Tag Archives: high school

Characters

The finest birthday cake I’ve ever had, bar none. Thanks, Tami!

(Hereby I move a bit closer to posting purely about writing as I add a subcategory “characterization” to my category list. Ahem.)

As you may guess from the picture above, I recently turned 70. My birthday is September 3rd, but the cake was presented at a party last Saturday. That doesn’t mean anything, but I like to hit keys. A few years ago I joined Facebook. At first, I had no idea what to do with it. Now, I do the same things over and over. One of those things is to follow various French Ex-Pat pages and groups, but that doesn’t mean anything in the context of this post. The other thing that I do is keep in touch with people, some of whom I have seen very seldom, if at all, in decades. I mean my old friends from the Tiffin Columbian High School Class of ’67. I have seen some of them a few times, and a couple of years ago I attended our 50th class reunion. It was cool. Not only did I get to reacquaint myself with old friends, but we got a tour of the high school from the current principal. It’s a mid-century masterpiece of architecture, and no wonder I always liked the building. But, that doesn’t mean anything just now, either.

What does mean something is that, having re-connected with my class, I have discovered that I still like the same people, for pretty much the same reasons. I’ve never disliked anybody in my class (our school wasn’t as clique infested as some) but those I was indifferent about then, I’m indifferent about now. Which seems to me to indicate that, here it is, folks, a person’s character is reasonably consistent over their lifetime. The jokers (including me) are still jokers half a century on, the studious ones are still studious, the good old boys and girls are still good old boys and girls, and I could actually probably name every classmate and expound on how they haven’t changed much.

Well, some of them have ceased to exist. I guess that’s a pretty big change, but for the rest of us, we still are pretty much who we were at 17 and 18 years old. (We graduated on 11 June 1967, so it’s pretty much half and half.) Which further, it seems to me, points out the importance of knowing the backstory for each of your characters. I write backstory for every character that has anything significant to say. Most of the characters in any story are nameless, and say nothing, but they’re there supporting the principal cast and helping to move the story along. Them I don’t write a history for. But everyone else, even fairly minor characters, I, at least, know where they’re coming from, villains included. Because what they were at eighteen is what they are at forty, or whatever, and knowing what they did in high school (so to speak) tells a lot about what they will do on the job.

So, there’s some further advice from me for you: know thine characters’ backgrounds withal!

High school class reunions. And they say there’s no place to get new ideas any more.

Vacation

The Beautiful Ohio River. To the Left, the Monangahela, to the right, the Allegheny. This spot is in what is now known as Point State Park, Pennsylvania.
The Beautiful Ohio River. To the Left, the Monongahela, to the right, the Allegheny. This spot is in what is now known as Point State Park, Pennsylvania.

I have now seen the headwaters or source of three great rivers. The Mississippi, at Lake Itasca, where I stepped across the mighty river on stones, and had a drink of the water straight from the stream. (I like to live dangerously at times.) The Colorado, the source of which is away up in Rocky Mountain National Park, in a series of streams and rivulets that empty into Grand Lake. And  now the Ohio, born of the confluence of the Monongahela  and Allegheny rivers in Pittsburgh. Strictly in terms of water, the Ohio is the most impressive, but Rocky Mountain National Park, well, wow!

I took time last week to attend my 50th High School Class reunion in Tiffin, Ohio. I didn’t write anything, so in keeping with that general theme, this post is not about writing. Everybody needs a little time off, right?

Amongst other things, I took a tour of my old high school, which is still there, and still in excellent condition. It opened in 1960, I first attended in 1964. Amazingly, it looks just as good now as it did then. One thing I did not appreciate at the time is that the building is a mid-century masterpiece. Here’s a look at the main hallway.

The main hallway at Columbian High School. Could have been taken in 1964, was taken August 11, 2017. The blue walls with the orange stripes are the restrooms, which were remodeled and improved, but decorated with matching tiles.
The main hallway at Columbian High School. Could have been taken in 1964, was taken August 11, 2017. The blue walls with the orange stripes are the restrooms, which were remodeled and improved, but decorated with matching tiles.

The auditorium (not shown) is exactly as it was, which is both amazing and, frankly, sort of sad. My real sadness, though, is that the planetarium died, and was converted into a teacher’s lounge.* Not that teachers don’t need a lounge. Oh, mercy, they do! But, I dearly loved that planetarium.

And, a mystery was solved. Study Hall was, and is, in room 201. Every time I’ve encountered a room 201, something has nagged at the back of my mind, as if 201 is a significant number. (Don’t know that it is, objectively.) But when I saw the old room, and the number 201, the mystery was solved! I spent many hours, mostly happy ones believe it or not, in 201. No wonder I like that number, huh?

Of course, we didn’t have water vending machines. (In the teachers’ lounge you can get the usual sweet stuff, but none for the students.) But other than that, it looks about exactly the same.

Which, of course, it isn’t. The Principal told us that they have an aviation program from which one graduates not just with a diploma, but with a pilot’s license. Some students (the brightest ones, I’m guessing) attend college while enrolled. They have several programs to intervene with at risk students to help them graduate, which actually succeed. Nice stuff. If you’re thinking that the state of education is bad, you’d have to think again if you toured Columbian.

Oh, yeah, there was a dinner, too, and I got to meet with some of the guys I used to hang with. Nice, that.

You can check out my old school on Facebook here, or at their website here.

*A classmate told me that he installed the hanging ceiling in that lounge, and that it wasn’t easy. I believe him.