— By LARRY M. JONES
Quite regularly, I receive in the mail various solicitations from the alumni association of my old college alma mater. Rarely do I actually open and read them. They normally go directly into “File 13.”
I made an exception this past year. A representative called me asking that I update my personal contact information for an alumni directory to be published later in the year. I complied with their request and provided them with more information than even the National Security Agency (NSA) knows about me. In addition, I received an invitation to purchase a copy of the directory, which ranged from a deluxe gold embossed leather bound “coffee table” edition on down to a CD containing names of classmates within five years, plus or minus, of my graduation date for a mere 30-something dollars. Being little more than the price of a cup of Starbucks “coffee,” I thought it would be nice to see what happened to a few of my old college friends.
For whatever the reason, I have kept up with few of my classmates from my later college years. I suppose this is partially because I went to a large “take a number” public college rather than a smaller, more personal church-supported or private Ivy League university. It seems that each of the last few presidents has had cabinet-level positions for every one of their old Ivy League college buddies. My wife’s sister-in-law, Linda, graduated from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, and they must have the world’s most active alumni association. From stories she tells of their annual reunions and email exchanges, several of them may possibly be joined at the hip.
I received my unadorned, plain-Jane CD directory last month, and I eagerly whipped it into my computer to see what had happened to my old college friends. I found quite a few of them listed, and several had provided personal and contact information. After almost 50 years, it was great to get an update on these old classmates, their families, their career paths and the accomplishments of many of them. Several of them had long and successful careers as teachers and school administrators, some operated small businesses, several became farmers/ranchers and I saw a couple of others who were also retired military officers.
There were no real surprises in the directory, but I was especially delighted to see the listing of one particular classmate, Patricia, who was a bit more than just a friend. Her brother, Jim, a retired vocational agriculture teacher in Howe, Texas, and I were dormitory roommates for a year, and her oldest brother, Glenn, was a graduate assistant instructor of mine.
Regrettably, I learned that he had been killed in an automobile accident about 15 years ago. They had also grown up on a sandy-land peanut farm and, like me, they sought the better life through education. After almost a half a century, I was pleased to learn that Pat is living the good life near Sacramento, Calif., playing golf several times a week and enjoying her children and grandchildren.
Catching up with my past through this alumni directory was a wonderful trip down memory lane – much better than unexpectedly having my past catch up with me.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.