Photos, sometimes with Commentary, from a lay Catholic.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grand Blanc High School 40th Reunion

Last night we had a wonderful opportunity to visit with old friends. I had been asked to make some remarks to our class. Afterwards, people asked if I would post the text somewhere, so here it is. I hope you enjoy the short trip to the past, and back again. :-)

White Sunflower

GBHS Class of 1972 40th Reunion: Remarks by Lea Higgins McNulty, August 11, 2012.

I look around at all of us here tonight and I'm so very happy to be among you. It's wonderful to see your faces and renew our friendships. When Mark Zuckerberg created his Facebook enterprise, I don't think he imagined how those of us in our generation would find it such a wonderful tool to stay connected.

I'm also a little humbled by being asked to make some remarks tonight. I bet you didn't see that coming 40 years ago! There are probably some of you who never knew me in high school. For this, I am grateful! When I think of myself in the 1970s, I do so with a lot of cringing. I recall things I said, and just the general angst and insecurity that riddled a tall and lanky high school girl. And many of you were far more focused in school than I was! So often since I left you here, I have thought how much better it would have been had I paid more attention in class.

Looking back on our years at Grand Blanc, I feel nostalgia for days that seem simpler. Isn't that what each generation does? Isn't that what each generation says to the next? "Life was simpler then!" I now recognize that the days and the times in the past were not simpler at all. It was just my perspective in those days, and my relative lack of responsibility at the time that makes it seem so.

Yet there are things from those days that I do miss... I'm sure you feel the same. Mostly, I miss friends and family members who are gone from us now. And I miss the look of things. And I sure miss being in an 18 year old body! But there are many things I don't miss, and I don't think I'd go back and re-do high school.

My family moved to Grand Blanc from Grand Rapids just before we began Junior High. We only lived in Grand Blanc for 6 or 7 years and my parents then returned to Grand Rapids. I was the only one in my family who went through Jr. High and High School at Grand Blanc, and the only one who still lives in Michigan now. Call it destiny or whatever, it seemed that I was to be part of you, part of our class of 1972 at GBHS.

40 years ago, we were all in various stages of insecurity, self-awareness, with unknown potentials. We were a risky bet for sure, and the tail end of the baby boomers, we were ready to "do our thing". For some of us, our futures may have seemed  exciting and promising, and to others of us, the future may have felt overwhelming and uncertain. No matter how different we were from each other at the time, we were all young, inexperienced, and the thing we shared in common was our place in time.

So what was 1972?

Well, as far as the Economy goes:

• The average cost of a gallon of gas was 36¢. But cars only got 13.5 miles/gal, so maybe it's a wash.
• The average income per family in the US had risen to almost $12,000.
   But if you were African American, the average income per family was closer to $7,000 [$6,800]
   And if you were a woman working full time all year, your average income was only $6,000.
• A pair of jeans cost $12
• You could get a cup of coffee for about 10¢
• The Dow Jones closed above 1000 for the first time in history, and averaged 1020
• Inflation was 3.27%

What about Pop Culture?
We didn't have cell phones, personal computers, answering machines, cassette tapes, CDs, or iPods.

In fact, the first pocket calculators came out in 1972 and cost well over $100. LED was new!

Our music was Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Don Mclean, Arlo Guthrie, Elton John, the Eagles, The Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Cream.

Nightly TV shows included Gunsmoke, Adam 12, Marcus Welby, and a host of variety shows like Paul Lynde, Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, Laugh-In, and Dean Martin.

We listened to records, or 8-track tapes, or reel to reel tape recorders, and wrote on typewriters, if we were lucky enough to have one.

People wore polyester jump suits, double knit pant suits and were fashionable carrying a clear plastic bubble umbrella that would keep you covered while allowing you to see through it!

The Volkswagen Beetle became the most popular car in history, easily spotted on the road and giving acceptable outlets for our aggression with the "Pee Wee Punch"

The new movies, which have become iconic now, were:
  Dirty Harry, Clockwork Orange, and The Godfather.

On the World Scene:

• Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky to become the World Chess Champion
• The largest diamond was mined in Sierra Leone: The Star of Leone, weighing nearly 970 carats!
• Ceylon became an independent republic and changed its named to Sri Lanka
• Idi Amin took control of British firms and interests in Uganda and began his reign of terror
• In 1972 there were major earthquakes in Bingol, Turkey, Ghir, Iraq, and Managua, Nicaragua, leaving thousands dead and thousands more, homeless
• Hurricane Agnes blew through in June of that year killing 117 in the NY and PA region, [particularly in Elmira and Wilkes-Barre]
• It was also the year of the infamous airplane crash in the Andes, where an Uruguayan chartered plane carrying a rugby team, crashed in the mountains in October and were not rescued for 72 days; the story, as you know, prompted books and movies
• The Olympics took place in Munich, Germany, where Mark Spitz won a record breaking 7 Gold Medals, but the year also, where arguably the greatest Olympic tragedy occurred. This was the year of the Munich Massacre, when on Sept 5, Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village and the residences of the Israeli athletes, and took hostages. The world looked on in horror as 11 Israeli athletes were killed in a 23 hour standoff and an ineffective rescue attempt.

On the National Scene:

• We were in the middle of space exploration. In 1969 we witnessed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon. Anything seemed possible!

• In 1972 the Space Shuttle program was launched.
  40 years later, today, we're watching as images from Mars are sent from the land rover, "Curiosity"!

• Environmental issues were at the forefront of our minds. We saw the first Earth Day during our high school years, and in 1972 the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments went into effect.

• Our childhood was peppered with fears of a foreign attack. We grew up through the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis with subsequent concerns about Soviet missile expansion in Cuba

• We saw the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert Kennedy.

• We felt the conflict of the Vietnam war; the young men of our class registered for the draft in our senior year. We watched, in the nightly news, reports of the havoc the war brought on families and our nation. In August of 1972 the last ground troops were pulled out of Vietnam.

• We lived through what is now called the "Nixon Era".
  President Richard Nixon was in office from 1968 through 1974.
  - In 1972, he initiated détente and the anti-ballistic missile treaty with the Soviet Union.
  - He helped to enforce desegregation in the Southern schools.
  - He imposed wage and price controls in an effort to control inflation, and
  - He travelled to China, opening up communications between our two nations after 22 years of hostilities.
  - In 1972, President Nixon ran for a second term against SD Gov. George McGovern, where McGovern lost in a landslide.

• But sadly, we watched as the highest office in the land unravelled before our eyes.
 The Watergate Investigation was broadcast on TV day after day... piecing together the events around 5 White House operatives who had been arrested for burglarizing the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and the subsequent coverup which led to the House Judiciary Committee approving the Articles of Impeachment in July 1974. President Nixon resigned in shame in August of 1974 to avoid formal impeachment.

That was then. Here we are in 2012. There is a reason we are still here. Look what 40 years of effort can do! Look what we've done.

Some of us have achieved awards and recognition for accomplishments. Some of us, with innovative thinking, have changed the way work gets done. We've spent years in the workplace, and years in our homes. We've created the next generation! We have learned, taught, and given from what we've received. Along the way, we've changed and grown, and learned the importance of our connections with each other. We have wisdom we didn't have 40 years ago!

For the past 20 years, I've worked with cancer patients. The thing I love about my job is that I've been blessed with perspective. My troubles, and I've had my share, are always balanced with the fact that I am still here, still a participant in life. A couple of years ago, I made the decision to really see what is good in this world, and focus on it. And the result has been that I see and record beauty every day; more than I can share. The little pictures I post on Facebook and elsewhere, are mostly to serve as reminders to me of just how blessed I am to be here.

So who is the class of 1972? We are the product of our generation. We are the product of our times. We didn't inherit a perfect world, and we won't leave a perfect world behind. But we hope to leave it a little better just for our having been here. The fact that we are still here is testament that there is more to be done.

I'd like to leave you with a couple quotes from Mother Teresa, who is a personal hero of mine:

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today..." "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."

Thank you very much.

Pink Sunflower