My High School Senior Year

I showed up at General H. H. Arnold High School in Wiesbaden, West Germany in early September 1963.  We had moved to Wiesbaden, maybe a few weeks earlier, from Chambley AFB, France – after DeGaulle threw us (Americans) out of France.

It was a bright sunny morning that morning as I walked to school just up the street from our apartment on Floridastrasse.  I carried an “air” about me that projected that I had nary a care in the world, but inside I was scared shitless.  I didn’t know a soul!

I found my Home Room and spotted an empty desk up against the wall, and made a beeline for it.  Wanted to settle in and make myself as inconspicuous as possible.  I watched the interplay between the other kids, knowing I was an “outsider.”

For the first few days I hid in plain sight, hoping no one would notice me – they didn’t.  Then I spotted this ‘cute little girl’ and immediately developed somewhat of a “crush” on her.  Somehow I managed to find out her name.

Mom noticed that I was acting kinda “hinky” around the house, and asked me about it.  When I finally told her that I saw girl that was “kinda cute,” she asked me her name.  (Mom was always good at interrogation.)  When I told her, she said, “Oh neat, we were stationed with them at Selfridge AFB, MI.  Cool, common ground.  I couldn’t wait to approach her the next day, armed with this “connection.”

When I finally mustered the courage to approach her – maybe a few days later – I introduced myself and told her that we had been stationed at Selfridge together.  “Oh, that’s nice,” she remarked, as she turned and walked away… never to speak to me again that I can remember…

I attempted to assimilate as best I could, but never really felt I quite made it.  My grades were suffering, and I just felt “awkward.”

In October I befriended Dana Shumard, and she became my “saving grace.”  We never dated but became ‘close friends.’  Later that year I met a gal I did actually date for a while, and eventually took to the Senior Prom.

With attending high school in Germany we had some opportunities other kids, ‘civvies,’ could only dream of.  Our Senior Class Trip went to Rome, Italy, not New York.  Then we had a Senior Class Dinner on the Rhine River.  Magic.  And, of course, our Senior Prom at the von Steuben.  Because my handwriting stood out, I was designated to write all the name tags.  Lucky me…

When the Class Mugs came out I was thrilled!  They were ornate, heavy beer steins with the names of each kid listed on the side and individually, featured on the top – around the lip of the mug.  Pretty spiffy they were – only I didn’t get one!  For some reason or another, I was left out.

After a bit of “scrambling,” they did have one made for me.  Only my name wasn’t embedded on the side with the rest of the class.  It was as if I were an “afterthought.”  I brought it back to the States with me, held on to it for a few months, then threw it against the garage – shattering it into a lot of tiny ceramic pieces…

In a clumsy attempt ‘to fall in love,’ like everyone else, I asked Patte to “go steady” with me toward the end of the year.  Guess she didn’t have anything better going on at the time, so she agreed, and I gave her my class ring, as was the drill in those days.  I don’t know if it was really serious or not; today I don’t think so, but I was “going steady!”  Two months after I returned to the States, in August 1964, I received a package from her with my class ring in it.  Other than my fragile EGO, it really didn’t bother me that much.  But that EGO – it did!

I shoved that ring in a drawer, and never really ever wore it much after that.  It held no meaning for me.  I eventually had it melted down into a gold nugget ring – then I lost that damn thing.  Oh well, it didn’t mean that much to me anyway…

Then, as kinda the coup d’grace, when the class yearbooks came out, my name was spelled wrong on the cover… damn – no wonder I never felt like I fit in.

And so these are the memories I carry of my senior year.  In a couple months “they” are having a 50th Class Reunion in Austin, TX.  Holy Crap!  Our 50th Reunion!  Doc Holaday, a classmate I have kept in touch with, is encouraging me to attend, and I might.  Would like to see Gregersen anyway.  So, we’ll see…

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1 Response to My High School Senior Year

  1. John L. Ray says:

    Memories: My senior year was not much better. Nancy and I were falling apart. She was headed for Junior College and I was headed for the University. Besides, I had two jobs to pay for entry into the University. Never did get the class ring back. Does not matter, I never wore it — not even once.

    But, if you see Gregersen, tell him I said “Hello”.

    John

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