Santa Ana High School

We decide to cruise past the high school over on Walnut Street.    A one-way road system, plus road work in progress, delays us, but finally we park in front of the main building where we congregated daily back in 1954, ’55, and ’56.  The lawn seems small, but later we learn that, in fact, it is smaller.  The steps, the black trash bins, the wrought iron and glass light fixtures,  look like they have not been changed. The are  Art Deco, the style of the 30’s, which is when this building was constructed, and very handsome.     We walk through the double doors we emerged from 50 years ago, graduates after 3 years together. 

The auditorium where the three of us were usherettes seems unchanged.  We performed in musicals and plays on that stage.  Candidates for student body offices gave speeches here.  We congregated here for assemblies to learn of changes in disciplinary policy, academic matters, upcoming events.  It looks exactly the same to me.   The slumbering girl I was awakens, blinks, looks around.  I see us in the red uniform we wore as usherettes.  I remember flouncing around on the stage as Effie in Arsenic and Old Lace, cavorting with Connie Schnabel as a Siamese Cat to the song, We Are Siamese If you Please, by  Patti Page I think. 

I stood before the entire student body to make a speech when I ran for student body secretary, which I lost to Jean Venners, who now has the gall to appea rat the reunion slimmer than she was then and looking 20 years younger than the rest of us.

Is it the girl from back then, or me, the supposed adult, who   regrets opportunities not taken, who grieves the pain of growing up experienced here, for the rebellious, hemmed in, confused child who thought she had to grow up the minute she walked out of here, and wondered why she felt no different, now that the long-awaited graduation was accomplished.

But I remember, too, the fun of dances and hops and football games and learning to drive.  Some friendships which were forged back then continue to this day, though there were long gaps in between.  The lockers where we started our days have been moved, replaced by display cases full of trophies.    The names of our most famous graduates are on the auditorium and the walls.   Little Bobby Webster, who went on to win a gold medal for diving in the Olympics of 1964, and who , no longer so little,  could be a poster-boy for  the benefits of fitness, so well-preserved and fit he is.  Diane Keaton’s name is there,too,  her real name being Hall, like mine.   

We remember the smoke from cigarettes pouring out of the faculty room.  We remember standing on the walkways between buildings, watching for our current heart-throbs out of the corners of our eyes and whispering, "Don’t look, he’s over there."  I could wander around here for hours, but we have places to and people to see, so we climb back into the red Chevy and head for the other end of town.