice next door said, “Hi.” I replied, “Hi.” The only words exchanged for weeks. He was tall, with blond wavy hair, smiling blue eyes, a soft quiet voice, serious about the locker and its key. For weeks we only exchanged “Hi.”
He played football and basketball. I had no interest in either. I spent hours in the library and at the local newspaper writing “The High School News.” I was on my way to being a journalist.
The year passed and now the sophomore year found my girl friend and me in the required physics class. We believed if we just showed up on time every day, we’d get by. The boy whose locker was next to mine and his friend lived for the physics experiments. So we four teamed up – the boys solved the experiments and we girls wrote the progress. All four of us passed, glad to have that done. Still only, “Hi.”
The junior year found the two of us in English and social studies together. Seated by the teacher, we were next to each other. Conversation and debate were about politics, government, world problems and solutions. We got beyond “Hi” but always on the opposite side of any issue. He seemed disorganized and unprepared. I was always “just the facts.” Somehow he always delivered the last, winning statement.
Come January of our senior year, I found the world forever changed. Standing in a crowd at the railroad station, between my two parents, we watched a long line of boys (young men, really) toss bags over their shoulders, and step up into the train with only a quick wave. No “Hi” no “Goodbye.” The train chugged, clattered off into a small dot on the far horizon.
No more than “Hi,” never a date, never at the same event. How could we know our future was here, waiting for us to wake up and speak more than “Hi?”
The rest is history – a long history. Sixty-five years of memorable history. And I cherish every memory.