Forty-Five Years From Now

Posted on March 4, 2015 under Storytelling with one comment


Programmed for success



“… I wanna see your smiling face forty five years from now”

Forty-Five Years – Stan Rogers

Who would have known that the time would fly by so quickly?

I was strolling down the Main the other day and happened to bump into someone whom I hadn’t seen in a while.  We chatted about the weather (of course!) and family.  I inquired about her son; a contemporary of mine.  When I started to do the math, I realized that I hadn’t laid eyes on him since we walked out of the St. Ninian Culture and Recreation Centre nearly forty five years ago.  Graduation night.  June 13th, 1970.

It seems to be that we’re prone to trumpeting “firsts”.  First date, first kiss, first child.  Locally and provincially, 1970 saw a few “lasts”.  We were the last graduating class of Antigonish High School. Veritas vos liberabit.  The university was growing at the time and needed additional facilities.  And large schools were becoming all the rage.  The Regional High School was a mammoth structure, warehousing over 1200 students.  They called this “progress” at the time.  We were also the last group of students to write Provincial exams, those anxiety-inducing “all or nothing” finals.

My Way  


High School graduations these days are week-long affairs.  There is a lot of pomp and circumstance … and partying.  There are multiple events, and many parents have to take out a second mortgage to pay for the attire, meals and stretch limos.  There is a Grand March and an all-night party in someone’s pasture, “far from the madding crowd”.  Thomas Hardy would have approved of having a soiree near someone’s farm, as this was the setting for his famous novel of the same name.

No.  It was very different in 1970.  By today’s standards, we were a pretty innocent and naïve lot.  We were reasonably well schooled in academics but it would be hard to say that we were worldly.  Today, technology gives young people unlimited access to information and knowledge.   But does it give them wisdom?  Probably no more than we had at the tender age of 18.

Proud Mary 

Band of Gold

There were very few eating establishments in Antigonish back in 1970. The venue for special occasions was the Goshen Restaurant in Lower South River.  As a prelude to the big night, we piled in cars and took the ten minute jaunt.  We ate; we speechified and clinked our glasses of soda.  Anticipation was in the air.

The following evening we congregated at the Parish Centre for the graduation ceremony.  We formed two lines of 31 and marched proudly past the fish pond booth up to the front of the gym near the stage. Eleanor gave the opening address and Robert was our deserving valedictorian.  The girls all wore white dresses and the guys wore suits.  Homogeneity was all the rage.

And then, it was time to party.

A Boy Named Sue

Okie from Muskogee

There was no organized event, so many of my classmates walked out of “The Centre”, made a left and a right and walked up the hill to 39 Hillcrest Street for a house party.  We sang our hearts out – that’s what you did back then.  Things were going swimmingly when, much to my shock, my father offered alcohol to the assemblage.  Up to this point in our lives, booze wasn’t important to us.  We would make up for lost time at university.  My dad entered the living room carrying exactly one bottle of Schooner beer … to be shared by the 30 or so in attendance.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Leaving on a Jet Plane

The next day, a group of us met outside “The Alleys” for one last time.  We dangled our legs over the railings and watched the river, all the while wondering what lay ahead.

God willing (or “the good Lord willing” as Tommy Hunter used to say at the end of his television show), those of us still alive and kicking will get together for our 50th reunion.  Some of us will have shed some hair and gained some weight.  And finally acquired some wisdom.

I like to think that the best is yet to come.

“Before the rising sun we fly, So many roads to choose We start out walking and learn to run. And yes, we’ve just begun.”

We’ve Only Just Begun – The Carpenters

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