Jane and I got a kick out of perusing our old high school yearbooks.

I flopped down on one sofa and my sister reclined on the other. We had quite a time, comparing how our classmates looked then and how they look now, what professions they chose, and how they turned out.

Jane, who is a year older than I, pointed to the photo of a guidance counselor and grimaced.

“He’s the one who told me I probably shouldn’t bother to go to college,” she recalled.

We laughed, considering she graduated from college with nearly a 4.0 grade point average.

There were photos of me in the drama club, dancing around the stage as a Pick-a-Little Lady in “Music Man,” sitting in an old wooden chair-desk, playing a student in “Up the Down Staircase,” and wearing a silly fur coat as I, drama club treasurer, posed with other club officers for a group shot.

One of my fellow thespians was a smart and capable guy who was told by his Latin teacher, in front of the whole class, that he would never amount to anything.

Though I rarely see that friend now in person — he is a world-renowned photographer — I watch his Facebook posts, marveling at the photos he takes as he travels the globe and exhibits his works in prestigious galleries.

I had plucked my yearbook from the shelf when Jane came to visit because I was asked recently by a woman who was organizing my husband’s class reunion to send her a photo of myself when I was in high school. She wanted to place my photo on my name tag as she was doing for Phil and his classmates.

When I found my yearbook on the shelf in our sun room, I also found Jane’s.

We spent an hour or two, flipping through the pages, reading the comments our classmates wrote to us.

“Your a very considerate person who needs an awful lot of sleep,” one girl named Audrey wrote in my book.

I do remember that in high school I loved to stay up late on school nights, hated getting up in the morning and relished sleeping long hours on weekends. But why Audrey wrote that in my yearbook, I haven’t a clue, unless I advertised to the whole class back then that I slept a lot.

Funny, the things people wrote — and some close friends coveted a whole page to prattle on about everything under the sun.

One good friend with whom I maintain contact, though she now lives far away, wrote: “Even though we don’t see eye to eye on some things (mainly my taste in males), we do think alike — differently from anyone else in this hole they call a school.”

I stay in touch with several friends from high school, though it was 43 years ago. Occasionally I’ll run into one I have not seen in years and marvel at how he or she hasn’t changed much over the years.

I thought of this as Phil and I attended his class reunion last weekend in Massachusetts.

Of 400 students in his class, only 75 showed up, plus only about seven spouses.

We had a moment of silence for the 50 or so who have died since graduation, heard the class president cite significant happenings from senior year and ask how many couples present had gone to the prom together. Three couples raised their hands.

Though I knew none of the people at Phil’s reunion, I had a great time, singing songs from the ’60s aloud with our table mates, Charity and Jeff, which included “Ode to Billie Jo,” “To Sir With Love,” “The Letter” and “Light my Fire.”

One couple I met had just returned from Vietnam, and it was his first visit there since he fought in the war. I asked how it felt being there, and he said it is a beautiful country and the people were friendly. Of course, I asked if he had seen Ken Burns’ 10-part documentary on Vietnam. He had, and thought it well done.

Jeff, with whom we sat during dinner, recalled going to Woodstock in 1969, an event that he said changed his entire worldview at the time. He chuckled, recalling discussions he has been having online with high school classmates who are more conservative.

Which brings me to reflect on how idealistic we all were as teens and how passionate about politics and literature and world events. Though, all those years ago, we tended to talk with fellow classmates from all walks of life and leanings, we for the most part were drawn to those who shared similar philosophies, interests and beliefs.

Now that we are older, are more settled and realize how lucky we are to still be here, we are more tolerant, enjoy learning about people despite their differences and have friends of opposite political leanings.

It’s a product of age and experience, I guess.

I remember my father and father-in-law in their 90s, happy as clams merely to be with each other. They’d enjoy a meal, laugh, talk about the old days and share World War II stories, though they likely would have disagreed on some political issues, had they bothered to go there. But that was not what mattered in their old age.

It reminds me that we humans really are more alike than we are different, and in the end, are fortunate just to know each other and share the same orbit.

Would that our world leaders could grasp that simple concept and find common ground.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 29 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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