I attended my 40th high school reunion this past weekend. It was my first-ever -- I was a new kid in a class of some 650, was shy, quiet, relatively studious and decidedly not cool, so my memories of that time are not particularly fond.
But a high school reunion is something everybody ought to experience once, and by now enough time has elapsed for life and gravity to have leveled the playing field. Plus, as a practical matter, by the 40th, you're kind of looking at a now-or-never situation.
So I went, and came away with one overarching realization: I've been absent from the moment for a very long time.
This is a picture of my high school, one that doesn't do it justice at all. It's a fabulous building, designed in 1929, built during the first years of the Great Depression and opened in 1931.
It's testament to the value the citizens of Topeka placed on the education of its young people in the 1930s. Its young white people, anyway -- the elementary school that became the focus of Brown v Board of Education is less than a dozen blocks up the street....
As I took the tour of the building arranged by the reunion committee, I saw it not only through fresh (albeit bifocaled) eyes -- I saw it for the first time. It's got interior details to die for -- marble and granite, millwork, great wood beams and doors. A 2,000 seat auditorium as fine as any you might on the register of historic places.
I spent three years in that building, walking those halls every school day, attending assemblies, pep rallies, plays and concerts in that lovely auditorium, and didn't notice the beauty around me.
Not a bit of it.
Mr. James has his work cut out for him.
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