Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Blast from the Past. Commencement?

In today's local paper they had a feature on the Alamogordo High School graduation. I look at those fresh young faces and read about the plans many of them have with a taste of bittersweet nostalgia., Once upon a time, about a million years ago, that was me. Ending  and beginning, transition...

May 31, 1962 was the date of Mingus Union's commencement exercise for me. At that time, Mingus was located in the old Jerome High School complex, up the winding road from the Verde Valley. The friend who went up there with me last fall would probably turn green at the idea of school buses navigating that road five days a week, sometimes with rain or even snow on that pavement! However, we thought nothing of it and the drivers didn't seem to be too concerned either. To the best of my knowledge there were no accidents. Anyway, I've been reading my journal about those last few weeks of school and the culmination of my twelve years of academic effort.  It is really hard to believe I was that girl, even that those days and times are really a part of my life. It is so far away.

I was very happy and proud of the dress my grandmother and great aunt had made for me. Today eighth graders would find it juvenile and laughable, perhaps suitable for first communion or some such event but for me and for that time, it was right. I had pictures taken in it and in my cap and gown--all grown up with heels and makeup and dignity. (Yes, I am smiling now!) Again, could that really have been me? In a prior life, perhaps.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I made a speech, the theme of which was "Dare to be Different" and the difference I spoke of was daring to excel.  Yes, I actually made valedictorian, a fact I was not sure of until the last couple of weeks. As a sophomore when my early crush graduated as co-salutatorian, I said I would. Foolish vow but one I kept. Had I not missed a year of school it is most likely I would not have attained that honor but I dropped from a small group of over-achievers into another class group who were less dedicated.

Oddly the girl I thought I was competing with was not the real competition. Another girl was and became salutatorian but as far as I know she did not go to college and in fact married shortly after our graduation. Anyway, I beat her grade average by a percentage point or two and  the award was mine.Of course there is also irony in the fact I then did not head off to college either for over four years and instead became a professional cowboy girl.

I spent four years in hard labor and dangerous adventures before I finally went on to continue my formal schooling in September 1966. I see now that waiting a year or two between high school and college is becoming "the thing" since the President's elder daughter is going to do it and many less known young folks are as well. Actually I think it is a good idea. Some real work and life experience and a taste of how limited your opportunities can be with only a high school diploma can make college a much more significant and important step in one's progress.

I'm actually in favor of some form of mandatory 'service' for at least a year and maybe two for all young people when they turn eighteen or graduate from high school. Some kind of Peace Crops/Job Corps/NewCCC could accomplish a lot of needed work in both rural and urban areas while letting young people experience work and life away from home under some level of regimentation and discipline similar to that of the military. Not everyone should be in the military but some service and work could be beneficial to both the youth and their country and community! However I am sure the outcry would be long and loud that rights were being violated or something! Expecting youth to work? To live in barracks or dorms and without drugs, booze, sex and rock n' roll?? Child abuse! Cruel and unusual punishment!!

But back to the memoir aspect: Did my four years of "service" do anything for me?  I think so. When I did go to college I was very much oriented to making this new endeavor work and shaping a better future for myself. In most ways, I suppose that happened but that is another story!

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