Some things have changed, but grad time is an important one

Graduation is a rite of passage that all young people should enjoy just before they open the door into an entirely new classroom.

I recently overheard some young people discussing their upcoming grad. They were talking about renting limos, purchasing dresses and suits, parties and ceremonies. It didn’t take long for my mind to wander back to June 1967.

I recall that in late April of that year, our grad committee announced that the theme for our grad was to be ‘Born Free,’ based on the Matt Munroe Academy Award-winning song of the same name. While that song was recorded by greats such as Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and Roger Williams, I enjoyed Tommy Smothers belting out, “Born free, my father’s a doctor.”

I never did know the reason why that theme was chosen because over the next few weeks, very little was free. Our committee also decided we would hire a dance band for the dance at the school and we would all learn ballroom dancing so we could swirl around the room like Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in the King and I.

So we had to go to ballroom dancing classes in the gym over the next few weeks. A teacher volunteered and we stomped on each other’s toes while a scratchy record player ground out two or three waltzes that we mastered, sort of.

As the day approached, I finally got up the courage to phone up a young lady and ask her to the dance with me. After she surprised me by saying yes, my sister complicated the situation by asking if I had ordered her a corsage. Apparently, they were a necessity and you couldn’t just go in the day of grad and ask for one.

I had to phone Mrs. Timms, the florist in Milner. When I asked to order a corsage she asked what colour of dress my date would be wearing. It had taken me two weeks to make the first call and I wasn’t going to make a second so I just replied I didn’t know. She suggested something in white with a bit of blue and pink, and I said that was fine.

Next, downtown to see Laurie King at Arnold and Quigley Men’s wear for a suit. There was a long rack of black suits, nothing fancy, measure the legs and the coat and hand over the cash.

Then there was the limo. More stressful than phoning my date was asking Dad for the car for the night. Yes, I could use it, but he needed it for work so I was to have it home before 5 a.m.

The big night finally arrived. I got to sit at the head table because I was asked to say grace which I was sure I was going to botch up, but didn’t. The dance band broke into song and we headed to the floor soon realizing we could really only dance to the two songs we had practised so we mostly listened politely.

It wasn’t long until we headed up to the Rod and Gun Club for the real dance and we partied well into the morning.  My date had to go home early, Dad needed the car, so I got a ride back to Gail’s for the grad breakfast and the memories went into the bank. I can still hear the music and smell her perfume.

Graduation is a rite of passage that all young people should enjoy just before they open the door into an entirely new classroom. At least that’s what McGregor says.