Yesteryears and Yearbook Memories by Mae Clair

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I love folklore and legend. You also know I’ve got a book coming out the end of April that features the Mothman, a famous creature from cryptozoology. That book, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS, is the first of a three novel series (although each book has a definitive ending).

Recently, while working on book two, A COLD TOMORROW, I had to draft a few messages from a high school yearbook for one of my characters to review. I thought I could do that fairly quickly if I looked at some of the notes classmates had written in my own yearbooks.

Turns out all those “yesteryears” were a surprise. One of the first things I noticed is that no one signs their last name in a yearbook. And seriously, why would they? When you’re in high school you expect those friendships to last forever. Sadly, many people who signed “AFA” (a friend always) I’ve forgotten. I’m ashamed to say that there are many people I can’t place at all. It makes me wonder if when others scan their yearbooks and read messages from me all these years decades later, if they wonder “who was she?”

That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of friends I remembered. So many of those scribbled notes now seem innocent and sweet. Friends wishing me the best for the future, telling me how successful I’d be as a writer (bless them), complimenting my gypsy-like clothing, or ribbing me about the fact I was “out there.” (Did I mention I was known as “Starchild” in high school?)

What really resonated was a long message from a close friend who passed away from cancer in her mid-thirties. Reading her note was hard. We were so young with bright ideas for the future, and she’s been gone for decades. The saddest part is I didn’t even know when she passed. We’d lost touch and I found out about her death several years after the fact.

All those yesteryears spelled out in pages…memories that seem like they happened only yesterday, but still resonate with echoes of a long-ago past. My high school years were spent in a time when disco ruled (I was a fan of classic rock), backward masking was a hot topic (anyone remember that?) and a fun night out amounted to a movie followed by a burger at the Red Barn. Senior skip day was spent at Hershey Park and girls wore wrist corsages when our guys took us to the prom.

When was the last time you looked at your high school yearbooks? What do you remember most about that time?

 

34 thoughts on “Yesteryears and Yearbook Memories by Mae Clair

  1. A very evocative post, Mae. Year books weren’t part of the process here in the UK but I did stop and recollect some of the faces of the girls in my form at school. Thanks for giving me a reminder to think back.

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    • Those memories are certainly fun, Daisy, a little on the sad side, too when you think of how much time has passed. Looking at my yearbooks brought smiles to my face.

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  2. Starchild…that’s kinda cool really. I was an oddball, dressing like Stevie Nicks while all my classmates were into jeans. Girls didn’t like me. I was living in an orphanage during my high school years. Harpst Home girls weren’t invited to parties, because our reputation preceded us. My Harpst Home roommate and I hung out in the smoking area (yes, our high school had a smoking area) with senior guys who had a rock band. I lived on the fringe and became a groupie, writing rebellious poetry they put to music. Damn, if only one of us had become famous, I could say, “I knew him when.” I do remember backmasking. Satan was supposed to have lyrics in all of the rock music. I married at fifteen and was divorced 17 months later. So life took a weird turn. I have wondered about my old roommate, her name was Darlene Roper and she married a guy named Brian White. Beyond that, I have no clue what became of her.

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    • Your school actually had a smoking area? Wow, we had places we’d go to smoke but it definitely wasn’t permitted. If you got caught you were suspended for a few days or did detention. I’m sorry you weren’t invited to parties but it sounds like you made your own fun, regardless. And I would have loved your Stevie Nicks clothes…that was my style, too.:)

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  3. You have the same serious, deep look in both pictures.

    Thank you for opening the remembrance path in front of me, Mae!

    We used to have something similar in gymnasium. and the same way of signing, just one name and a lot of drawings – flowers, hearts, song lyrics, etc. Unfortunately I lost it years later.
    From time to time I remember some of my former colleagues from gymnasium, high school and even University. with melancholy and I wonder what happened to them. Along the years I ran into some, a few, but most are lost . I mean I have no idea where they are or if they still are.

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    • Carmen, I remember all the symbols. We did that too, hearts and flowers and little snippets of poetry or lyrics. Those were fun days, weren’t they? Every once in a great while I’ll run into someone from high school. When I run into someone I haven’t seen in a really long time, they still recognize me, but I think it’s the hair, LOL.

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    • It was cool looking through them, a little sad, too. The hardest part was reading the note from the friend who died of cancer. She and I were best buds back in the day. So weird to think that I’m still here and she passed away over two decades ago.

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  4. Oh, Mae, what a wonderful post. I haven’t seen anyone from my high school in so long because I no longer live in Pennsylvania, but I do keep in touch on Facebook. It’s not really the same, though. And I also lost a friend to an illness. (Her family never did disclose what it was. She died in Florida in her twenties. What a waste of a vibrant life.)

    I can’t wait to read the novels you’ve been working on. The combination of the yearbook posts and the cryptozoological legends promises a fantastic read. Best wishes!

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    • Facebook has to be a great place to connect with past friends, Staci. I’m such a bad FB user, but maybe one of these days I’ll cross that line.

      It’s so sad to hear about your friend who passed in her twenties. When we’re in high school we think we’ve got the whole world ahead of us but for some it doesn’t play out that way.

      And so glad to hear you’re looking forward to the books. The snippets of yearbook posts are just a small part of book 2, but writing them made me take a few moments to appreciate the past 🙂

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  5. Great post, Mae! Man, I haven’t pulled out my yearbooks in, well, decades (eek!). I did go to a few class reunions. I find it so interesting how some people are unrecognizable now, but others don’t look like they’ve aged at all since high school. And others still behave like they’re in high school *shakes head*. The scary thing: my son is a HS senior this year, and we just ordered a yearbook for him. OMG. I can’t believe I’m that ol–er, I’ve been out of HS that long. Now you’ve got me thinking about pulling my old yearbooks out. Dare I? Not sure, but it might be good for a laugh 😀

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    • Do it, Julie. It will be fun. Especially when your son brings his home and you can compare the two. I bet that would be a blast 🙂

      I never made it to any of my reunions. When my hubby and I took our last trip to Point Pleasant (to research my Mothman book) there was actually a high school reunion going on in the bar where we grabbed dinner. It was a small group of about 25-30 people. We guessed they were about 10 years older than we were, but it looked like they were having a blast!

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  6. Wonderful remembrance post, Mae. Not too much has changed between your high school photo and your present photo. The same lovely spirit continues to shine through.

    My yearbook is packed away somewhere, but a brilliant girl in my graduating class brought us all together in a closed Facebook group. We’re able to keep up with each other sharing and supporting our tribulations, celebrations and everyday lives. Although I haven’t taken the time to participate, the class members that remained in our city meet for dinner once a month.

    I need to locate the box my yearbook is packed in and read all the notes posted there.

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    • What a wonderful group to be part of, Alicia. And getting together for dinner once a month also sounds like a lovely idea. I think it’s awesome that you’re staying in touch that way. Digging out your yearbook and going through it, especially now, with your group of friends would be so much fun. A girls’ night (even if it’s online) of giggles 🙂

      And thank you for the lovely comment. If there is a spirit in me that touches others, it definitely comes from my parents and my kind-hearted mother 🙂

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    • Thanks, Stanalei. Yearbooks are so nostalgic. I hadn’t looked at mine in a long time (even though I knew exactly where they were stored). Every now and then, a trip down memory lane can be a lot of fun!

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  7. If it weren’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t speak to anyone from high school. Somehow everyone found me, which is nice, but I’m always momentarily startled when they say “Remember when…” and I don’t recall their last name. We had a wild high school. The first year we had a smoking section in our cafeteria and a section outside. Most of us wore leather. All right, all of us wore leather. And we played the part, too, rock ‘n roll and all that goes along with it. Some of my best days were from high school, but I haven’t looked at the ol’ yearbook in years. Perhaps it’s time.

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    • Wow, I’m surprised by the amount of high schools that actually had legitimate smoking sections. That was taboo in my day, although I did lead a “sit in” strike once in trying to get support for it. No go, but at least my group wasn’t expelled.

      Sounds like you had fun, Sue. I wasn’t a “leather” girl but I loved my flowing gypsy clothing. The truth is, I still do. Isn’t it amazing how much of those years still plays a part in our current lives.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. I would have loved to have a glimpse of your school. Maybe it’s time you dig out your yearbooks, too 🙂

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  8. Great post, Mae. I had the same hair style as you! I do believe we are the same age. I graduated in 1980. We had a smoking area too. I had a group of friends and we didn’t really belong to any one group; not the burnouts, the jocks or the brianiacks, but I must say I didn’t discriminate when dating. I did not like the cheerleaders, most of them were pretty mean. We did toilet paper their houses on a regular basis. I played some soccer, softball, field hockey, a tennis, so I knew a lot of different people. I still stay in close contact with three of my close friends. My very best friend and almost a sister, I’ve lost contact with. Mental illness ran rampant in her family, and I a little embarrassed to say, I let my husband get in the way of our friendship. She was difficult and got more so as she aged. I don’t know where she is now, or if she’s even alive. Our sons were friends when we lived together after our divorces. I miss her terribly sometimes. I called her last known number and left a message but no response.

    Oh, you got me going! Great thought provoking post. Thanks.

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    • Wow, another school with a smoking area. I’m starting to think mine was the odd one out, LOL. Interesting thing about my school….we didn’t have cheerleaders or sports teams. I went to a vo-tech school were students from multiple counties took part. As a result, we weren’t allowed teams or cheerleaders but did have debate teams and “shop” activities. I did student council and yearbook committee for two years, mostly so I could write 🙂

      So sorry about your friend, Mary. I hope she pulled her life together.

      It’s awesome to hear from you! I think about you often and wonder how you’re doing. Going to have to drop you an email to catch-up. I miss our chats! 🙂

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    • I loved books, too, Judith. I didn’t go t the usual school with jocks, preps, geeks, etc, so I blended well with the mix of academic and “out there” types. Met my husband in high school, too, so there are many fond memories of those days! 🙂

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  9. Dear Starchild (love it), I was Ahme of the ancient Egyptians. I’m heavily involved in the planning of a class reunion coming up in mid-March. Consequently, perusing yearbooks and calling old friends and acquaintances has been a steady occupation of late. We are sad over the ones we have lost and look forward to seeing each other face to face, at least the ones of us who can attend this one. Enjoyed your post!

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    • Ahme, how very cool that you are heavily involved in your reunions. I never made it to a single one of mine and sometimes I regret that. It’s wonderful that you are still so involved with all those friends from school. I know it must be sad to remember those you have lost, but how wonderful that so many of you still have ongoing connections. I hope the next reunion is a rousing success. From Starchild to Ahme…wishing you the best! 🙂

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  10. Wow, what a great post. I haven’t thought about high school for eons. It feels more like a distant land I traveled to once, and thought, “Interesting, but no need to come back here again!” LOL I have a friend, though, who has a core group of women she calls “the high school friends” and they’ve been getting together every year or so for 50 years. I think that is the coolest.

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    • I think it’s really cool when friendships are maintained over a long period of time like that. I still have one close friend from high school (he married my cousin) but other than that, I’ve lost touch with all of them. Kudos to your friend for keeping her circle going. And hey, great to see you here. I just found out Julian’s story is going to be coming out “soonish,” Can’t wait for that one! 😀

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    • I was fortunate that we didn’t move much when I was a kid. I only had to readjust to a few schools. We do leaves pieces behind, some more prominent than others. Maybe one day you’ll be able to find your yearbooks, Sherry.

      And oh…the Mothman! Release date is April 26th. I probably have a copy of whatever documentary you watched. I’ve amassed quite a collection in the last few years, LOL.

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