Grads found fulfilling paths, planned or not

Day by Day
Grads found fulfilling paths, planned or not

By Liz Thompson

Jun 16, 2019
This Week News

Fifty years ago this month, I was one of nearly 400 high school seniors from Westerville (South) High School (in Ohio) who marched to “Pomp and Circumstance” to receive our graduation certificates.

Looking back, my main regret is I did not ask for help in my studies. Instead, I relied on my music ability to get me through life and onto my goal to become a music teacher.

That never happened. Best-laid plans and all that. But I know I’m not alone.

My classmates have tried to keep track of each others’ whereabouts over the years, yet we have lost track of about 60. As far as we know, 81 live in 29 other states, one lives in Newfoundland, one in France and two in Japan.

In 50 years, we know 49 classmates have died.

Dee (Weaston) Standish was a classmate of mine from kindergarten on. She now lives in Marietta. Her best-laid plans worked for her.

“My career turned out just the way I hoped it would,” she said. “I became a teacher, allowing me to work with children every day. I was in education until I retired.

“My advice to graduating seniors is to follow your passion, and it will help you find fulfillment in your chosen career.”

Barbara (Ralston) Thurber and her husband have lived in Austin, Texas, for 30 years.

“I would tell a graduating senior that life is going to give them many challenges,” Thurber said.

Her life has been interesting as a nurse.

“I served in the Air Force and have worked at many different places,” she said. “I have used my knowledge to take care of myself, my mother with cancer and my three daughters.”

Now her health prevents her from traveling to Ohio for our 50-year reunion.

Classmate Jim Garvie, now in Oklahoma, said his high school days were riddled with poor grades and anonymity as an introvert.

“No one gave me an outlook into what I could be or what I could do in the future,” Garvie said. “The moment I graduated and went to Bowling Green State University, it all changed. Loved college life, less structure and a reason to enjoy life.”

As his grades improved, he became involved in sports for the first time and began a major in physical education and teaching.

He found coaching and teaching health, science and driver’s education fun.

“I cannot believe I ended up in a career where I was paid to have fun,” Garvie said. “It’s the last thing I ever thought I would do in life.”

He knew there were students in high school who were like him at that age – unmotivated and with no clear future ahead.

“In classes, I developed a reward system where kids that behaved and did their work could earn extra credit and get the grades they wanted,” he said. “In football, I was able to get them involved as a team manager or actually on the teams, even if they were not athletically gifted.”

As a result of his teaching and coaching, he was hired by the Department of Defense to teach and coach on military bases in Japan, South Korea and Italy.

Many of my classmates are grandparents and have life experiences we never thought possible 50 years ago.

We sent a reunion survey to learn what people wanted to happen at the event.

Most wanted time to casually visit and reconnect, see memorabilia of our high school days and walk through the school building. They would love to see teachers and let them know the impact they had on their lives.

Music of the 1960s will play; name badges will halt the awkward moments because we have all changed in appearance. Laughter and maybe tears will happen along with memories.

Classmates from Massachusetts, Nevada, Kentucky, Wisconsin and all around Ohio will gather Aug. 3 to celebrate the 50-year mark in our lives. More than once, we will say, “Has it really been 50 years?”

We learned from our experiences and are wiser for them.

Take heed, graduates. Time passes quickly.

Advertisements

Anniversaries provide reason to reflect on past

Anniversaries provide reason to reflect on past

Day by Day
by Liz Thompson
This Week News
June 2, 2016

When I walk through the woods and forest glades I wander, and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees. When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze…

This verse in the hymn, How Great Thou Art always makes me emotional.

We camped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last month and we experienced all these words imply first hand.

This might not have been possible if a few determined people hadn’t gone many extra miles to make national parks part of our lives. What began in the 1850’s, became official 100 years ago this year. It wasn’t all pretty and it wasn’t all easy.

Some of the saddest pages in our nation’s history include when Native Americans, who had lived on these lands for generations, were driven off the lands. When our government finally had the opportunity to make National Parks in Alaska, they had a chance to “do it right.” The natives continued to be part of the culture, not excluded from it.

But we can focus on the end result of what these determined people did for our nation. First and foremost, to preserve the natural wonders– flora and fauna in all its purest form. And later, the wonders like Mount Rushmore and other monuments to people and historical events.

All this happened when communication was very basic – written letters and telephone. Transportation was by train and car – and many people did not own cars. If you wanted to travel from the East Coast out to California, it wasn’t easy going. I’m not even sure the condition of the roads.

Most of us can’t think back 100 years or even imagine what life might have been like. But preserving our history is important so we can learn from it and hopefully not make some of the same mistakes.

Preserving history also is celebratory.

Recently, my Mother came upon her mother’s wedding gown she had stored in her home. Another 100 year marker. The satin of the gown is in mint condition with only the delicate bodice and sleeves having become more fragile.

In my quest to find a home for this gown with a historical society, I wanted to get a copy of the February 27, 1916 Columbus Dispatch. The front page of the Society Section had a story about my grandparent’s wedding with a photo of the bride, her six bridesmaids and two flower girls.

My grandparents were married in a downtown Columbus church. 1,500 people attended and the reception at my great-grandparent’s home at 368 E. Broad greeted more than 300. The church still stands but not the large home.

I was amazed the paper copy my mother had of the story was still intact and, for the most part, we could see the photo and read the article. Personally, I’m glad I didn’t have 1,500 people at my wedding. My Mother and I were trying to imagine addressing invitations or writing thank you notes to all those people.

I learned the Dispatch only keeps papers in storage back to 1980. They suggested contacting the library, which I did.

Julie Callahan, of Reynoldsburg, Librarian in the Local History and Genealogy Department of the Columbus Metropolitan Library gave me the good news.

“We have every copy of the Columbus Dispatch since it began.”

I told her of the paper copy my mother had and that I wondered how it survived 100 years. Julie explained that paper in the 1800’s was fiber and lasted much longer. So the newspaper in 1916 was still a much higher quality paper than is used today.

Now I’ll have my copy to go with the dress once I find it a permanent home. No gown 100 years old should be hidden in storage.

Time does march on, but when I see my grandmother’s wedding gown I can’t help but wonder what was going through her mind as she placed the gown over her head and walked down the aisle. What gems did I miss in the 30-plus years I knew her?

She was starting married life the same year that the National Parks began.

I know she could play “How Great Thou Art” on the piano beautifully.

So while I walk through the woods, I can see the connection to the beauty in more ways than one.

For more information, go to: pbs.org/nationalparks