Aerial view of Del Norte High School, circa 1972. Today there is no parking lot, the main building is gone and what looks like a three-story office building dominates the side facing Montgomery Boulevard. Del Norte Baptist Church across the street is now completely hidden by apartment buildings.
In 1997 my parents drove to Pueblo, CO. to Dad's 50th reunion. Mom kidded him, saying "Did you really go to school with all those grey-haired women?"
Now it's my turn.
My God! Fifty years go by in a blink and getting into contact with people I haven't rubbed shoulders in decades, all of a sudden, the memories come back. The sorrowful part is the number of classmates many I went through Junior High and High school with are no longer with us.
I read the names recognizing friends and foes, some since the size of our class was so large, I didn't know, but recognized their yearbook faces. One name stood out for me.
Danny and I had little in common. I was the athlete, and he was chubby and clumsy. I was always mentioned in the school paper sports section, he was never mentioned. We ran in completely different circles. In high school we didn't share many of the same classes.
What we did have in common was our faith. McKinley Junior High was 60% Hispanic. in 7th grade Danny and I were Anglo and didn't go to the same elementary schools, so we didn't have any friends. There is no grade in school worse than 7th grade and for both of us it was pure hell.
For that year he was the one person I could encourage, and he encouraged me by our belief in Jesus. He was Pentecostal and I was a Baptist. I went to the church across the street from the school. That didn't matter we shared a faith in Jesus.
In high school we met during lunch or before school and talked. He was effeminate in manner and speech. The jocks always gave me a funny look while we were laughing and joking together.
After graduation we lost contact. I went to college on a track scholarship and most of my high school classmates were out of my thoughts. Then a funny thing happened in 1989.
We had a Volkswagen Westphalia and, on a Saturday decided to go camping. Son was 8 and daughter 3. We drove to a state park not far from Albuquerque, pitched a tent for daughter to stay out of the sun and she had her toys to keep happy. We played a little baseball with plastic balls and bat with my son. That lasted about thirty minutes and we were attacked by gnats. A swarm of them and they were biting. Decided not to set up the badminton net. This wasn't fun anymore.
We packed up and went home. A few hours later I got a phone call, this was when we were in the phone book and had a land line. Danny called. He and his wife and two children were in town and their car broke down. His grandparent surprisingly lived a block away from wife's parents. He wanted to know if we could pick him up and drive them to the other side of the river.
It was a good thing we had the Westphalia, and we were back in town. We picked them up and took them to a diner for dinner then down to his grandparents. We had a great time catching up, his wife and mine talked, which is rare for my wife who is rather shy around strangers. His kids and our kids had a great time in the back of the van, good thing there weren't any seatbelt laws at that time.
We stopped afterwards and paid a surprise visit to wife's parents. On the way home it was crazy, but did God send a plague of gnats so we would be there to help a friend in need?