Friday, May 23, 2014

Graduation Memories--Write About Them!


It's that time of year when graduations pop up like mushrooms on a dewy lawn. We attend these ceremonies for family members and friends and even go through them ourselves. This recognition of an accomplishment in our education should be a memorable occasion.

It's something you can write about for your Family Memories Book. Whether your own graduation or that of a sibling, child or grandchild, it's an occasion to highlight in your life journey. A few people have had the blessing of attending the graduation of one of their parents. One of my sisters-in-law waited until the last of her three children had finished college before beginning her own college education. She went straight through undergraduate work and the Master's Degree program. Needless to say, her family and her extended family were all quite proud of her. 

I graduated three times--from 8th grade, high school and college. All three events are vivid memories even though they happened a good many years ago. 

I attended a Kindergarten through 8th grade elementary school so our graduation was capping 9 years of being educated in Lincoln School, 9 years of moving from grade to grade, 9 years of relationships with others in that school. The school required that each girl make her own graduation dress in the Home Economics class. The girls spent each Monday morning working on the dresses, while the boys were in Industrial Arts. We selected our own pattern and fabric. After being in the class for nearly two years, we were suppose to be capable to make a dress. My dress was pale pink with a Peter Pan collar, capped sleeves and a wide circle skirt. Our teacher used a yardstick to measure the correct placement of the hem for each student. Miss Johnson placed the yardstick on the floor, then marked the spot on each girl to let her know where to put the hem. She didn't allow for the fact that we were all different heights, however. She marked every single one at the same mark on her treasured yardstick. With a skirt as wide as mine, and most of the others were the same, it took a long time to pin the hem and then sew it by hand making sure our stitches did not show on the right side of the fabric. I was the shortest girl in the class at the time and my dress fell to below my ankles. The tallest girl found herself with a dress above her knees, unheard of in 1953. We took our dresses home and our mothers insisted they be worked on again. Several inches had to be cut from my dress and the hem totally redone. By me! The tall girl, Gail, came to graduation with a huge ruffle that had been added to the bottom of her dress. By her mother! Even with the near disaster, our mothers must have been very proud to see us march down the aisle in a dress we'd made, wearing our first high heeled shoes. We all wore our dresses to the 8th Grade Graduation Dance the next night.

My high school graduation class differed in that we did not wear caps and gowns. Instead, the class of 750 marched down the aisle, passing under a rose arbor used for the occasion. Boys wore dark suits with a red rose boutionniere and the girls wore floor length white formals. Each girl was given a dozen long-stem red roses to carry. If a girl could not afford a dress, the school had a fund to help. There were rules as to the type of neckline the dress could have. Not too low, not strapless, not revealing. Teachers met the grads in the school hall as we lined up, handed out the roses and checked dresses. They kept a handful of lace and other fabrics to stuff into places they felt the public should not see. My dress had a high neck in front but dipped to a V in the back. I was terrified they'd add something to the back so I stood with my back to the lockers lining the wall whenever a teacher with an eagle eye walked by. A few of my friends had additions to their gowns, like it or not. 

College graduation gave me the only opportunity to wear a cap and gown. We graduated outdoors on a very hot June day, so hot that most of the girls opted to not wear a dress underneath. Off we went in our undies and full-length slips and our black gowns. At one point in the speeches, I rested my arm across my middle and jumped when the flesh touched the oh-so-hot zipper on the gown. Perspiration trickeld down faces, under arms and other unmentionable spots. 

I hope that these few memories will trigger graduation memories of your own, whether yours or someone else in your family. My son almost missed his high school graduation, but that's a story for another day. Take time to write something new for your Family Memories Book. 

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