To the point week of 12-17-09

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IF YOU KNOW ME AT ALL, you know that there are Tuesday nights when I work pretty late at the newspaper office. In a way, I’ve grown to like it, because it’s quiet and I’m alone and I can gets lots of things done before the Wednesday deadline comes.

If you were in the newspaper office with me late on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, you would also get to hear a rather varied range of music coming out of my iPod.

It’s a pretty wide range, and depending on my mood, you’re liable to hear anything from AC/DC to Elvis to Steven Curtis Chapman.

So as I write this it’s late on Tuesday night and I’m working after returning from the girls basketball game at South Ripley. Tonight, I’ve got the Statler Brothers blaring through the office.

For those who don’t know, they are a classic Country quartet, a group that I grew up listening to. As I roam through “Flowers of the Wall” and “Bed of Roses”, after a few songs the true Statler Brothers classic came on – “Class of ’57”.

If you haven’t heard it, the group reminisces about their high school graduating class, weaving their way through those who were successful and those who were just working ordinary jobs.

The chorus goes “But the Class of 57 had its dreams. We all thought we’d change the world with our great works and deeds, or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs, but the Class of 57 had its dreams.”

Now I was not a member of the Class of 57, but I was a member of the Class of 79 at Centerville High School, and as I sit here and type, I think about the past 30 years. How fast it’s gone. How I thought those people were the most important people in my life – and, to a degree – I was right.

I guess I get a little sentimental around the Christmas season; but I’m sitting here listening to this song and I think about how technology has allowed me to have my own version of the “Class of 57”.

Using the Internet.

I have a Facebook page. Never thought I’d have one, but I do. As a part of setting the thing up, you give some basic information, and one of those things is what year you graduated from high school and what year that was.

Once you do, “technology” searches out others on Facebook who also graduated from that school in that year, and it sends them a message.

And suddenly you are reconnected with people that you haven’t seen or heard from in 30 years.

And the “song” begins to play:

Jeff Banning owns an engineering firm in Plainfield, Indiana. Diane Sharp lives in St. Louis; and Donna Foreman lives in Dallas. Glade Montgomery is a high school principal in Lafayette; and Todd Rhoda has a successful advertising agency in the heart of New York City.

Cindy Riesen lives in Florida and wants people to come and visit. Jennifer Bing is still “hugging trees” and is active in trying to find a peaceful situation in the Middle East. Bob Dils tragically lost his son, and now lives in Colorado; while Kelley Hunt settled in sunny Arizona.

Pam Eikenberry, the “beauty queen” of the Class of 79, is now a grandmother living in Virginia (and she doesn’t look a day older than when she was in high school). Kelvin Johnston is still in the Centerville area; and Tim Eadler and Jane Meyers do, too.

Scott Hemperly, who fell off of the earth after junior high, bounced back into our lives and lives in Evansville.

Jacquita Upchurch married her high school sweetheart and lives in Vevay, Indiana. Her husband’s a lucky guy.

As I get those requests to add my classmates to my “Friends” list, I can’t help but hear that Statler Brothers song play in my mind, because – like the classmates in the song – we all had our dreams, too.

We were going to conquer the world; make our dreams become reality; live the “perfect life”.

And then we left the hallways of our high school.

I have to say that we’ve all done pretty well, because being able to have conversations with them through the Internet, all are happy and healthy and living great lives.

Most have grandkids, and seem to think it’s funny that Jacquita and I still have a child in school. Others are divorced and remarried and divorced again. Some never found that right person; while others have filled their time pursuing areas of interest that are as varied as we all were back in school.

Others, like Jerry Lucas, Bobby Earlywine, Jeff Davis, and Brian Foust, left us all too soon; and when a class of kids suddenly is faced with the reality of our limited time; we all tend to grow up a bit too soon.

I miss the friends of my youth; but even so I also have grown to appreciate the friends and family that I have found here during the past 25 years. Like my classmates, we all move from one area of our lives and into a new, wonderful experiences. Are they the dreams that we dreamed in high school? No, in most cases, they aren’t.

But they are the realization of our true dreams. We all ultimately dream of being safe and happy and healthy – and having children and grandchildren who get to have a better life than we’ve had.

It was the dream of my parents, and their parents before them – and it’s my dream for my children.

No, I’m not the President of the U.S. (although it is a tempting proposition); and I’m not living in Chicago and writing for the “Tribune”; but as another year begins to come to an end, I find myself looking around this empty room and knowing deep in my heart that I wouldn’t be anywhere else on this planet.

God’s plan that answered my dreams put me right here in Switzerland County, surrounded by wonderful people and great friends who care about me and who care about each other.

Sometimes we end up in places and have no idea how we got there, but what a joy it is to live in a place that I love with all my heart – and a place where my wife and children want to call home forever, too.

But those people, those kids that I grew up with and played Little League with and shared my hopes and dreams with, will always be an important and wonderful part of my life.

And the song plays on:

“…And the Class of 57 had its dreams, but living life day to day is never like it seems. Things get complicated, when you get past 18, but the Class of 57 had its dreams.”