35 (and counting)

Since I can’t talk about the weight thing every Monday anymore (well, the contest is over and I more than met my goal), I’ve got to find new topics for the beginning of the week.

I spent a quick couple of days in my hometown. Good, because I got to see some of my family and some old friends. Bad, because it’s a 9-hour drive each way for 2-and-a-half days and I didn’t have time to see all my family. Good, because I had someone to share the drive with for a change. Bad, because the weather was kinda sucky the first day (when we did all the sightseeing). Good, because it was also my birthday and I got a very nice meal (and desert) out of it.

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

Time flies when you’re fighting off the ravages of time. I got out of high school in 1974. I forget sometimes how long ago that was. Seems like we just had our 20 reunion. But that was 15 years ago, the first time I lived in Memphis.

That one was a big draw, but I do understand that you’re going to see fewer people as the years pass. After all, we’ve moved up, moved on, moved out, etc. Still, I thought it would be a nice opportunity to see how some of the folks were doing, although I had a feeling that the group of people I ran with probably wouldn’t be there (they didn’t make the 20th either).

So young...

So young...

Just for sake of comparison, I’ll give you the chance to see just what a dashing figure I cut at the time. I’m posing with the class vice president, the lovely Gladys Gibbs.  She was at the reunion, but cut out before I was able to get a “now” picture with her. Trust me, she’s still cute. Anyway, we were selected “most intelligent” by our classmates.

Today's Doug Johnson

...so not young

She was very intelligent when we were in school. How do I know? She didn’t really hang out with me. Maybe that’s more of a sign of taste instead of intelligence. Who knows.  I don’t have the Members Only jacket anymore (it was my brother’s anyway). Don’t have the massive Afro anymore either. But I am still able to fake sincerity on camera.

I did get a chance to say hello to Ed Willis, our principal. He was a member of the same church as my family, and was the big reason I got to attend East in the first place. I didn’t live in the district when a buddy of mine got the idea of transferring from the school we were supposed to attend and go to East instead. Since I had an “in” with the principal, I got to go. My friend ended up at Marion-Franklin, the school we were supposed to go to.

Me & Mr. (and Mrs.) Willis!

Me & Mr. (and Mrs.) Willis!

Mr. Willis is 83, but still in good enough shape to come and spend some time with some of the hundreds (if not thousands) of students he helped put on the right path.

He may be 30 years older than we are, but I had to tell him that he looks good enough to put some of us to shame. He was good enough to laugh. He’s always been good about laughing at my jokes (which isn’t always an easy thing to do).

Everyone in attendance was delighted to see him up and around. I’m also pretty sure that whatever successes we’ve enjoyed are in part because of the influence he had on us.

The Girlfriend

The Girlfriend

The Girlfriend's Friend

The Girlfriend's Friend

One thing that disappointed me a little was that my high school sweetie wasn’t there. I had actually heard about the reunion from her, but she lives even further away from Ohio than I do, so I guess I can’t begrudge her for having other things to do. One of her running buddies was there… and she hadn’t changed very much. Have you ever had a girlfriend with a friend who was just as cute?

Still pals

Still pals

Of course, the girlfriend’s friend is usually oblivious to the fact that you find them… “interesting…” which is always for the best. Anyway, the friend was there, and remembered me, if not my “interest,” which again, was for the best.

One last thing, as I mentioned, I went up to Ohio with a friend, and took the opportunity to show her some of the sights of my childhood. I won’t go into too much detail, but kudos to the family who lives in my first childhood home.  Thanks for taking care of the place. Not so much love to the people in the last house my family lived it. Clean the place up, willya!

A Man and His Tree

A Man and His Tree

Anyway, the first elementary school I attended, Watkins Road, has been closed, replaced by a new school built next door. However, in the one year I went there, I was selected as the first grade representative to help plant a tree by the then-new school.  They’re going to tear the school down, but hey — the tree is still there:


About Doug Johnson

I spent 25 years in the news business, working in print, radio and television. After a steady rise to the middle, I made the leap to the private sector, which chewed and then tried spitting me out after 2 years. I zigged (instead of zagging) into a position in television production.
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One Response to 35 (and counting)

  1. Joy says:

    Doug, I knew we were close in age but didn’t realize we graduated from HS the same year AND from the same school–East High! Of course, my school was in Memphis, not Ohio. Loved your senior picture. Not sure I would have the guts to put mine online. I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” and look where I am today, LOL! So much for senior polls, though your classmates were obviously much more astute:-)

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