M374u$3l4h

The twentieth anniversary of my high school class is this year, making me officially the oldest person on the intarweb. Somehow or another I’ve gotten stuck with writing the letter we’ll send to everyone to invite them to the reunion. And printing out and mailing the letters. And designing a t-shirt. And scanning in photos and putting together a rolling powerpoint show. *sighs*

I hadn’t realized until I attended an official meeting of the planning committee just how wrapped around the axle folks can get about small, small stuff. F’r instance, what in the world can we do with our classmate who graduated but didn’t walk with us? Do we invite him or not? And what about the folks who went twelve years through (longer than I was there) but didn’t graduate? And folks who skipped a year and graduated early? Must we invite them to our class reunion even though they were invited to last year’s and some attended and why should they get to have two twentieth reunions when other folks will have just one omg omg omg …

Stunning. Still, we worked through all that, deciding to invite anyone who ever attended a day’s class with us.

Then there’s venue. I grew up in a small town in north Mississippi. Graduated in 1986, what I like to think of as relatively modern times. I mean, you could buy a Mac, y’know? Anyway, we didn’t have an official prom, we had a junior-senior banquet. It was held in the cafeteria at the high school. The juniors provided the entertainment, we ate a sophisticated meal prepared on site (chicken, rice, and green beans as I rememeber it), and then the white folks went to one afterparty and the black folks went to another afterparty. White folks went to the rinky-dink country club–the only non-church-owned building within twenty miles large enough that allowed co-ed dancing. Several of my white classmates had invited several of our black classmates to the country club party. And they showed. And were met at the door by a determined mother and maybe some dads behind her. “Private party,” the mother insisted. “Sorry, but you can’t come in.” And our black classmates–who had been invited to come by, mind you–were sent packing. A number of my white classmates left as well.

The twentieth reunion is being held at the country club.

I’d been told this might be an issue and thought, hell, it should be. As far as I know the country club remains a segregated venture. Why would we want to go back there? Can’t we make however small a point about our disapproval of their means of organization by choosing to hold this event elsewhere? Oh, but several members of our graduating class are members out there now and it’s going to be by far the least expensive place to have it, sez they. Fine, I decide, I’ll see what our black classmates on the committee have to say about it. And no one said anything. I suppose I’ll let this go, as it’s not my place to co-opt the issue. But I’m thinking an acknowledgement of the shameful behavior at the country club twenty years ago might be in order, and an acknowledgement of how pleased we are to finally be together there. Do you think it’ll have any less gravitas if I’m wearing my red parachute pants and rising sun sleeveless-t when I make it?

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5 Responses to M374u$3l4h

  1. Charlie says:

    Are you sure that you’re from the same MS I’m from? Granted the segregation is the same but I’ve never known anyone to keep quite about it or maybe I just went to a more liberal school. Definitely agree with making a point regarding the venue though.

  2. Ray says:

    It’s still segregated? So if some of your classmates turned up tomorrow, they wouldn’t be let in, but an exception will be made for the reunion? WTF?
    Seriously, if it was me, I’d say that country club needs to make a grovelling apology before they get any more of your business.

  3. Chris says:

    Ray, I don’t know. My guess is black folks would be allowed to go to the bar (very small, literally a five-space bar and no tables), or buy golf balls from the equally small pro shop, or purchase a meal there (if they still do sunday dinners), but they would not be allowed to join as members and use the swimming pool and golf course. It’s something I’m curious about and expect to find more answers to. If Dave’s amenable I’ll post with what I find.

  4. Kurt says:

    I think that some folks should take an opportunity to apologize and talk about how things have changed (assuming that they had). If they haven’t . . . I’d be hard pressed to go there. 1986 != 1966. One way or the other, some type of acknowledgement about past transgessions is in order.

  5. Charlie says:

    It’s MS. Ya’ll should know that there are plenty of places there that are segregated and that no acknowledgement or apologies are going to be made regarding the segregation. The people that want to have it there won’t understand the issues either. In the smaller towns of MS 1986 = 1966 in some minds.