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San Clemente Journal

Publisher Message - Queen Mary

Aug 29, 2006 10:57PM ● By Don Kindred
Old friends, they mean much more 
to me than new friends,
cause they can see where you are, 
and they know where you’ve been.
     - Harry Chapin

A couple of hundred people gathered on the Queen Mary in July to celebrate their 31st high school reunion. We were actually a year late for our 30th, but,with most of us about to hit 50, someone probably forgot. The aged but elegant ship provided an  appropriate venue.

We came from Hawaii and Kentucky, Georgia, New York, Texas and all over California. Old friends and fellow students that were tied together forever simply by being some place at the same time. 

Those of us who find ourselves near the mid-century mark today, all share a historic timeline in a dramatic fifty years. We were around the first grade when Kennedy was shot, probably the youngest ones at the time who still remember it. Collectively, we turned 12 in 1969, starting junior high when the world was changing quickly around us. My old pictures tell the story best. Seventh grade with a crew-cut, straight leg pants (a couple of inches too short) and white socks. Then I must have started watching the news. Three years of nightly body counts from Vietnam, complete graphic images of the carnage in southeast Asia, the deaths of overdosed and idolized rock stars, the threats of nuclear weapons and the protests took their toll. By the time I finished the ninth grade my hair and sideburns hung past my collar, my pants drug below my shoes and I quit wearing socks all together. Even the Beatles had gone from sweet songs about holding hands to calls for outright “Revolution”. 

When we got into high school, the bumper stickers that told us to ‘Question Authority’ rang true as our Government classes were dedicated to watching the Watergate trial, and ultimately, the resignation of the President of the United States. 

Yet, at the same time, we had seen a man walk on the moon at an age when our young dreams were encouraged to grow without limits. We sat as witnesses when our country debated and protested everything; the war, the rights of women, minorities and workers. We embraced the word freedom in all aspects of our lives. 

We had peace signs on our PeeChees, we had pot, Pong and the pill. And of course, we had that music, that sweet, sweet music. Every generation has their own songs that tie them to their memories. But from ’69 to ’74, when we were young and music was king, we shared some of the best, (I left off 1975 because the top two records that year were songs by Glen Campbell and the Captain and Tenille, tough year.)

Those that grew up in West Anaheim, of course, shared even more. The flat terrain made it easy for young kids to ride their Stingray bicycles, and three right turns would usually bring you right back where you started. We threw oranges at each other in the groves until they dug them up, then we threw baseballs in the park. We played every sport they had a ball for and then we made some up. We didn’t live by the beach, but on a hot summer day we lived for the beach getting there any way we could, which often included hitchhiking or 30-mile bike rides. Everybody knew it was nine o’clock by the explosions of light and crackle of the fireworks at Disneyland, just a few miles away. The ominous sign usually meant we were supposed to be home. 
Then there is a smaller group of us that first met in elementary school and have celebrated each other’s milestones with everything from soda pop to champagne for 42 years now. That’s a hard number for me to believe. 

I’ve found that people don’t change much if you know them long enough, and old friends will always provide an important perspective .... both for the things you can tell them, and the things you don’t have to.

Don R. Kindred
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