My high school class celebrated its 50th reunion. (Booker T. Washington, Atlanta, GA). It was a blast. I had not seen any of them since graduation and had to walk around looking at name tags. Only two I recognized just from their faces. However, each was introduced and a video screen had the senior photo of that person displayed. I recognized all the old photos. I guess I evoked a similar reaction. Since I left Atlanta for college and never again socialized with any of my classmates, I was different from the vast majority of them who stayed in Atlanta. Only one other person came from out of town (Washington, DC). My close friends either had moved away from Atlanta or were dead. It was sobering to note that of the 354 who were in the class, 94 were now dead and almost a third of the dead males died in Viet Nam.
What was also interesting was that none of the organizers of the reunion were from the two college prep homerooms. I wonder if there were any lingering resentments amongst them. When you looked at the graduation program and the list of “best of” and honor diplomas all were from the college prep homerooms, only two of us attended. Moreover, just one person on the high honors list was still residing in Atlanta (I did an internet search). Interestingly enough, the college prep designation was apt in that all those I located were doctors, lawyers, professors and one was CEO of a venture capital firm (I wonder if he will vote for Obama).
Remarkably everyone looked great. There was not a single person who was overweight. Very few looked their age. All looked prosperous. One woman was the subject of a crush. I told her “you know I had the biggest crush on you”. She said that she knew but didn’t give me the time of day. That was not unexpected since I was a full two years younger than anyone in the class. I remember her as being much taller then – the only male in the class shorter than me was a midget. That was why I may have been the only person in the history of American high schools who never had a date. I was the same age as those two classes behind me, and generally shorter than even the girls. As a senior I wasn’t about to date eighth or ninth graders (we had 5 year high schools). I socialized with a group of super smart boys and girls. What happened to them? One of the girls is now an anesthesiologist in Alabama. I tracked her down when I learned of the death of her father and called her office. She called back to thank me but had no interest in any further contact – she never even inquired about me or my family. One of the girls was a teacher in DC who married the older brother of one of the boys in the group. We saw each other in DC a few times but it was apparent that we had drifted apart. Another girl was now dead. The last is married to a professor ironically at Ohio State and did not respond to my email (sent to her husband). The three guys are all dead (one in Viet Nam, one from a heart attack, one from AIDS).
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com