Isn’t it amazing the power of senses? I have satellite radio in my automobile and I frequently listen to the songs of my youth. I hear a particular song and immediately I’m transported back in time to my high school years. Varying titles bring back to remembrance of girlfriends, cars, and events of the past.
I was privileged to attend high school in the smallest town in Massachusetts. I attended a boarding school there named Pioneer Valley Academy. It still exists, but it is now a training facility for state patrol officers. Yet for four years, with the exception of summers, it was my home in the late 1970’s.
Being a private Christian school, we didn’t do all the things other schools would do. We eschewed dances and proms, instead we had joint recreation in the gymnasium and a plethora of banquets. As a student you either chose to accept this scaled down lifestyle, or you rebelled; I chose the former.
Each month, the classes of freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior, had their own class parties. They tended to be held at the faculty home that served as class sponsor. Everyone wanted to be at the senior parties, not because they were any more spectacular in comparison, but the school principal’s wife was an amazing cook.
Our class of thirty-six seniors gathered one beautiful May day for the last party we’d ever have together as a class. There was mixed emotions and nostalgic conversation as we gathered on the lawn of our sponsor. As we kidded around with each other, one ‘bright’ class officer made a silly suggestion. “Why not play as our last game together, Red Rover?” Those not familiar with this childhood game, must understand, it’s best played with four year olds.
The game consists of two lines approximately thirty feet apart with all the participants holding hands. It is then that one person alternately between teams yells the name of a player with this call, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Danny on over.” It is then the designated person runs full tilt toward your line and hopes to break through. If he succeeds, one person in the line must switch sides. The calls volley back and forth until one line dominates with the most players.
Typically with preschool children, it is hilarious to watch. When the call is made, a little child barrels into the other line and they all fall like pins at a bowling alley. It’s always better when no one gets hurt except for a little pride. But play with competitive teens with testosterone to spare, and it is downright idiotic.
As I held the sweetest hand of my friend Ginny, we heard someone from our line calling our class president over. He was a determined, I could see it in his eyes. However he woefully underestimated our resolve. As he steam rolled our way, I knew he was gunning specifically towards us. Gripping my hand tightly, Ginny turned to me and with an heir of feistyness stated, ‘If you have to break my arm, don’t let him through.”
As he zeroed in on us like a laser, he went right for our locked hands. As quickly as it started, it was over, he was stopped dead in his tracks. Dangling bent over our arms like a hunter’s trophy, we were triumphant, we had stopped his incursion. However as I let go of Ginny’s hand to congratulate her, she screamed and grabbed her wrist.
Surrounded by her girlfriends and taken by car to the emergency room, the game was now unceremoniously over and done. I had spoiled the day’s party. It was late afternoon when Ginny came looking for me sporting a white cast. The very first words out of her mouth was, “When I told you to break my arm, I was only kidding.”
As I reminisced over my childhood memory, I think Ginny forgave me. Yeah, I know she hasn’t spoken to me in over 35 years, but she has to have forgiven me right? On second thought, I think I’ll start switching my satellite radio to more gospel stations. At least I know One person who freely forgives. That is one memory I never want to forget.