Something (more on this later) compelled me to dig through the basement last night for this lame little photo album I've had since the early 70s. There's only about a dozen photos in it, and this is one of them. That's me, 3rd ffrom left, in my 'Harvard' class photo. This would be the 6th grade, back when 6th grade was the ruling class of elementary school. Yes I'm wearing hose, and yes, they are held up by a garter belt (this is June 1966...piror to the invention of pantyhose). Don't you love the button placement on the bodice of my jumper? (Oh, for a mother who would have scrutinized my 'look' on school picture day...but sadly, Mom was pretty far into early onset Alzheimers by that time, so it was all on me).
Truly amazing is that I can look at this photo and recognize Sandy 'Egghead' Salo on the far left, and Carol Maynard (the only one in knee socks) to my right--it was fun hanging out with Carol, she had 5 or 6 brothers (I had none), and an attic full of power tools...table saws, lathes...and an unrelenting collection of Jan and Dean and Beach Boys that seemed to play 24/7.
I can probably name another handful of girls in that photo...seriously....this is 45 years ago...I can't remember what I wore to work yesterday, but I can remember who these kids are that I spent a single year in class with....I guess it's all about what really 'matters' to you, and sometimes, it's surprising to find out what that was.
Did you notice the obvious shortage of boys in this 6th grade class? Well, half of those missing were way too cool for class photos (they were hanging out at the corner store in their leather jackets, opening Coke bottles with their teeth), and the other half were likely locked up in juvie for some sort of petty theft (or stealing cars). If you look at those girls and some of those boys very closely, it's not hard to believe that the police came to class at least once a week throughout the school year to tag someone out.
The teacher on the left? Well, that's Miss Boris. It was her first year as a teacher, and from what I'd heard, her last.
Fast forward to 7th grade....Junior High...1968. After a year of 'Greaser Wannabee', I settled on 'Hippie Without a Doubt' (2nd cousin to 'Rebel Without a Cause'). There were 4 of us, and I swear, in an entire Junior High School, ONLY 4 of us, who thought The Doors were far more satisfying than The Temptations.
Aren't we cute....Debbie on the left, Rae, Me (channeling Morrison), and Nada.
I'm not going to bore you with the details, but at least two of us (Debbie and Guess Who Else) were the poster children for the original Wild Child. My own daughter's college years would not compare to my pre-teen years. Needless to say, in raising a daughter, NOTHING slipped by me, much to Miss Jenifer's dismay. (Been there, done that!
Our common bond was the music of the era. We followed the bands. Not quite groupies, in the literal sense, we spent our free time hanging out in the coffee shops of the hotels the bands in town were staying. (Imagine, if you will, a couple of 7th graders in a booth at the Versaille Hotel drinking coffee and discussing Dylan's influence on the Dave Clark Five). Above is a photo of my very bestest friend Debbie, with Dave Palmer of the Amboy Dukes (Journey to the Center of the Mind.....if only then we knew then what Ted Nugent would grow up to become!)
By 1968 (we were 14), we had seen the Doors (that's a majorly drunken Jim in a sound check at a concert in Cleveland above), Hendrix, Joplin. As teen girls are wont to do, we had a pact. No matter what, when we turned 18, we were moving to 'the Coast'...SF, LA....because Cleveland (where we lived) was just not happenin'.
As we've all experienced, we grow up, and we grow apart. In our case, I was being sent to live with a sister, due to an obvious lack of parental control. And the moves became farther....first Virginia, then Maryland...away from the best friend I ever had. Shortly after my 18th birthday I was happily married to the hubs, and not panhandling on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.
That period of my life had a lot to do with who I am today. I have often thought of Debbie Mitchell, and Google was no help in my meek attempts to find her. I had resigned myself to fond memories and nothing more....until Wednesday night.
I rarely look at anything but a Timeline in Facebook, but my new iPhone flags messages. So when I had a message notification pop up, imagine my total surprise to find that Debbie Mitchell had sent me a message....40 years (okay, so now we all know how old I really am) after our last contact with each other. Do you love the internet????? Can I get a Hallelulajah?!!!
We've confirmed that we are who we are, and the couple messages we've Facebooked each other with have triggered quite a few long-forgotten memories of good times. I forsee that we're going to have a lot of fun rehashing the past, and I'm really appreciative that I've been given an opportunity that few people will have---reconnecting with my past.
Divine Providence, Angelic Intervention, Karma....whatever. I feel very fortunate that it's crossed my path, and I look forward to getting to know someone who was once my best friend, once again. (It's looking like that angel I had tattooed on my shoulder is working overtime.).