Last Saturday, I enjoyed my lunch at Zavala's, waiting for my cue to head into the back room to take a photo. Normally, I do not take class reunion photos, relying instead on others in attendance to take care of that task. This one was a bit different, as it was the class of 1946, and my dad, Jerry Gamel, is one of its members.
When Wibby Shearer finally stepped into the front room and motioned that they were ready for me, I quickly headed back and began working to find a spot where everyone would be visible, and look their very best. And, where they would not have too move around too much!
After I had taken the photo and downloaded it to my computer, I began to realize why I never got away with much growing up in Mason. A quick look at the photo, below, reveals that many of the classmates were all around Mason while I was growing up.
There's Helen Willis, whose daughter, Sandra, was in the grade ahead of me.
And of course, Patsy Ziriax, whose son, Pat, was also one grade ahead. She also lived next door to Kenneth and Carolyn Loeffler, and since I ran with Michael, she knew my whereabouts most of the time.
Wibby and Faye Shearer's kids were closer to Connie's age; but, they were in town and knew what I was up to most of the time.
Buddy Kruse's sister, Lola Hohn, had kids in the grades ahead and behind me.
Bobbie Baze's kids were friends.
Emma Gene Jackson knew where I was at most of the time.
Betty Kelso saw me every time I went to the bank to see Connie.
Blan Zesch's son-in-law, Jerry Parker, was both a teacher and a coach to me.
Marian Leifeste's daughter, Lori, was a year younger, but a good friend.
Lots of eyes and ears, and all of them knew where my friends and I were most of the time. If they didn't know, they knew someone who did know.
I guess that, at times, it might have seemed almost stifling. So many people who all knew what was going on, and who could report back to Mama and Daddy before I could get home to explain.
Of course, when I fell at the river and cut my arm, those same people were able to let my parents know that I was okay, and that they would make sure I took care of the stitches while I spent the night in town.
It's the same people that, while we drove around the square in repeated circles, gave us a smile to let us know they appreciated us not getting into mischief. I didn't realize they were actually WATCHING us, but now that I do know, I feel a bit more secure.
Hillary Clinton once said that, "It takes a village to raise a child," and I believe it is true. Most modern, urban children don't have a village, they have cities and towns. Mason had, and still has, a support group of adults who watch out for children and help to raise them.
They are the adults who go to games and plays, even when they have no children or grandchildren participating. They are the adults that mentor at school, sometimes to the children and grandchildren of their own classmates. They are the adults that read the honor roll in the paper, and then congratulate those kids when they see them on the street.
Here's a toast to the Class of '46! Thanks for helping make sure I could be there to take your picture on Saturday.
It’s all just my opinion.