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By Staff | Jun 17, 2016

I recently hung out with a group of people who have lived in seven different decades. They have watched one century pass into the next and are currently experiencing their second millennium.

Who are these oldsters? None other than my fellow compatriots from the Sioux Valley High School class of 1975.

It’s been more than 40 years since we donned those goofy robes and silly hats and strode across the stage to receive our diplomas. I can’t speak for the others, but I was profoundly relieved when I saw that mine was signed.

Our recent class reunion took place during a sweltering summer evening on one of my classmate’s lawn. Standing on that picture-perfect expanse of grass – which, shockingly, lacked air conditioning – it felt as if we were marinating in liquid heat.

Reminiscences flowed like the sweat trickling down a middle-aged back.

Thankfully, someone had thought to print nametags. People tend to change with the passage of time.

Add in a foggy memory and multiply that by the factor of four decades passing since some of us had seen each other and the sum is … well, math was never my strongest subject, but you get the idea.

Among my classmates at the reunion, there were only two with whom I had spent the whole 12 years of grade school and high school.

Former neighbor kids Wes Oinks and Dave Nelson and I constituted the entirety of the first grade in 1963 at Oslo District No. 95, a one-room country school. The implacable march of progress shuttered District No. 95 the next year and we were sent off to Sioux Valley Schools where we acquired three score additional classmates. It was like thinking you’re an only child only to learn that you actually have dozens of siblings.

There soon came the inevitable request for a group photo. We automatically lined ourselves up according to height just as we had done innumerable times during our school years. One of my female classmates called out, “Anyone who hasn’t gained at least 20 pounds since graduation has to stand in front.”

“Then nobody will be in the front,” replied another of the ladies.

Several of my female classmates noted that we will soon be having milestone birthdays and decreed that 60 is the new 40. I have never succeeded in arguing with female logic and felt that I had no choice but to agree with them.

Besides, some of us have acquired new parts such as titanium joints and digital hearing aids and nearly all of us have enhanced our eyesight with bifocals. The way I see it, the addition of this fresh hardware means that we are becoming younger.

We’ll soon be mostly bionic and our major concerns will regard the terms and conditions of manufacturers’ warranties.

It was Old Timers Day weekend in Volga, so it seemed fitting that we old timers should be part of the parade. Every kid imagines having a parade thrown for them and we are all still kids at heart.

So we piled onto a flatbed trailer and sat on bales of straw and waited in the parade staging area to be hauled around like bales of straw. You know you’re in a farming community when one of the lead units in the parade is a self-propelled silage chopper that’s approximately the size of a cruise ship.

The parade included everything from horse-drawn wagons to an assortment of antique tractors to a late-model convertible which carried a young lady purported to be Miss Corndog. I heard a buzzing up above and saw that someone was recording the day’s events with a quad-copter drone.

It was fun to be carted along the parade route and toss candy to the little kids. Many of them seemed to be impressed that such old folks were able to sit upright on a moving flatbed. We waved to the crowd, doing our best impressions of Vanna White.

As we passed the review stand, an announcer proclaimed our arrival. “Looking good!” boomed the PA system as we slowly rolled by.

Really? “Looking good” is what you say to someone who is so far over the hill, they’ve passed through the adjoining valley and are halfway up the next mountain.

How did “young and god-like” transmogrify into “looking good?”

The answer, of course, is time. Like it or not, time happens to everyone. It makes me wish I could go back to my youth and take back all those times I muttered impatiently, “I can’t wait until …”

In conclusion, the class of 1975 may have grown older, but we are still a “hip” group. It’s just that the hip in question might be artificial.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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