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Tales of a Hay Hauler: The reunion and the world

Brad Nelson Published on 25 August 2009

My 10-year high school reunion was an interesting event. The other evening, I looked over the group photo of those attending and had a hard time finding myself.

It probably had to do with looking for someone with gray hair. Quite a few of those in attendance were dressed and acting as they had in high school.

One of the shockers of this event was finding out that one young woman I had dated in high school was absent from the reunion because she was in jail in Chicago, along with others of a group of protesters either over the "Chicago Seven" trial or some political convention (whatever was going on there in 1974).

The 20-year event was different. Some of the graduating class had made some big bucks, and they seemed to be part of the quiet group. Most of the group appeared to be good, solid citizens, just dealing with jobs and teenagers.

There were a few, at both the 10- and 20-year events, who were dressed for and actively involved in the "Mate Hunt".

By the time the 30-year reunion rolled around, most had been there and done that, and were kind enough to refrain from too many stories that had the aroma of "El Toro".

I could easily find myself in the photo of the 30-year group. That was about the time I discovered how dignified I looked with a nice set of spectacles and heavily graying hair. Mellow seemed to be the attitude of this event.

The crowning victory of the 40-year gathering was that they had the music right. The band played the hits of the early sixties, since some of the class members had been in this band and other bands of the era.

In fact, Scott McDonald took over the drums for a few numbers, and later Dennis Swindle took over the microphone from the lead singer, and proved to one and all that he still had it!

At both the 30- and 40-year meets, I thought I had walked into the wrong place. The room was filled with these old, fat guys with gray or no hair! Time seemed much kinder to the ladies.

The only prize I won was a drawing for one of the door prizes. Someone else got the award for the whitest hair. I was not even nominated for most changed or most unchanged.

I was one child short of having the most children, and two short of having the most grandchildren. One lady got the award for most great-grandchildren, with one. Now this little lady, I guarantee, you would never pick off the street as being a great-grandmother.

The lovely lady I've shared everything with for the past almost 36 years was unable to resolve a schedule conflict, and I had to go by myself. I mentioned to her that some of our friends had commented that she must trust me a lot to let me go alone, remembering the antics of some of the divorcees at past reunions.

Elli replied that first of all, she was younger than anyone I went to high school with. In addition, since I did not seem to want one of them when they were in their prime, she doubted that I'd change my mind forty years later. She was, of course, right as usual.

As one of the MC's went over a list of things we had survived that are now either horribly dangerous or illegal (like riding in the back of a pickup truck, sleeping in cribs painted with lead-based paint, etc.), my mind drifted to the harrowbed and how this one farm implement had robbed now three generations of teenagers of the opportunity to learn to work.

And since picking hay out of the field was seldom a by-the-hour job, it taught young men to learn to work fast and hard. The more bales stacked, the more money. How times have changed.  FG