Bradford High School
Class Of 1961
Top Ten Places My High School Diploma Might Be
By Jim Szantor
10--Propping up a wobbly table at Chuck E. Cheese.
9--In a landfill somewhere, along with an autographed 8 by 10 glossy of Jan and Dean.
8--In the Smithsonian, as part of its "Effluvia of the Edsel Years" collection.
7--In an evidence locker awaiting forensic examination for the new show "CSI-Franksville."
6--In tatters. Accidentally used to test out my new Rod Blagoevich Model Paper Shredder.
5--Dog accident--don't ask! (Not sure where the dog is, either!)
4--No number 4--time to study for my Early Alzheimer's Prevention online correspondence course.
3--Buried in a back yard time capsule inside my Clarabell the Clown lunch box.
2--In the glove compartment of my inexplicaby stolen 1956 DeSoto Firedome.
1--Right where it's always been--locked in the bottom drawer of Mr. Stocker's desk
By Jim Szantor
Kindergarten, grade school, junior high, high school, college--17 years in the educational system of our country, five graduation days (or ceremonies)--and still I wait. And you do, too; that is, if you have any purist blood coursing through your sclerotic veins. Wait for what we all were striving for in those many years of compulsory education, term papers, pop quizzes, No. 2 pencils, final exams and anxiously awaited report cards--our sheepskins.
Originally, diplomas were made of thin sheepskin, as paper was difficult to create and extremely delicate, and would have to be completely handwritten, as they predated the invention of the printing press. Later, parchment was used, and at the turn of the 20th Century, diplomas became bound in leather.
More's the pity, though ; progress this was not. The traditionalist in me finds the transition to paper a disappointment--on a par with instant coffee, synthetic fabrics and diet soda. I long for the real McCoy, the genuine article. Am I alone?
Lest you think I'm a latter-day Miniver Cheevy (of Edwin Arlington Robinson fame), please know that sheepskins are not a total relic of centuries past--they still exist--still bestowed, in fact, by one of our most prominent institutions of higher learning, Notre Dame.
And by others, too: Recent graduates of The University of Wyoming , Rice University and William and Mary report that their diplomas are likewise of the traditional variety. A woman on the Web site College Confidential reports that she has her sheepskin diploma (in Latin) "framed and hanging in my hallway. It looks great." Apparently this is a battle PETA, the animal-rights activist group, has not seen fit to join, as research does not reveal protest activity in this area.
Steve Martin once mused, "How many polyesters had to die to make that shirt?" Ergo, how many sheep would have had to lay down their lives to accommodate the diploma demands of 600-some Bradford grads on that eventul day in June of 1961, the steamy day when we strode across the stage (the day after our original Graduation Day was rained out!), shook hands with the principal, and walked away--in my view, at least--shortchanged.
Where's the outrage? If it ever existed, perhaps it has been, as the poets would put it, lost in the mists of time. For there are a lot of substitutions I can accept, a lot of compromises I can abide, but when it comes to graduations, I'm a hard-liner, a traditionalist and perhaps too literal-minded for my own good. Thus I sit here a half-century later still unfulfilled, feeling as jilted as the bridegroom in the climactic scene of "The Graduate." I want my sheepskin, and I want it now! Until I get it, I'm giving my graduation an INCOMPLETE.
It was my class reunion, and all through the house,
I checked in each mirror and begged my poor spouse
To say I looked great, that my chin wasn't double,
And he lied through false teeth, just to stay out of trouble.
Said that 'neath my thick glasses, my eyes hadn't changed,
And I had the same figure, it was just a mite rearranged.
He said my skin was still silky, although looser in drape,
Not so much like smooth satin, but more like silk crepe.
I swallowed his words hook, sinker and line
And entered the banquet feeling just fine.
Somehow I'd expected my classmates to stay
As young as they were on that long-ago day
We'd hugged farewell hugs. But like me, through the years,
They'd added gray to their hair, or pounds to their rears.
But as we shared a few memories and retold some class jokes,
We were eighteen in spirit, though we looked like our folks.
We turned up hearing aid volumes and dimmed down the light,
Rolled back the years, and were young for the night.
By Jim Szantor
13. “Being the coolest guy at the Senior Center is a lot like being the tallest midget at the circus!”
12. “It’s come to this--believe it or not, I think my legs actually look better in support stockings!”
11. “When my golf score got higher than my bowling score, I decided to give it up.”
10. “Aside from the bypass, the hip replacement and the foreclosure, everything’s fine!”
9. “I swear, Bob, your new rug is almost undetectable!”
8. “I hate dialysis, but it sure beats sitting around the house arguing with the old lady!”
7. “Yeah, I came stag tonight; the ‘escort service’ doesn’t do reunions.”
6. “I just realized that next year all the grandkids will be old enough to be tried as adults!”
5. “No, I don’t remember you, but your breath seems familiar.” (Oops, that was Mr. Stocker’s showstopper at the 25th, but it cried out for a repeat!)
4. “Thank God, I had a pre-nup the second and third time around!”
3. “When the moment is right, I’m not always right for the moment, if you get my drift!”
2. “Assisted Living is sorta like high school without the babes. . . . Actually, it’s without a LOT of things!”
1. “No, I’m NOT still living in my mother’s basement; it’s my BROTHER-IN-LAW’S basement, okay?!”
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