Every time I hear "The Class of '57" by the Statler Brothers it makes me think.
And these days, I'm thinking about those lyrics even more.
Like most country classics, "The Class of '57" is sad. Unfulfilled dreams and stories of broken hearts fill the verses.
I remember listening to that song 30 or 40 years ago and wondering how the class of '72 -- my graduation class -- would turn out. Now, all of those years later, there are eerie similarities.
First, a snippet from the Statler Brothers: "And the class of ‘57 had it's dreams/But living life day to day is never like it seems/Things get complicated when you get past 18."
In the spring and summer of 1972, I had no idea how complicated things would become. I thought every day would be sunshine and milkshakes and those friends from high school would be around forever. (For the record, I have changed the names of the following.)
Tom was my best buddy coming out of high school, but he never found his niche in the real world. A failed marriage about broke him, but he eventually recovered and wound up with a satisfying career in the Air Force. Sadly, shortly after retirement from the service he died of cancer. I still think about Tom quite often, and how much we enjoyed watching and talking about our beloved Cleveland Indians. It's still difficult to fathom he has been gone for close to 10 years.
Mike was another good friend, dating to grade school. Following commencement, we gradually lost touch, as happens with so many. A few months ago, I stumbled across his obituary in one of the papers I used to work at back in Ohio. Mike had died of complications from Alzheimer's. He had been one of my first friends in a new town after my family had moved when I was in fifth grade. The picture of Mike accompanying his obituary looked just like I remembered him.
I still consider Deb one of my all-time best friends. We met in Language Arts class in seventh grade and became immediate friends. We would talk forever about music, movies, television ... you name it and we could have a conversation. Deb ran into some serious health issues through the years, and about 10 years ago her family's house burned down. But she's doing very well these days, as are her kids and a host of grandchildren. We still talk occasionally on Facebook, and after each conversation I smile and think back to that Language Arts class.
My friendship with Joe stretches back to the early days of elementary school. Joe was a great high school athlete who answered a higher calling following graduation, eventually becoming a pastor. We still chat on occasion, and I enjoy looking at things he has written and some of his various internet posts. Joe has survived a series of heart attacks and related ailments, but always has a smile on his face.
Yes, life does get complicated after you get past 18. I realize that a little more every time I hear a certain song.