The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 21, 2012

Mike Pound: Forty years changes perspective for 1972 class

Marsha Long and her husband recently viewed an 18-minute slide show put together by a classmate for their 40th high school reunion.

At the end of the show Marsha said her husband told her, “It doesn’t seem like 18 minutes. It went by real quick.”

I mentioned to Marsha that the same could probably be said about the 40 years that have passed since she and her fellow members of the class of 1972 walked through the halls of what was then Joplin’s Parkwood High School.

That’s the thing about getting older, it sneaks up on you.

Marsha and I are close to the same age. In fact, when Marsha said she graduated in 1972 she made me think, “Holy Cow, that means my sister’s (my older sister’s) 40th class reunion is this year too.”

Marsha and I talked about getting older. How is it, we wondered, that we could be in our 50s yet still think we’re 18 years old? By the way, thinking that you’re 18 years old is not the same as feeling that you’re 18 years old. There are times when I feel like I’m 18 but there also are times when I stand up — after being seated for a long time — and have to take a few slow steps until my back wakes up . In other words, there are times when I feel like I’m in my 90s. Nonetheless, most of the time, I still think I’m 18.

Younger people out there, if they’re reading this at all, are most likely thinking: “That will never happen to me.” Older folks out there, if they can find their reading glasses, are probably thinking: “Just wait, it gets worse.”

Marsha said this year’s class reunion will be special and not just because it’s the 40th. For those who don’t know, for a number of years there were two Joplin High Schools: Memorial High School and Parkwood High School. In the 1980s they were combined into the town’s only high school. That building, near 20th Street and Indiana Avenue, was destroyed in the May 22 tornado.

Marsha says there are likely many former classmates who moved from Joplin long ago who will be returning to their hometown for the first time. For them, Marsha said, it will be their first chance to get a look at what is left of their old high school.

Marsha is the daughter of famed local photographer Murwin Mosler and as a result says she has access to a number of photographs of her former high school and classmates. Many of those photographs will be in the aforementioned slide show and others will be on display at a reception scheduled for tonight.

“Ten years ago a picture of the building, the library or the parking lot didn’t mean much. Now they will be fun to look at,” she said.

Marsha and her classmates also have invited as many of their former teachers as they could contact to the reunion. Marsha said Keith Zeka, who was then a young teacher at Parkwood and who would later serve as the principal at the combined high school, told her he was thrilled with the invitation.

“He said, ‘Usually, the only time we (former Parkwood teachers) see each other is at funerals’,” Marsha said.

The Parkwood High School 40th Reunion gets underway at 6 p.m. tonight with a reception at the Ramsey Building located at Sixth and Main Streets. At 10 a.m. Saturday there will be a chance to tour the current 11th and 12th Grade Center at the Northpark Mall. The group will then tour the former Fox Theater (now Central Christian Church) and then tour the Newman Building. The gathering will conclude with a reception at the Holiday Inn.

Marsha said she’s certain the May 22 tornado will, as it has for her, cause many of her classmates to think a bit differently about the passage of time.

“We’ve all had those conversations. We all have a whole different perspective on life than even 10 years ago. For many of us, our parents are gone and our children are grown. It’s a whole different time in life,” she said.

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