Tag Archive | Eisenhower High School Yakima

Class Reunion

A snapshot in time

August 16, 2022

It occurred to me, after attending a class reunion this weekend, that somehow I’m pretty certain I’ve managed to attend all of the ones for my high school class.

A reunion book was produced for both our 10 and 20 year reunions

I suppose that’s not really a surprise, after all I was Editor of our yearbook my Senior year and have always had a keen interest in people’s stories. Attending a reunion is simply a continuation of those stories; an opportunity to get a snapshot every few years of those who were a part of the early years of our lives.

Before I go much further, however, I know all my regular readers will be glad to learn that the Infallible Wikipedia has a page for the topic ‘class reunion’ as follows:

“A class reunion is a meeting of former classmates, often organized at or near their former high school or college by one or more class members. It is scheduled near an anniversary of their graduation, e.g. every 5 or 10 years. Their teachers and administrators may also be invited. Those attending reminisce about their student days and bring one another up to date on what has happened since they last met.”

But I don’t think the Infallible Wikipedia’s description does the topic justice. So I started thinking about my Eisenhower High School reunions through the years. At our ten year reunion – the first one we had – there were easily a couple hundred who attended. Our venue was one of the buildings at the Central Washington State Fair Grounds and, besides a dinner and dancing, included a photographer who was taking photos which could be purchased.

At the time, the hubby and I were DINKY’s (back in the 1980’s a DINKY stood for Double Income No Kids Yet). The snapshot of that night was one of people in their late 20’s, still trying to figure out their place in the world. Some had children and, although I did not, I can still see the look of complete exhaustion on the faces of those women. But I didn’t yet understand what that was like, as careers were everything in my world that reunion. At ten years, there was a weird game of one-upmanship still in play.

Truly, few of us had yet experienced some of life’s harder lessons. Perhaps the most sobering aspect of the 10 year reunion was the short list of those with whom we had graduated but who had already left this earth.

Fast forward five years, and the organizers (we have been blessed to have a team of, primarily, women who have made all of these happen!) planned a half decade reunion. This one, held in the early fall, included attending a home football game on Friday night and a picnic on Saturday.

Now, as a mother with an 8 month old baby, I left my son with the most reliable babysitters in the universe, his grandparents, and headed out to the stadium. Partway through the game, I look down from the bleachers only to see my Dad standing below motioning at me. My night out was over!

The next day, my not yet walking son and I attended the picnic and enjoyed the more casual setting and smaller numbers, getting advice from experienced moms and meeting many of their children also.

Year twenty the reunion was held in a big outdoor tent at a country club. At the ten and the 20 year reunions, A “tell us about your life” booklet had been produced and by year 20, the cliques and the labels of high school had started to blur.

The crowd at the 20 year reunion. Definitely a ‘Where’s Waldo’ sort of exercise to find myself in the photo.

One of my favorite snapshot moments was when I was talking to another girl when one of the guys from our class came over to talk to her. Still standing there and feeling a bit like a third wheel, there was suddenly a lull in the conversation and I blurted out to the guy, who we will call Adam, “I had the worst crush on you in Junior High.” I seem to recall he choked on his drink and nearly spit it out.

With my BFF’s from high school on our way to the 40 year reunion in 2015

Onward the years have marched. Our group celebrated with a 35 and also a 40 and then, in 2020, a planned 45 year reunion was sidetracked.

Two years passed but our fearless organizers pressed on and proclaimed that 2022 would be our “Medicare Reunion.”

Suddenly, all those 17 and 18 year old kids I attended high school with were starting to retire. Most everyone had lost one or both parents; more names have been added to the dreaded ‘list’; there have been triumphs and disappointments; incredible joy and devastating sorrow; the loss of siblings; the loss of spouses; the loss of children. The cliques and labels have disappeared and what’s left are people who can simply enjoy a few hours of telling their stories and hearing other’s stories.

It’s the context which matters. These are the people who shared beginnings either in elementary school, junior high, or high school. When we look at each other we can remember the person and how they looked then. We can see past the wrinkles and gray hair. Their essence is still very much the same but is, I think, tempered by the experiences of life. We are kinder and more forgiving.

One of my classmates – who traveled from California for the event – said it best. My apologies for the paraphrase: It’s about the people and making connections with each other. And it’s important.

Our 2022 ‘Medicare’ reunion

Time – and Covid – have taught us all these things and can be summed up in my favorite Latin phrase: Carpe Diem.

So the next time your high school or college, sorority or fraternity, or any other group you’ve belonged to, plans a reunion, Go. Go and connect with the people who knew you ‘when.’ Laugh. Cry. Enjoy. Hug. And be sure to tell them how much you appreciate them having been a part of your life.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_reunion

High School Graduation

Endings and Beginnings

June 7, 2022

For any individual over the age of 18 this event is, perhaps, one of the most seminal and memorable of their life.

Photo from the author’s Senior year annual, the Reveille

The High School Graduation represents so very much. For most it marks the official change from child to adult. It is also a sobering reminder that it is time to either get a job or go on to college. Whichever is the case, it truly represents the end of a phase of life.

The ceremony, known as Commencement, can trace its origins back some 800 years to Europe. At that time, of course, it was a rarefied event and confined to those few scholars who studied at universities AND only in Latin. The awarding of a degree was for the purpose of conferring recognition upon those few who were to be the teachers.

The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

“Ceremonies for graduating students date from the first universities in Europe in the twelfth century. At that time Latin was the language of scholars. A universitas was a guild of masters (such as MAs) with license to teach. ‘Degree’ and ‘graduate’ come from gradus, meaning ‘step’. The first step was admission to a bachelor’s degree. The second step was the masters step, giving the graduate admission to the universitas and license to teach. Typical dress for graduation is gown and hood, or hats adapted from the daily dress of university staff in the Middle Ages, which was in turn based on the attire worn by medieval clergy.

Graduation Announcement

The tradition of wearing graduation hats in Sweden has been in place since the mid-eighteenth century. The cap is typically a white sailor hat with a black or dark blue band around it, a crown motif, and a black peak at the front. The graduation hat tradition was initially adopted by students at Uppsala University. The headgear then became popular across several other European nations as well.”

In the United States, graduation ceremonies became popular for high schools but, alas, the Infallible Wikipedia tells us nothing as to when that tradition began. In recent years ‘graduations’ have been adopted by Junior High, Middle, and elementary schools. When my children were little, even their ‘pre-schools’ held ‘graduation’ with the tots donning mortar board hats and sharing what they liked best about pre-school.

The months of May and June are prime commencement season. My own high school graduation, from Dwight D. Eisenhower HS, took place on June 6.

What is interesting is how much of that night I remember. My high school had a tradition of the Seniors having an ‘all night’ party following the ceremony. At the time I didn’t recognize the purpose of the party. It was not so the young adults could go crazy… it was to keep them from going crazy and, it was hoped, to keep them safe.

In many ways, my High School graduation encapsulated all of the joys and sorrows of life in a single moment.

It was a typical June day in Yakima. The high was 77 degrees but by graduation time it was in the mid 60’s. There was a steady 16 mph wind blowing with some higher gusts.

The author the afternoon before her graduation

My class of 365 graduates assembled just outside the doors at the north end of the gymnasium and awaited the moment we were to walk in. Our parents and families occupied the bleachers, no doubt fanning themselves with the programs, constantly rearranging themselves on the hard wooden benches.

In our line, there was whispering as thoughts and gossip were exchanged. Someone mentioned that a pair of our classmates had recently gotten married due to her getting pregnant. The young woman of the couple had been a good friend in junior high and, although we had drifted apart, the news rattled me.

But it was the information I heard next which, just as the line started to move, literally shook me to my core.

To this day, I cannot recall who told me. Yet the moment is firmly etched in my mind. The older brother of a good friend had been killed in an automobile accident in the early hours of June 6. Although he had been living with his father (their parents were divorced) in Western Washington, he had a good relationship with his siblings and his mother who did live in Yakima. He was only 20 years old.

That sobering moment likely affected the perception of my graduation. Yes, we still cheered and threw our mortar boards in the air; Yes, we had our all night –and alcohol free – party; yes, all our graduates survived the night – even those who skipped the school approved event.

And sometime in the next few days I went to see my friend and her mother, both of them deep in the grief of losing a brother and a son.

That summer I turned 18 and began to prepare for the next phase of my life: college. The month of June, it turned out, was a time of endings but also beginnings, of learning in classes and out of classes, of sorrow but also joy.

All the years of school leading up to graduation had not quite prepared me for the most important lesson I’ve ever learned: embrace each moment and never, ever take for granted a single day.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduation

The Driver’s Test

40 was the magic number

August 3, 2021

At one time this test was an important rite of passage for the American teenager, an indication that they were about to enjoy one of the privileges of adulthood: being able to drive.

For one Mariam Hargrave of Yorkshire, England, no doubt it was an ordeal. It was on August 3, 1970, when the 62 year old finally passed her driving test. Although the Infallible Wikipedia has an article about driver’s tests, they ignore poor Mrs. Hargraves. Instead, I was able to glean this information:

“By April 1970 Mrs. Miriam Hargrave had failed her test thirty-nine times. In the eight preceding years she had received two hundred and twelve driving lessons at a cost of £300. She set the new record while driving triumphantly through a set of red traffic lights in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Disappointingly, she passed at the fortieth attempt (3 August 1970) but eight years later she showed some of her old magic when she was reported as saying that she still didn’t like doing right-hand turns. — Stephen Pile, ‘The Book of Heroic Failures’”

Back in 1970’s Yakima it was a big deal to learn how to drive. By the time I was in high school, they were offering Driver’s Ed classes which involved learning the rules of the road and practicing driving. I doubt there were any braver educators anywhere than those who willingly climbed into a car with a 15 ½ year old, hormone driven, child and allowed them to command a 2,000 pound vehicle on city streets.

Yet, they did. I seem to recall my Driver’s Ed teacher, Mr. Breshears, always popping antacid tablets. I suppose the only thing which gave the instructors any comfort at all was the fact that the cars were equipped with a set of brakes for the front seat passenger.

Our simulators looked something like this set up from 1969.

Three students at a time would go drive with the teacher. It was a bit terrifying since not all budding drivers had the benefit of a parent who worked with them after school. There was one student I recall who tested Mr. Breshears patience each time they got behind the wheel. Those instructor brakes got quite the workout.

But the favorite part of Driver’s Ed class was getting to go to the Simulator. It was a windowless trailer which had been equipped with two parallel rows of seats, separated by an aisle sort of like being on a bus, and all faced forward. Each station had a steering wheels, brakes, etc. to look like the driver’s area of a car. At the front of the trailer was a large screen. Once all the students were settled into their places, the lights would be dimmed and the screen would come to life as though one was behind the wheel, driving down the street. It was our job to accelerate in unison with what we saw on the screen. It was also imperative that we hit the brakes at the right time.

From the IKE Reveille year book, 1972

Driver’s training films seemed to mostly consist of tree lined city blocks which, at first, seemed like lovely enclaves of blissful American life. But no. Those streets were every driver’s worst nightmare. Balls of all sorts would suddenly bounce out into the road followed by adorable tikes chasing them. Woe unto those who didn’t hit the brakes in time!

There were dogs and cats; there were other vehicles; things fell off the backs of trucks, branches crashed down. Who knew how truly hazardous things could be in one bucolic town?

Of course, some cheeky student would purposefully ‘run’ over the simulated hazards and a little red light would illuminate on their console, publically shaming them for an egregious infraction. I always wondered if students who ‘ran’ over cats, dogs, and children, failed the course.

Over the years I have learned just how accurate those simulations were as I’ve encountered many of the hazards portrayed. Thankfully, it’s only occasionally that such things happen. The hubby and I, if we are in the car together, will comment in unison ‘Driver’s Training film!’ when something we experienced in the simulator occurs in real life.

This photo is from the Eisenhower High School 1972 annual. The headline above this proclaimed “380 license-hungry students swamp driver education course this year.” Apparently there were a bunch of us who turned 16 that year.

The  instruction I received was successful and on my 16th birthday I took the tests – written and driving – and emerged as a licensed driver and, despite losing points for parallel parking, never came close to Mariam Hargrave’s, 212 lessons, eight years of time, and over $700 (US) spent.

The links:

An entertaining look at early simulators:

https://www.dmv-written-test.com/washington/practice-test-1.html?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=%2Bwa%20%2Bstate%20%2Bdriver%27s%20%2Btest%20%2Bpractice&utm_campaign=DMV%20-%20Search%20-%20WA%20-%20EN%20-%20CAR~Driver%20Question%20Test&msclkid=ee5a27bd586710c0735246b5495d31f5# (Can you pass the written test for Washington State?)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_test

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Heroic_Failures

Anything Goes

Take A Bow

November 10, 2020

The cover from Eisenhower’s production of Anything Goes in 1975

Now, 86 years after the fact, the musical Anything Goes is showing its age. One thing about it has aged well, however, and that would be the music of Cole Porter. For those unfamiliar with the musical, here’s some background from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Anything Goes is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The original book was a collaborative effort by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse, heavily revised by the team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy Number 13, ‘Moonface’ Martin, aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. The musical introduced such songs as ‘Anything Goes,’ ‘You’re the Top,’ and ‘I Get a Kick Out of You.’

Since its 1934 debut at the Alvin Theatre (now known as the Neil Simon Theatre) on Broadway, the musical has been revived several times in the United States and Britain and has been filmed twice. The musical has long been a popular choice for school and community productions.”

The best way to describe Anything Goes is as a wild adventure with hidden identities, love triangles, and a whole lot of sexual innuendo. It was, in its day, considered inappropriate. Hence the title.

Despite its racy themes, Porter’s lyrics are masterfully written and crisp and so very sing able.

My readers will be forgiven if they’ve never heard of the show.

I had never heard of it either until December of 1974 when my high school choir director, Mr. Jim Durado, announced that our spring musical would be Anything Goes.

To be clear, I never had a shot for any sort of solo singing role in the production. In fact, Mr. Durado was legendary at our high school for somehow selecting musicals which seemed to ‘fit’ the students who filled the leads. That was, I’m certain, by design.

And so it was for Anything Goes. The lead role was for a female and he had a very talented vocalist who he cast as Reno Sweeney. More about that a bit later.

My role, however, was also a rather important one and I was selected by Mr. Durado specifically for it as surely as he picked any particular cast member.

It all began the previous spring when he asked me if I would be his Teacher’s Assistant (TA) for the following year. It required me to have TA as one of my classes. I said yes.

During the course of that year, I ran every errand, copied copious amounts of sheet music, tracked down students, kept attendance records, and made sure things happened on time. If there was a job to do, he gave it to me to get it done. When it came time to start rehearsals, my post was to sit at the mid-point of the theatre, three rows back from the stage, and follow along in the script. If someone needed prompting, I was the one to do it.

My photo was in the program along side all the lead actors

Every day after school – for three months – we rehearsed. I swear it became a muscle memory thing because to this day I can sing most of the songs without missing a word. For a number of years I could even say all the lines of every character.

It was a great experience and I am forever indebted to Mr. Durado for trusting me to do the job.

For Mr. Durado, however, 1975 turned out to be a time fraught with conflict. As a student, I was not privy as to what was going on his life. All I know is that there were moments when I would wonder what I had done to make him so sullen and incommunicative. It took months to learn the truth.

We were only a couple weeks in to rehearsals when the lead he’d chosen to portray Reno Sweeney told him she couldn’t take the role as she was very uncomfortable with the innuendo and believed it violated her faith. Thus the scrambling began to find a replacement. Another senior, Jennifer, was quickly selected and her part was then given to Mr. Durado’s own daughter. There was some amount of complaint from the cast who felt that a different girl deserved the role.

Reno and Sir Evelyn – aka Jennifer and Doug – during a performance

But the show, as they say, must go on. The next couple of months saw the production come together and, on March 19, 1975, Anything Goes opened. The page in my yearbook states:

“The eighty member cast worked three months in preparation for the standing ovations they justly received. Mr. Jim Durado proudly produced and directed his tenth musical production, one which originally opened on Broadway in 1934.”

By April, the intense schedule of rehearsals and a successful musical behind us, it was time to focus on recruitment for the next year. In addition to the main choir, there was a 16 person four part harmony swing choir, called Lancers. It was THE premiere vocal group at the school and dozens would vie for a coveted spot. Tryouts were looming for that and several performances by both groups were on the schedule.

One morning in mid-May, however, Mr. Durado was not at school. I cannot to this day recall exactly how I heard the news. It was probably announced to the whole choir when we arrived for class. But Mr. Durado had been shot by his wife. The bullet hit near his shoulder. He was alive and was in the hospital and that was all we were told.

That afternoon – in spite of the shock – the entire choir went to Franklin Junior High to perform a scheduled show. Somehow we got through it with a substitute teacher. The memory which sticks in my head from that day is that a group of a half dozen girls were walking out of the Junior High after the performance and everyone was talking about it; some of the girls were crying. All of us were upset.

I did go see Mr. Durado in the hospital a day or two later. He was making jokes about how bad a shot his wife was. It was surreal.

Less than a month after I graduated and heard little more about my teacher. The next year there was a new choir director who had huge shoes to fill. From Mr. Durado’s first musical production in 1966 until his last in 1975, he had built a dynasty.

Being in choir was cool. Those who were selected for Lancers were the coolest (I was not in that group!) It was getting to participate in the musical, however, that was everything. My oldest brother was in Funny Girl – which was Mr. Durado’s second production – in 1967. My cousin Susan was selected for the role of Mrs. Paroo in 1973’s The Music Man. That was also my sister’s first of two years in the cast; in 1974 both my sister and I were in The Most Happy Fella. I closed out our family participation with Anything Goes.

Mr. Durado moved back to his home state of Montana after he recovered from his wounds. From an adult perspective I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult the whole situation must have been for the family, especially for his daughters. No shortage of victims in this story but it seems as if it’s often the kids who are most hurt.

Mr. Durado lived out his days in Montana, taking his final bow on March 19, 2013…38 years to the day from the opening night of the last musical he produced and directed, Anything Goes.

A couple of links:

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/195146855/james-rocco-durado

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anything_Goes

Fiddler On The Roof

Tradition!

November 3, 2020

Until November 3, 1971, this musical play could only be viewed on Broadway or in a community or school production. With the release of the movie, however, Fiddler On The Roof, cemented its place as one of the best musicals ever.

The 1971 Movie Poster

Prior to being made into a film Fiddler was a Broadway staple. The Infallible Wikipedia sheds a bright spotlight on its history:

“The original Broadway production of the show, which opened in 1964, had the first musical theatre run in history to surpass 3,000 performances. Fiddler held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run. The production was extraordinarily profitable and highly acclaimed. It won nine Tony Awards, including best musical, score, book, direction and choreography. It spawned five Broadway revivals and a highly successful 1971 film adaptation and has enjoyed enduring international popularity.”

What’s so captivating about Fiddler is its unique story. The audience – from the first notes of the fiddle’s haunting tunes – is immersed in the pre-Russian revolution community of Anatevka.

Soon the viewer sees the world through the eyes of Tevye, a Jewish peasant ‘blessed’ with five daughters and no sons. Tevye narrates the entire play through words and song in an often humorous yet bittersweet evaluation of his – and his fellow villager’s – life.

What ties it all together, however, is the incredible music. From the foot tapping lament of If I were A Rich Man, to the witty Matchmaker, and the wistful Sunrise, Sunset, each song expertly captures the feeling of a unique time and place in history.

Fiddler – perhaps more than any other musical to grace the silver screen – is a serious film which explores the foibles of human nature and one’s ability to adapt to change.

I know I saw the film in the theater as a teenager and also a production of it at Eisenhower Sr. High (IKE) in Yakima in the spring of 1972. The IKE production, in fact, was the event which inspired my resolve to be in the choir since you had to be in that group if you wanted to perform in the musical.

I was in my ninth grade year – in junior high – when I wrote this diary entry on March 24, 1972:

“I went to ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ It was very good, we had front row seats and I felt like the lead was singing to us in some parts. It was really neat.”

First of all, a big thank you to my parents for being first in line and purchasing the front row seats. Second, that is not the most eloquent bit of writing, but I’ll forgive my 14 year old self…at least she captured the moments. I bought a book of Fiddler songs on sheet music and learned to play many of them on the piano. I even sang Matchmaker for a talent competition… I no longer recall WHY I thought this was a good idea (it wasn’t) or the specific event… but I was much more fearless then.

A page from the 1972 IKE yearbook, Reveille, of the Fiddler on The Roof production. I wanted to be just like this group, on stage singing in a musical.

Years later, when my kids got to about ages 8 and 11, I hatched an idea. The hubby and I ordered and installed an 8 foot by 8 foot movie screen. A speaker system was set up to create surround sound and thus we created a part time media center in our living room.

This all coincided with my discovery that the King County Library ‘rented’ to anyone who held a library card films on DVD and VHS. And when I say rent, I mean for free. The catch was that you had to put a hold on the movies you wanted and then wait until the email notice arrived advising that a particular one was ready to be picked up. Much less expensive than Blockbuster and with an element of surprise; we never knew which movie would be the one for any particular Saturday night.

And thus began my mission to introduce my kids to every musical ever produced. My budding film critics soon developed opinions about every selection I brought home. My daughter, for example, declared the musical Carousel as The Worst. Musical. Ever. Personally, I would put it up against The Fantasticks for that title.

The Worst. Musical. Ever.

On the night of Fiddler, the sights and sounds of 1905 Russia filled the room and the whole family was enthralled. For me it was as if visiting with an old friend for a couple of hours. I tamped down my temptation to sing along and once again enjoyed the wonderful story and characters.

Finally, when I had exhausted all the musicals available through the library, I asked my children one day of all those we had watched, which was their favorite? While I don’t recall what my daughter said, my son did not hesitate: Fiddler On The Roof. An opinion he confirmed recently.

As for me and my dream of being in the cast of my high school’s musical… well, that’s a story for next week.

To learn more about the incomparable Fiddler, one needs only to access The Infallible Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddler_on_the_Roof

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddler_on_the_Roof_(film)

L’Chaim!

American Graffiti

Where Were You In ’62?

August 11, 2020

AMerican graffitiWhen one thinks of Modesto, Californina, it is likely to be associated with an American experience which occurred primarily from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Having a car had become a status symbol and driving it among one’s peers – or cruising as its known – became an essential element of growing up. On August 11, 1973, the film American Graffiti was released, serving to enshrine the cruiser phenomenon into our shared culture.

The film was a dark horse hit that year, capturing five academy award nominations including one for best picture. It was George Lucas’ first film, show-casing his talent as an ‘outside the box’ filmmaker.

The original budget was only $600,000, which forced Lucas to use mostly unknown actors, a limited film crew, and to secure low cost contracts for the music. The lack of money kept the film from having an original soundtrack, only two cameramen, and truly launched the careers of Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford.

To encapsulate the main plot, we turn to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“On their last evening of summer vacation in September 1962, recent high school graduates and longtime friends Curt Henderson and Steve Bolander meet two other friends, John Milner, the drag-racing king of the town, and Terry ‘The Toad’ Fields, in the parking lot of the local Mel’s Drive-In in Modesto, California. Curt and Steve are scheduled to travel ‘Back East’ the following morning to start college. Despite receiving a $2,000 scholarship from the local Moose Lodge, Curt has second thoughts about leaving Modesto. Steve gives Terry his 1958 Chevrolet Impala to care for until he returns at Christmas. Steve’s girlfriend, Laurie, who is also Curt’s sister, arrives in her car. Steve suggests to Laurie, who is already glum about him going to college, that they see other people while he is away to ‘strengthen’ their relationship. Though not openly upset, she is displeased, which affects their interactions the rest of the evening.”

Rather than have a main protagonist, Lucas saw the four main male characters has being equal, all based on various stages of his adolescent self. Although somewhat cliché’ now, the four loosely represent the college man, the popular guy, the nerd, and the greaser. The entire movie takes place during the one night and culminates the next morning with information as to what happens with each of the four. At the time it was a unique storytelling method.

As word started to get around Universal Studios that the film was good, funds were put in place for marketing and other studio support. It paid off. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

dreyfuss

Richard Dreyfuss as Curt Henderson

“Produced on a $777,000 budget, it has become one of the most profitable films of all time. Since its initial release, American Graffiti has garnered an estimated return well over $200 million in box-office gross and home video sales, not including merchandising. In 1995, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’ and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.”

hARRISON FORD

Bob Falfa, aka Harrison Ford

Perhaps the thing I find most interesting about this film as well as others from the 1970’s (see my post from July 28th on the film Animal House; link below) is that the adults in charge at that time truly did not understand the impact the Baby Boomers exerted on the culture. 1973, the year that American Graffiti appeared, there were 37 million teenagers and another 21 million in the generation were ages 20 to 27. For those 58 million people the storylines in American Graffiti resonated.

On the day the movie was released I was 16 years old, possessed a ten day old driver’s license, and lived in a city where the cruising culture was king.

yakima mid 1960's

This is the Yakima I remember as a girl in the 1960’s. I’ve seen this photo dozens of times and the bustle never ceases to amaze me.

Everyone there knew the term “Dragging the Ave” which meant cruising up and down Yakima Avenue. Initially, I was forbidden by my parents to drive on the Ave after dark. But, being the youngest of four, the other three had done an outstanding job of bending the rules for me and I’m not sure what, exactly, happened, but by the time I was a junior in high school, I was a regular in the Friday and Saturday night promenades.

One thing I never did was drag the ‘Ave’ solo. I participated with a variety of friends, but my frequent partners in crime were my two best buddies who – to provide them a bit of anonymity – will henceforth be called by their aliases Deborah and Cynthia.

On the particular night which stands out, it was Deborah riding shotgun. A warm summer’s evening and the opportunity to see and be seen was at its best.

SchoolLogo_1403Now, in Yakima in the mid-1970’s, there were two major high schools: AC Davis and Dwight D. Eisenhower (IKE). Yes, there were other high schools in the surrounding communities, but those two were the biggies. We attended IKE.

To us, those who attended Davis were cross-town rivals and somewhat of a mystery; a forbidden fruit, if you will. Although we recognized a few who attended Davis, for the most part we didn’t know them and they didn’t know us.davis

So Deborah and I are driving along and, at one of the stoplights, a car carrying a couple of guys is idling next to my car and we engage in a shouted conversation between the two vehicles. Mostly it’s Deborah doing the talking out the passenger side window. There’s flirting and banter. The light changes, we drive on.

At the next light, or perhaps the one after, first names are exchanged. Then one of the guys says to Deborah, ‘what’s your last name?’

To which she replies, “Guess.”

The two of us giggle away as the guys venture forth with such answers as “Smith? Jones?”

Deborah replies, “Nope.”

More names are proffered then followed by the same question “what’s your last name?”

And the same answer “Guess.”

This went on for at least two runs up and down Yakima Avenue as the guys try to get us to stop and meet them in person. The name guessing continues until Deborah says to me “These guys are not very bright, are they?”

All because they kept asking the same question and never understanding that she was, in fact, telling them her last name. Every. Single. Time. By now you, the reader, should have ‘Guess’-ed it, but they never did.

Once we became bored with the game, Imanaged to ‘lose’ them and soon the night was over and by the time I was 19 or 20, ‘Dragging the Ave’ had lost its appeal, relegated to the status of a cultural reference.

Thanks to American Graffiti, that phenomenon is preserved. Future generations who happen upon the movie will, perhaps, regret that they did not live in the era of muscle cars, cheap gas, and summer nights dragging the Ave.

Although the tagline was ‘Where were you in ’62?’ it was the summer of ’73 and American Graffiti which was the defining year for the Baby Boomers.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Graffiti

https://barbaradevore.com/2018/04/17/1965-ford-mustang

https://barbaradevore.com/2020/07/28/animal-house

Answer to the Facebook question: Van Nuys Blvd, Los Angeles. 1972

cruising van nuys blvd 1972

The Oracle of Bacon

One Degree or Another

September 4, 2018

kevin bacon kyra sedgwickToday’s historical event really isn’t that much of an event but more an excuse to write about a topic which amuses this author. First of all happy 30th wedding anniversary to Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. They were married September 4, 1988. Unlike a great number of Hollywood marriages, their marriage has lasted three decades and, apparently, they’ve only ever been married to each other!

But as I said, that event is but an excuse to write about the cultural phenomenon known as the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

The genesis of the concept first appeared in 1996 when four Albright college students watched two movies one evening, both of which featured Kevin Bacon. No doubt, as these things go, the four probably had been consuming alcohol when they began speculating on the connections between Bacon and other actors.

Bacon himself said in an earlier interview, in January 1994 with Premiere magazine, that he “had worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who’s worked with them.”

From the Infallible Wikipedia, here’s how it works:

animal-house-kevin-bacon

Kevin Bacon (Right) as Chip Diller along with Kent Dorfman – played by Stephen Furst in the classic Animal House.

“Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a parlor game based on the ‘six degrees of separation’ concept, which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest path between an arbitrary actor and prolific actor Kevin Bacon. It rests on the assumption that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Bacon within six steps. In 2007, Bacon started a charitable organization called SixDegrees.org.”

In the past 20 years, the concept has become a cultural phenomenon, and references to the game have been made in movies, books, TV and even a couple of parody songs. Despite his initial dislike of the game, Bacon himself has come to embrace it and, no doubt, it has been a benefit to his long career.

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In 2009, Bacon narrated a National Geographic Channel show ‘The Human Family Tree’ – a program which describes the efforts of that organization’s Genographic Project to establish the genetic interconnectedness of all humans. In 2011, James Franco made reference to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon while hosting the 83rd Academy Awards. In the summer of 2012, Google began to offer the ability to find an actor’s Bacon number on its main page, by searching for the actor’s name preceded by the phrase ‘bacon number’. EE (UK internet provider) began a UK television advertising campaign on November 3, 2012, based on the Six Degrees concept, where Kevin Bacon illustrates his connections and draws attention to how the EE 4G network allows similar connectivity.”

oracleTo find any actor’s ‘Bacon Number’ you can go to this link: https://oracleofbacon.org/

Even those of us who are not actors and have never appeared in a movie with or without Kevin Bacon can, however, discern our ‘Bacon Number’.

I went to the link and then figured out ‘who’ I personally know who might have a connection. What I discovered: my Bacon number is Three.

Kyle MacLachlan Twin Peaks

Kyle Maclachlan in Twin Peaks

How? I went to high school with Kyle MacLachlan (he spelled it McLachlan then) at Eisenhower HS in Yakima. Kyle, for those who do not know, starred as Special Agent Dale Cooper in the TV show Twin Peaks and also as Paul Atreides in the movie Dune. He’s had a decade’s long, solid acting career. His Bacon number is Two assigned as follows: He was in a Twin Peaks episode with James Marshall who was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon.

michael Tucker

Michael Tucker

Or, I can get to Kevin Bacon through my brother who had a minor walk on role in the movie The Secret Life of Archie’s Wife (1990) starring Michael Tucker. Michael Tucker was in Diner (1982) with Kevin Bacon. So via this connection I also get a Bacon number of three. Kevin (0) – Michael (1) –Peter (2) – Barb (3).

Now let the games begin… what is YOUR Bacon number?

And a couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees_of_Kevin_Bacon (Yes, there really is a Wikipedia page JUST for this!)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Bacon (And one for the actor himself)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyle_MacLachlan (Yakima’s famous son has one too!)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Tucker_(actor) (As does Michael Tucker)

I plucked this historical photo of Kyle (right photo, wearing the all black outfit) from the pages of my high school annual (I was the Editor so I probably handled this photo and, possibly, either wrote or made changes to the caption) in one of his early roles acting. He would have been 16 in this photo. Kyle M early years.jpg

This entry was posted on September 5, 2018.