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Under the Chinaberry Tree

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Monday, April 8
Fran Houser Adrian Midway Cafe
Tuesday, April 9
Peter Avila San Benito Conjunto Museum
Wednesday, April 10
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Thursday, April 11
Dorinda Millan Pecos Museum
Friday, April 12
Troy Grusendorf Brownwood Harmonica
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by Tumbleweed Smith

My high school years were fun. I was involved with band, journalism and Future Teachers of America. 250 people graduated with me from Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth. I was ready to get out of town and start my own life. I had a blast in Waco for 4 years while attending Baylor University. I seldom went back home because I was having so much fun. I had a bunch of new friends and all but ignored my high school buddies (except for the few who enrolled in Baylor). After Baylor I went to the Army and served three years, two of them in Europe. Then I came home and really started a life I could call my own.

During my freshman year at Baylor, I went back to Heights for homecoming to see who in my class had gone to college and where they were. It was fun to go back and play Joe College. Those of us who went back that first year after graduation did so I guess to show some of those teachers that we were smart enough to get into an upper level institution. Not everybody went to college back in the 50’s.

My class started having reunions every five years, I guess. I’d get a notice about one and set it aside, thinking one of these days I’d go to one. I never did until the 25th reunion. Wow. What fun! The name badges had pictures of those attending from the senior annual. We spent a weekend at a classmates’ lake home getting up to date on everybody. There was no big event planned, so there was plenty of visiting time.

After our 35th reunion, the class started meeting twice a year. Sometimes it’s just a dinner at some Metroplex restaurant. Other times the class takes cruises or spends weekends in places like Austin or New Orleans. A few years ago I started going to an occasional reunion event. I realized I needed to go to more when I had to ask a good friend from my high school days who he was. That was embarrassing.

I went to so many reunions in different cities that I decided my classmates needed to see my part of the state. The two classmates who do most of the planning for these events hinted a few years ago that I ought to host one. Our last get-together was in July of this year. At that time, I passed out information on Big Spring and announced the next Swarm would be held in my town. We call it a swarm because our high school sports teams were called Yellow Jackets, named for our mascot.

So this past weekend 25 of my classmates came to Big Spring. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a weekend more. It was so completely comfortable. Nobody was trying to impress anybody or prove anything. It was just a bunch of good friends getting together. Most of the ones who come to the reunions are still working at something. They’re pilots, engineers, museum directors, developers, farmers, travel agents, oilmen and writers. Most of them had never been to Big Spring and were impressed with our water, trees and hills. We had perfect weather. While here, plans were being made for the next Swarm. It’ll be in Richardson in the spring. I’ll be there.

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