As many high school and college seniors are getting ready for the big Graduation Day, I can’t help but reminisce about the “Happy Days” like times long ago that are embedded in the gray matter. Sam, a buddy from my high school days, was able to track me down recently per Facebook, so this has certainly highlighted a trigger of such memories.
And being a 1977 De La Salle (DLS) High School graduate, we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary this year - already, some folks are working on this to see how many of us geezers are still around!
I was one of the first DLS 1977 grads to get our Yearbook late in the Fall of 1977 when many of us were Freshmen at LSU. I loaned out my Yearbook, but unfortunately, I never got it back.
Here is a pic from the DLS 1976 Yearbook when I was a Junior - 3rd Row, Third on Right; that's my buddy Randy Blitz in the pic next to me with a date - probably at a Homecoming Dance!
All during my high school years, I worked at a local Piggly Wiggly, now closed, that was located at the corner of St. Charles Ave. and Cherokee St. It was fun riding my Honda XL 125S to and from school and to work. While DLS was certainly a good college prep high school that helped me later for college and graduate school, I learned so much also from working at the grocery store per stocking, checking out folks, helping the butcher, delivering groceries per a bike and many other functions that truly teach you communication skills and customer service!
A very serious “maturity awakening” event occurred in our senior year that was painful for so many of us and really shocked us, who at that age thought we were immortal. It happened that a fellow senior died during our senior year from an accident, and it really taught us a lesson about how precious life is.
On a much lighter side, Homecoming Week for seniors and freshmen was greatly anticipated for. Being a freshman, we all began to hear stories from sophomores, juniors and especially seniors about what lay ahead for us. This taunting was innocent, and the school administration laid down the rules about what boundaries had to be upheld - whether for freshmen or seniors.
Freshmen were obliged to do simple tasks like carrying books for a senior for half an hour before and after school. And silly things like dancing with another freshman student while singing the school's fight song were pretty common.
Another Homecoming attribute for freshmen that was embarrassing involved having to dress in an odd manner during Homecoming week - beanie hat, a long sleeved shirt, short pants, and a tie! I would get many riders on the Street Car laughing as I would get on and off to school.
So after the first four rough but fun days of Homecoming Week, we looked forward to Friday, the day of the Homecoming Football Game. But what we really looked forward to was Kangaroo Court and "The Line." Any freshmen who were caught not doing any reasonable requests from seniors that week had to go in front of the whole school in the gym that Friday morning for a Kangaroo Court!
Basically, the court was made up leadership form the senior class who would quickly, in front of the whole school, make a proclamation like, "Billy Bob has been found guilty of treason and is sentenced to ...." One freshman was shown live worms in a container and then, after being blindfolded has to eat candy worms in a switched but similar jar. Another friend was tied to a chair and had honey poured on him and then had marshmallows thrown at him by the court members!
All of the pranks were done in jest and never was the victim in any way forced to do something against his will or done anything to in an inappropriate manner. Also, the school's administration was monitoring all of these events.
My real favorite memory from that week was "The Line." After Kangaroo Court, all freshmen were gathered in the Gym locker's area and told to put on the junk clothes that we had brought for the event. Essentially, Leontine Street was closed off to traffic and a straight path was made in the street with rope holders.
Every senior had a large plastic garbage can filled with flour and water in it - 1/2 of the flour that seniors brought to school was donated to a charity. About 10 feet separated from where the seniors were roped off from the freshmen line.
So the freshmen started walking down the roped path slowly and were inundated with hand threw chunks of flour paste. What could we do? Simple pick up some flour paste and hurl it back at the seniors which is what we all did. Teachers helped keep the line moving and seniors from getting out of hand, but that didn't mean that they weren't fair targets!
After we all made it through the line and had a blast, other teachers were positioned on ladders near the Gym to hose us all off! Unfortunately, I forgot to put some Brylcreem or Vaseline on my hair before going in the line, so I had a very hard time combing out the dried flour!
While all of us freshmen had initially hated the thought of Hazing week, it actually turned out to be a great vehicle for uniting everyone in the school. Sure, some seniors and freshmen did get out of hand, but they were the minority and had many detentions to show for it.
The vast majority of us freshmen really were psyched up as we went to the Homecoming Game that Friday night. We could all come together for a cause and had gotten to know each other so quickly - with all the class levels.
My only regret is that when we became seniors (pic above), we still could do the weekday interrogation stuff to freshmen, but "The Line" was taken away by the school administrators. The freshmen really missed our on some special fun!