Voices from the Past
    by John Cech

I hadn't thought about my own high school days in the late early 1960s for some time -- in those days before Vietnam, before the cultural revolution, before everything, it seems, had begun to change and has kept changing. And then the mail brought some CDs from an old friend who'd managed to preserve some of the sounds of school life forty years ago, on reel to reel tape. And despite all the moves in his life, despite all the shifts in audio technology, here it is again -- like our principal's exhortation to us at the beginning of the school year to let the very sounds of the school.

There are some band and hall noises and other snippets, but the real gems are excerpts from an audition tape for one of the musicals that our school put on every year. These were for South Pacific, and here were the voices of classmates whom I haven't spoken with or seen for nearly four decades, sixteen and seventeen year olds singing about life and loss, and especially about love:

The lyrics of these songs, of course, make my classmates sound like teenagers from some archaic, sentimental past, from those distant days before irony, before there was supposed to be an edge to everything, when you could still sing a song like this, from the heart, and mean every word of it.

Copyright 2002 by John Cech

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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:21:36 EDT

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."