Back in high school, I lived for the weekends, which were the best nights of the week. Friday nights in the fall meant Coyote football, and if it happened to be a home game we had the after-game dance in the boy’s gym. During basketball season dances were held after Friday night home games, too. The music we danced to came from local garage bands and records.
Saturday was date night. The Madera Theater served for causal dates and the El Rio Drive-in if one desired a bit more privacy. There were also times when we all pooled our movie ticket money to buy beer and wine. Compared to all the other mind-expanding substances available in the early 1970s, a little bit of the hops or the grape seems quite tame. Thank goodness, the statute-of-limitations on underage drinking ran out years ago.
This weekend my Madera High School class of 1973 is celebrating the 45th anniversary of our graduation. Looking back I’m not sure where those 45 years went. It seems it was just a few years ago that we put on those silly rented robes and ridiculous square hats called mortarboards. We marched into the football stadium as a group for the last time before we scattered to the four winds. For 13 years, we saw these people almost every day and we knew after that night the next chapter of our lives would begin. It was the last time we would all be together.
When we were growing up, Madera was a small town with six elementary schools, one junior high and one high school. There were a handful of K-8 country schools and St. Joachim was the only parochial school. Some of the students who went to St. Joachim attended high school at San Joaquin Memorial.
I feel Madera was a more united community when we had just one high school. In other words we were all Coyotes. My mother and my older brothers were all MHS alumni. As a little girl, looking forward to being a Coyote meant something very special.
Our class holds its reunions every five years. Even though we are in our mid-60s, we have lost more than 40 of our 373 classmates. Reading that list makes us feel sad and more than a little grateful not to be one of the names on it.
At our 10-year reunion, my classmates were proudly showing off photos of their children. This time I assume it will be their grandchildren’s photos that will be flashed about. Instead of brag books, many of those pix will be on cell phones.
The advances in technology since we graduated from high school are vast. Back then, only the most expensive cars had AM-FM radios, eight-track or cassette tape players. Air-conditioning in cars was also all but unheard of in 1973. While car phones existed, they too were cost-prohibitive for most people.
The best part of being a teenager with a car was “dragging main,” along Yosemite Avenue. Beginning at the Big Top Drive In at Q Street one headed towards downtown, turning around at the Snow White Drive In. As the shampoo commercials say, lather, rinse, and repeat. While in retrospect it sounds like a waste of gasoline, Madera had no other place for young people to gather.
Social media have made it possible to be in close touch with these childhood friends. We have a group page where we post photos and exchange news. This weekend we are getting the ol’ gang back together.
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Long days and pleasant nights, and have a good weekend.
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