“The atmosphere was lively yet somber.”

1972 East Anchorage High graduate Pamela Painter Jones mentioned a couple of years back, that those of us having interesting or funny stories from our tenure at the prestigious school should share them. Her intention I suppose was get them out there while folks can still remember. She was hoping someone would compile all the tales into a notebook for the 50th East High Reunion – Class of 1972.

For the past 2 years I’ve thought about such. Basically I came up empty-minded where exciting incidents are concerned. There was no last-second touchdown catch to win a football game or anything close. Fact is I didn’t play football, basketball, or hockey. Not that I didn’t have the ability. Unfortunately or fortunately I had to work after school.

There is one moment of sporting adeptness worthy of mention. It deals with my running cross country. During P.E. class we ran a root-laden trail through the woods directly behind East. The designated trail exited in plain sight of the building. I was no runner so having to traverse that course brought unwanted pain; hungry mosquitoes being the worst of it.

One day classmate and best friend Jeff Thimsen asked me to follow him. Another student had informed my pal of a shortcut. That morning we were the only ones taking the secret path. Upon exiting, Jeff quickly noticed we were in the lead, with me sucking air like a fish out of water, thus I didn’t notice. East High star-runner Lonnie Wick was directly behind us instead of leading the pack like he always did. Jeff, Willie, and I had terribly miscalculated our exit time.

Coach White seeing such angrily motioned us over for a chat. We ended up having to rerun the whole loop while the others showered. That miscalculation didn’t keep us from cheating. From that point on we learned to time things precisely and pop out in the middle of the pack.

Later that year I had a flat tire in the school parking lot when it was minus 20 outside. Through a desire to finish the job and quickly seek heat I was able to change things in less than 5 minutes. That was done with no gloves or hat on.

I truly believe that’s a school record although the feat was never recorded. Turns out I was more mechanically inclined than athletic. If I were to compare this mechanical endeavor to a sporting record, I’d say it’s akin to kicking a 90-yard field goal or pole vaulting 29 feet.

There’s another event coming to mind that tops my tire swap extravaganza where bizarro nothingness is concerned. Before starting I need to ask this simple question: Who attended the Eklutna Lake Campground Party on Thursday night May 25, 1972?

I was there with Jeff Thimsen in my purple ’54 Chevy. It was drizzling rain and cold that evening. Newspaper archives show 39 degrees Fahrenheit. A group of maybe 5 graduates was parked close to us in a VW van. I remember most of their names yet shall keep them nameless.

A popular and attractive blonde walked over to our car asking if we had any papers. Being quite naïve, neither Jeff nor I had a clue what she meant. Thinking the gal might be contemplating starting a campfire, I told her I had some newspapers under my car seat. With puzzled look and Cheshire cat smile she replied,

“That’s okay!”

The pretty partygoer quickly scampered away to her bus empty handed.

Jeff and I hung around for maybe an hour trying to figure out why the party hadn’t begun. We were expecting a barbecue. Feeling hungry and finding no hot dogs, hamburgers, or Cokes, the two of us hightailed it to Leroy’s Pancake House. There we joined other stray cats from East.

I vaguely remember it being an all guy endeavor. The atmosphere was lively yet somber. Clinking spoons and forks hitting cheap porcelain plates could be heard throughout the room. Trying to liven up my own dampened spirits I splurged and ordered ‘Pigs in a Blanket’. The breakfast fare was a favorite at Leroy’s. Still is!

Somewhere around 2 a.m. after consuming ample dessert at Flapjack Jim’s just down the street from Leroy’s, our basically mundane graduation party ended without incident under inclement weather. We were bloated from excess eating and also very tired from doing nothing.

By the end of summer I’d wised up considerably where street smarts are concerned. I figured out by then what papers my former classmate was referring to. She must have been talking about TP. Evidently the girl was too embarrassed to spell things out.

I’m sure those crumpled-newspapers under my driver’s seat would’ve worked just fine. Why she didn’t accept them will always remain a mystery?

Author: michaeldexterhankins

ordinary average guy

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