Sign My Yearbook

Where I’ve just been speaking of high school with its slam books and its study halls, how can I not mention some entries in my own old yearbook, so recently pulled down from the shelf? 

A boy named Ray wrote, ”Best of luck to a really sweet and serious kid. Don’t tell anyone but I love you.”

(Bet he wrote that in all the girls’ yearbooks.)

Then there was this one from a boy named John:

 “To a really nice kid. Don’t forget Chorus and A Cappella and our other fun experiences.”

Like the way we secretly  held hands sometimes between our two sections, Tenor and Alto? He was a skinny kid with glasses but he did have a certain…. something. We made out once behind the two-ton velvet curtain on the stage in the auditorium. 

Girls wrote more heartfelt things:

“I wish you all the happiness in the world,” said one:  “Never forget Gym Class ha ha!” said another, and who could forget Gym in that era when there literally were no sports for girls, when some of us spent the whole hour pretending we had our periods so we could sit in the stands and do homework.   

But  was the inscription written by the teacher I had for senior English is what really made a difference in my life, though not at the time:

“Please keep writing! “I expect to be reading your articles one of these days!”  wrote Miss Shea whose picture I here append.

 This stunned inscription when I came upon it 15 years after graduation, because I had totally forgotten I ever dreamed of writing. When I was in college I wanted to be a college professor; in my twenties I wanted nothing more than to teach forever; and as I was turning 30 I had my eye on Divinity School.

By that time I had left the classroom and was tending two babies.

This one day the two babies were napping and having scoured both the high chair, the booster seat, and every available surface in the kitchen, I had gone to sit by the sunny widow in the upstairs study.

From that vantage point it was easy for my gaze to fall on the tall bookshelf across the room, on whose top shelf rested my old high school yearbook.

I fetched it down and read all these scrawled benedictions, as they now seem to me.

Ray liked me enough to lie and say he loved me, Linda and Elaine wished me the best and maybe John maybe knew as well I did that that was one delicious ten-second adventure we had behind those musty curtains.

And Miss Shea? Miss Shea had done what all good teachers do: She had seen something in me and named it.

So let’s send up a prayer for all the teachers who noticed us and our little talents, whether got the chance to write in our yearbooks or not.

the Dance Band

3 thoughts on “Sign My Yearbook

  1. Dave Moriarty inscribed my final exam with almost the same words of Ms. Shea! “..A poet already? Bruce, you need to keep writing. You have a gift.”
    I should contact him. He believed…and I did go on to write and even got paid to do so.

    Behind the velvet curtains huh?


  2. Miss Shea knew what is true when applied to many young persons…”Sometimes someone has to believe in you before you can believe in yourself.” Not saying that was you, Terry, but even with the potential that I’m sure you showed, your teacher didn’t want to take that chance.

  3. Great picture of the Year Book. Today’s column about messages that had double meanings and sincere notes obviously sparked deep feelings in some readers. My deep feeling is about the “Slam Book”, just another thing in high school I wasn’t invited to take part in.

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