Don Bauder 8:30 a.m., Dec. 11
"Time...is always on my side!" --Iron Maiden, from the title track of SOMEWHERE IN TIME.
Last Thursday, I was shopping at Big Lots' Vista Store for staple items (mostly pasta, sauces, spices, breakfast items, tea, and tinned fish). It was rather late, and sunset was a coming heavy. Still, I didn't mind--Fall and Winter are my favorite seasons, for obvious reasons!
As I walked through the aisles, I noticed that a pocket watch was on sale for five bucks. I picked up the package, taking note of the bear embossed on it's cover. Seeing this watch brought back memories of another watch, from nearly three decades ago.
It was June 2nd, 1982--Graduation Eve at Lemoore High School. The Class of 1982 was resplendent in their Royal Purple robes and mortarboards (which we were allowed to keep), and I was wearing a three-piece kahki-colored suit underneath.
We entered to the usual Pomp and Circumstance at 6pm. The invocation was read, then speeches were delivered by Angie (Valadectorian) and Kaiser (Saultorian). We were the final year of The Great WWII Baby Boom's offspring.
Under the warm San Joaquin Valley evening sun, we basked in the glow of finally escaping the place we so lovingly called "Lemoore State Penitentary"--as well as in the love of our parents and friends. Even the teachers were smiling happily--happy to see the last of our backsides infesting their campus!
Soon, it came time to go get what we slaved four years for--our diplomas. At Lemoore High, they have a system regarding the awarding of that parchment prize. At the ceremony, we were issued "Diploma Holders"--purple silk-covered boards with leather binding and a dazzling gold interior.
This part of the ceremony went without a hitch--except for one of AP Economics students, who planted a wet kiss on top of the bald head of our toughest teacher--Don Inglis, aka "The Grade Hoser," because his courses were tough enough to ruin healthy GPAs twelve ways!
When I recieved my Diploma Case, I just shook Mr. Inglis' hand (and Principal Anderson's), then opened the case and pirouetted to show the crown what was in it--NOTHING!
After we did "The Tassel Turn" to mark our new status as graduates of Lemoore High School, we were pronounced "graduates." All of the caps went skyward...then were retrieved as we set out to the Girl's Gym to get those prizes we sweated saline-and-blood for four years--our Diplomas.
The reason that the diplomas were held at the Girl's Gym was simple. If a student owed fees, fines, or other bills to the school, you had to pay that off before you got your parchment. Lucky for me, I was debt-free, and Mr. Warkentine (The Hardest Swat On Campus) shook my hand and handed my diploma over.
Fact was, I was one of the few who never got to meet "the paddle" up close and personal. Of course, the fact that my Dad had explicitly told the school staff that any unauthorized paddling meant that the offending staff member would be perp-walked off the campus on battery charges was taken to heart as well.
My Dad was a tough old Command Master Chief Hosptial Corpsman. When it came to me (the only son he ever had),however, he was very protective, and hurting me meant that hell was going to be unleashed very soon!
That night, I had recieved several presents from my family and friends. One of them was a gold Timex pocketwatch, a gift from my grandfather. It was an old-styled one, with a spring that had to be rewound every twelve hours.
The watch served me well, but on a cold February morning in Oceanside, it turned up missing...complements of my roommate, who had taken it to buy a supply of weed (along with my portable cassette player). Needless to say, he was booted by the house staff the next day.
Now jump back to Last Thursday... I gazed at the watch, and realized I needed a new one. (Wristwatches and I do not get along that well, since wrist movement will punch function buttons that I do not need punched). It was like looking at my past in a way...and I popped it into my cart and made it part of my purchase order.
This one is a self-winding watch with a steel chain, which clips to my belt. It runs like a champ, and the bear on the front of it is, to me, a reminder of the Gaelic saying "True strength lies in gentleness."
Ah, the things that go on in a Big Lots store...from serendippity to the watch I wear proudly today!