Thanks for the Memories

My writing chair is in the family room. The heavy sliding door in the family room is the most used door in the house. It’s also twenty-some years old and has become harder and harder to open and close. And now, for someone on a walker, it’s virtually impossible to use. So much so that we finally decided to have it replaced, and today is the day. Dogs and people are now ensconced in the master bedroom. Let’s just say it’s a tight fit. Can I manage to work here with the Sawzall buzzing in the background? We’ll soon see.

When I was writing the next Beaumont book, a character shows up on Beau’s doorstep bringing with him a paperback reprint of an old high school yearbook from Homer, Alaska. Well, as they say, what goes around comes around.

I graduated from Bisbee High school in 1962. The summer I graduated from eighth grade, they were building a new high school in the part of Bisbee known as Warren. Unfortunately, the completion date got set back, and the facility wasn’t ready by the time school started in the fall. As a consequence the first semester of my freshman year was at the old high school, up the canyon in Old Bisbee. The four-story structure is built into the side of a hill imaginatively named … wait for it … School Hill. By the way, Old Bisbee High School once made it into the Guiness Book of World Records due to the fact that it had four ground floors. That meant there were a lot of stairs. It was also a time of full skirts and crinolines. Wait, have I just managed to decode, all these years later, why so many boys tended to hang out around the bottom of those many staircases?

Second semester of my freshman year, we moved to the new high school, then as now referred to as New Bisbee High School on, you guessed it, School Terrace Road. It, too, is built on a hill, but not as steep a one, so it consists of three separate wings built up a gradual incline and connected by covered breezeways. The old high school had no cafeteria or auditorium. The new one has both along with a separate free-standing gym and band room. When we arrived for at the beginning of second semester in 1959, everything was brand, spanking new—the desks, the tables, the paint. The rose garden down by the flagpole, eventually planted and lovingly nurtured by longtime groundskeeper, Charles Baugh, was nothing more than a vague idea and a plot of dirt.

Bisbee was a copper mining town. The BHS yearbook is called the Cuprite, and at one time I owned the entire four-year collection covering my days at Bisbee High. My two older sisters, who were in school at the same time, had to share, but I was one my own. The yearbook for my freshman year was all about saying goodbye to the old school building and its uptown location. Because ours was the last classes that had attended both schools, the school, cover for the 1962 yearbook featured a color photo of the front entrance to the new school with the flagpole in the foreground and the auditorium and office complex in the background.

A few years ago, when several of my classmates came to dinner, I went to the library to retrieve my yearbooks only to discover that they weren’t there. Because we had the house in Tucson, I assumed they must have ended up on those bookshelves, but it turns out I was wrong. When I checked, they weren’t in Tucson, either. Somehow, in my many travels up and down I-5, the box containing yearbooks, not only mine, but those of my first husband as well along with two from our years of teaching at Sells had gone missing.

Pat McAdams—now Pat McAdams Hall—and I became friends in fourth grade. She lived just a block away, as long as I used the path between our fence and Mrs. Corbett’s garage to get there walking. And, in case you’re interested, Thelma and Mac McAdams’ house on Campbell Avenue is the one I pictured in my mind as being the house where Joanna Brady grew up.

Pat was visiting here from Florida on the occasion of our Cuprite-free dinner. Several years later, what should show up in the mail but a paperback reprint of the 1961 edition of the Cuprite, compliments of Pat. I was glad to have the one from our junior year, but this week the mailman and Pat came through once again. This time, when I opened the envelope there was the one from our senior year.

In the Beaumont book, the comments in the fictional reprint copy of the Log, are inscribed to someone named Edwina. That’s all the reader and the writer ever learn about her—the name. My original copy of the Cuprite had my name, Judy Busk, printed in gold letters on the front cover. The one I have now has no inscription, and the comments inside are addressed to Gary with no last name included. I suspect that it may have belonged to Gary Farley, but I don’t know that for sure.

I haven’t read those comments, because they were meant for Gary not for me. Reading them would be like snooping into someone else’s private correspondence, but I’m so glad to have the book itself. I’ve pored over the photographs of those young hopeful faces, noting as I went the ones that are sadly no longer with us. Since Gary Nolastname’s yearbook ended up in someone else’s hands, I suspect that he’s no longer with us, either, but I’m so grateful that someone made it possible for a copy of his Cuprite to come to me.

And so to both Pat McAdams Hall and Gary Nolastname, thanks for the memories.

Now I believe I’ll go out and get my steps, marching away while humming the tune of Onward Bisbee. In fact, I think I’ll go change my shirt so I can be wearing Red and Gray while I’m outside walking.

Most of my kids and grandkids are or will be Cougars from Washington State University. And although I attended the University of Arizona, making me a Wildcat, in my heart of hearts, I’ll always be a Puma from Bisbee High.

Onward Bisbee indeed!

27 thoughts on “Thanks for the Memories

  1. Your high school memories could be mine also. We moved from the old high school, two stories with a basement gym, free standing band room and lunchroom. To a new school with wings for elementary, junior high and high school connected by covered passageways on an uphill grade. We spent two months in the old school and moved shortly before JFK’s assassination, so we were the last grade to spend time in both school. I was just starting the seventh grade. Sixty years later it is still called the “new” school. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  2. Wonderful. Class of 55 here from a Long Beach, CA high school. First thing I saw when I opened my ipad this morning was a snapshot of a casual gathering of my classmates. Posted by a woman in IN that I met in elementary school! My class had reunions up through the 60th. I finally attended the 55th! Several gals ended up with copies of our senior annual that had belonged to others. Thrilled to get them! I was raised in a big city but our northern neighborhood was like a small town. Teachers lived in the community, classmates parents owned businesses, etc. Nice memories. They were kept alive because my daughter was class of 76!

  3. Reading your blogs makes me feel like I have known you for years. You certainly have a God given talent. this 72 year old has only been reading your books for about a year; but both of my parents read your books for many years before they passed on. Thank You for all of the great reads.

  4. High school memories are of years we will never forget. We were the Class of 1949. When we are with old friends, we sometimes sing our old school songs … “The Red and white are passing by”. We might not remember what we had for dinner yesterday, but we remember all the word to the songs because “We stand for standard that are rare, in every game we are on the square .” Those where good time to remember. From time to time, I will show up wearing my husband’s old Letterman’s sweater.
    It still makes me feel “special.”

  5. I really enjoyed your latest Ali Reynolds book. Minimal technical computer stuff this time. Thank you. I was very surprised to read about Beau in his latest town of Bellingham, WA., my home of 40 years. Anxiously awaiting his return in your next book in 2022. I get my books from the library and read all the J.A. Jance books in about 2 days. My older neighbors next door then read the book and pass it on to their daughter across the street. The library book is then returned to the library, long before the due date. That denotes how much we all live your writing. Thanks for keeping us appreciating your nbooks. Take care.

  6. FYI to those who are in possession of a yearbook from a person who has passed on, you can donate them to Ancestry. If I ever get down to the bottom of my storage boxes that is what I planned to do with my high school yearbook. Why? Because at the moment, Ancestry does not have the year I graduated which was 1961. I have found cousins in yearbooks from the schools they graduated from which is helpful.

  7. “Thanks for the memories” indeed. Each week, I think we all devour the Friday blog enthusiastically. We not only to read about JA Jance’s musings and informational background on characters but we drift off into our own live events. This morning, I thought of the crinolines that I saw uptown yesterday at a Thrift Store. There were several of them – all waiting to be picked up for Halloween costumes!!! This is only one item in today’s blog that sent my mind rewinding to similar past experiences. I may as well post a “do not disturb” sign around me on Friday mornings because after reading and reminiscing, I’m always thankful for the memories that have been reawakened.

  8. Hi J.A
    I love hearing about your high school days.. I graduated in 1965 and I still have my yearbooks. I feel like I know you. One of these days
    I want to visit Bisbee. I looked it up on the computer and it looks like such and interesting town. I can’t wait to read you new books. You are a real gifted writer and I love your blog. Keep on writing!

  9. I re-read Sins of the Fathers this week, and was struck by how much Beau sounds like you! I hadn’t read a Beaumont since I started reading your blog (which I am working my way through in reverse, year by year), just Missing and Endangered and then several Ali books. I don’t think it’s just that you write both the blog and Beau in first person; I see a lot of YOUR personality in him.

    2022 will bring me to the 50th anniversary of graduating high school. I haven’t been to any reunions for high school number 2, the one I actually graduated from, and the last time I showed up at high school number 1 was the 30th reunion. My best friend from that school died in 2015, and I wonder if I can bear to go to the 50th without her. I lived far longer in the first town than the second, so I do feel more connected to that one.

    I’ve always envied people whose families didn’t move. I often felt like a fish out of water, not just new but bookish and shy and astigmatic/nearsighted enough to be hopeless at any sport that required tracking a moving object. Thank heavens for the friends I found in books! But, inspired by your blog, maybe today I’ll haul out the yearbooks and look at some non-fictional friends in those precious books.

    • I started wearing glasses in second grade but should have been wearing them in first. By the time I had Lasik surgery in 1994, my vision was 20/850 and 20/900. Boy do I hear you about sports with moving objects!

      • Got my first glasses in third grade, after three years of parents hauling me away from the TV because I was sitting too close. The school I was in for 1st and 2nd did almost all work at tables in small groups and on worksheets. Moved for 3rd grade, traditional classroom and couldn’t see the blackboard. Parents still didn’t believe me; thought I was envious of new friend who wore glasses. The day after I got my glasses, we were in the car and I commented in amazement about a clock on a billboard I had never been able to see before. That’s when my mother finally got it!

        My eyes never got as bad as yours but I certainly understand how we both missed the window for learning hand-eye coordination skills. I did, you’ll be happy to hear, turn into a passable bowler (not as good as Colt!) and swimmer. Had good enough balance that I enjoyed ice dancing in my 20s. But growing up in a family of ball-sports-playing people, I was the family klutz.

  10. You should check out Classmates. com
    They have copies of yearbooks for many schools and you can also connect with your old classmates. I’ve found a few of mine.
    My class of 1969 was the last to graduate from the “Old Centralia, WA” high school as a new one opened the next year. Their are only2 parts of the old high school left the pillars that stood at the front entrance to the school and the gym that has been remodeled and is now part of Centralia College. I’ll always be a tiger at heart!
    Thanks for sharing your memories!!

  11. Why are you having to use a walker? This is the first I have heard of that.
    My husband has a cousin who lives in Homer, Alaska.
    And, my granddaughter, Leanne, is attending WSU. Last year attended from home but this year is over there living in a dorm.

  12. I graduated in 1953 and have my yearbook because I was one of the editors. I look very serious in my photo because I had braces and did not want to smile. The school has been torn down and students go to a regional high school. I haven’t been back for an alumni banquet which is held every year on Memorial Day weekend. I’d rather remember it as it was not as it is now.

  13. Thanks again for tying my memories to your stories. Pumas got beat Again by Douglasa couple of weeks ago at Bisbee memorial Field (could hear roar of crowd on Van Dyke st. My sisters place) also passed your H. S. described place several times headded to Safeway and Naco. Makes me feel like visiting your old home town MORE! Chuck from Tacoma, WA.

  14. I so enjoyed this blog . I graduated in 1959 from a school in a small town in Oklahoma. My class was the first to graduate from the new high school. This past year they demolished the old high school. I now live in Texas, but frequently visit my hometown, since my husband and I decided that we wanted to be buried there. The first trip after the school was demolished, I got all of my yearbooks and my late husband’s as well and took a trip down memory lane. I am so sorry that you have lost yours. I love all your books and have read them all multiple times. I am so happy that I own them all. We made a trip to Bisbee….love that town, please keep writing!

  15. Hi Judy. You probably don’t remember this, but your senior yearbook was my freshman book, and I took it with me to a book signing you were doing in Silverdale about 30 years ago to have you sign it. As I stood in line for the signature people all around me asked why I had a book called Cuprite, and when I told them and showed them your Sr. picture they were all excited. When I got to the front of the line there was a small group standing to the side to watch what happened, and I opened the book to your picture, set it down in front of you, and said “Sign my Cuprite?” You looked up in surprise and signed it J.A. Jance. Probably the only 1962 Cuprite with that signature in existance. After the signing I stayed around and we chatted a little, and I always enjoy that memory.

  16. Haha! I was in the last class to graduate from my un-airconditioned 3 story HS in New Orleans. The next year the HS was a brand new air-conditioned 2 story campus. They would never get the exercise we had of running up and down the stairs from class to class in sweltering weather. Or for that matter from the main building to the gym a block away!
    I still have all my yearbooks. They might not survive another move though.

  17. Oh, Judy, what a wonderful friend you have in Pat Hall!!! That has to be one of the nicest gifts you ever receive.

    I could only afford one yearbook when I was in high school and somewhere in all my moves, it has gotten lost. High School was not a particularly happy time in my life, but I do enjoy thinking about some of my old friends.

    Our best wishes to Bill. It’s hard to imagine him using a walker all the time.

    As always, I look forward to your next book out, regardless of which series it may be.

  18. Could identify with this one since you and I graduated high school the same year. I keep losing class mates which is very sad. Our class was small – only around 100. Thankfully I am still in touch with a few of them.

  19. Class of 1962! Similar story: started high school in the next town, then a new high school was built in my hometown. So, we had to spend our senior year in the new school, leaving half of our friends! Unfair! We went from being Libertyville Illinois Wildcats to Mundelein Illinois Mustangs. Not a lot of us were happy to spend our senior year in a new school. As for me, my dad had attended Libertyville High, as well as my older brother. I always thought I would carry on the tradition. Oh well!
    Thanks for all your remarkable books. I have read them all. Always look forward to the next one. You are special to me, and many others.

  20. Glad you two got a copy of your Cuprite. Ours was the ‘64 West Seattle Kimtah yearbook.
    Go Cougs! One of my daughter and SIL’s good friends taught in the music program there. Brian Ward is away studying and getting even more music knowledge.
    Dick Farman was a church friend of my family, back in our parents generation. He played football there, before he turned pro. He later founded Farmans Pickle Co.

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