Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's OK, I'm with the Band

I drove out to Barboursville, West Virginia this past weekend for a 30 year high school reunion even though I didn't graduate from there. The kids had things going on, Fern had to get to the airport to fly to North Carolina and Kevin had swim lessons, so Dan covered them and I drove out alone.

(Dad worked for the Army Corp and we moved several times, so I attended a bunch of schools:
Davis Creek Elementary: 1st grade
Sukuran Elementary, Okinawa: 2nd and part of 3rd
Davis Creek: part of 3rd
Pea Ridge Elementary: the rest of 3rd through 6th
Barboursville Junior High: 7th-9th
Barboursville High School: part of 10th
James Wood High School, Winchester, VA: rest of 10th-12th)

I started band when I was in 6th grade and stuck with it until after high school. The whole band experience created great opportunities, wonderful friends and lifelong memories. It's unifying, no segregation by gender or athletic ability. We went to band camp together, football games, shows, competitions, exchange trips. By the time it was all said and done, you spent a huge hunk of your life during those seven years with your band mates. Like living in the Sousa House at Hogwarts.

Dan asked me whom I wanted to see at this reunion, why was I bothering to go, since I actually didn't finish school there. My answer: the band kids. I guess if you're not part of a group like that, you don't get it, you don't get the camaraderie.

It's not just me, either. The other band folks enjoy seeing each other too. It turns out there always seems to be a solid core of the band who show up at the reunions. One of my fellow flute players complemented me, although I'm not sure she knew she had. She told me she remembered I always had a pretty high-up chair, I was always pretty good. I had forgotten that and I appreciated her mentioning that. I remembered not being first chair or even second chair, so of course in my mind I remembered failure. Now I see it wasn't.

I'm amazed how time alters our memories, like how good of a musician I was. But in addition to that, my memories of the town of Barboursville, my neighborhoods, school buildings don't match reality. Since we moved away from there during my sophomore year, I never drove there, I didn't go out there. All my memories of those places are visual, how they looked, the landmarks where you turned to get places. I never learned the names of the streets.

I drove around to see the sights, where the schools were, to the houses I lived in, and the shops I went to. I didn't know how small my street was at the time, it seemed spacious where us kids played hide and seek and kick the can. It is really barely wider than one car. I drove around to all four schools and was disappointed. Many years ago they closed the high school and turned it into a middle school, and they razed the junior high and made it into a park. One elementary is boarded up, the other is the only one still open.

I had a great time reviving memories and friendships. And with Facebook it's easier to keep in touch than it used to be.

And now for some pictures:

233 Daughtery Drive. This is the first house we lived in in West Virginia. My bedroom was the window up on the left. Those trees weren't nearly as big back then. I think my folks bought this house for about $23,000.

Davis Creek Elementary, the only one of my four schools still open.

6159 Rosalind Court. We moved in here in the middle of my third grade when we came back from Okinawa. It was white back then and had a covered front porch, and no cutesy picket fence.

Pea Ridge Elementary School, what's left of it.

Main Street Barboursville. Looks pretty much the same as it did when I was at the junior high was across the street.

This is all that's left of the junior high, these steps go up to the park now.

The library is still blue.

Camden Park is still there. Barboursville is on the east end of Huntington. Dad's office was in Huntington, my orthodontist was in Huntington to which I'd ride the city bus. On the west end of town was the amusement park. We didn't go very often so it was a treat when we did go. It took several visits over several years to work up the courage to ride the big roller coaster. Looking at it now, it's just a rinky-dink old wooden coaster, nothing to be afraid of. But that's all part of that altered-perspective-of-youth thing.

When I went down town for my ortho appointments I'd often stop in the peanut shop afterward for a quarter pound of roasted pumpkin seeds, my favorite. Nice to see the shop is still there and open.

Here are some of kids from band. I guess we're all adult now, huh? Or pretend to be, anyway.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I stumbled in looking for images of Pea Ridge Elementary. I was there in the early 80s and at Barboursville Jr High until 1989 (moved to FL). I visited in the mid 00s and was horrified to see a field in place of the Jr high and my beloved PRE up for auction. I'm desperate to find photos from both places and just ordered a 1975 BJH yearbook for a cheap nostalgic fix. :) I lived on Lee St in Pea Ridge, but remembering just free roaming all over the area. Loved that pool next to BJS.

TLDR: thanks for taking the photos. I'm itching to visit, got family up there, and wanna take a ton of photos/video when I go again.

P.S. I'm also a programmer, but I didn't get into music until right after high school, just missing the school band thing.