Monday, June 15, 2009


The other night we went to a piano student recital. Afterwards I was talking to the mother of several of the kids who participated and found out she went to the same high school as Greg and Katie, Mark Keppel. I told her I had gone to Dorsey; she thought about that for a moment then asked if that was around the Crenshaw area.

"That's right," I told her. I mentioned how she had probably heard about my alma mater on the news whenever there was talk about school violence or riots.

"They have a good football team, don't they?" she asked.

"Yes, even better in the parking lot after the game."

Then she reminded me that Keppel was also on television a few years ago, used as a prime example of why a bond measure desperately needed to be passed by the voters. Pathetic scenes of classrooms filled with holes in the walls at that school plastered the commercial.

Her oldest son was showing some of the other kids his high school yearbook, a really nice one. Filled with color pictures.

"Nice yearbook," I said.

"It should be. It cost $120. Actually $110 if you bought it the first day and got a $10 discount."

$110??? The mom and I reminisced about yearbooks from our respective times. She said hers was $40. Her respective time was quite a few years after my time; I think the Dorsey yearbook cost something like $15? I don't remember, but relatively speaking it was pretty cheap. But then the one from my graduation year had one color picture. Or maybe two. But that's it. Comparing yearbooks, ours was really sorry.

From the three years I was there, I remember seeing a picture of some white kids in one of the yearbooks. Since they were no longer native to the area by that time, I asked someone if those were "Apex" students (i.e., bussed-in white kids).

"Apex? Those aren't students. That's Cream!"

"Oh. Well they all look alike," I responded.

Our Foshay junior high yearbooks were even worse. During my graduation year the trailer holding the individual pictures burned down. So everyone took a picture with their homeroom. No names to match to the faces, and you had to go searching through each homeroom picture to find people. Since they were group photos, it was difficult finding anyone.

But despite the yearbooks being of less than stellar quality, I'm glad I still have mine. No matter how expensive they may be, it is worth buying because you'll always have it to look back upon.

Here's some pictures from that yearbook (click to enlarge).

In the above picture, that's me in the front row hiding my hands. Two doors to the left is Leslie Higaki, someone I knew back from elementary school but I don't know what happened to her after junior high. Actually, I don't even remember her being in my homeroom! Then up and to the right was my best buddy Alan Jones, and standing to the left of him is Danny Quon. Danny's sister Eileen goes to the same church as me. I just happened to find out one day that Danny is her brother when she mentioned she had gone to Foshay and so did her brother. "What's his name?" I asked.

That's Jane Kuwata and Keith Honda in the picture above (I assume I don't have to tell you which ones they are).

I think the guy in the middle is James Wong. I think.. it looks like him but the picture isn't very good so I am not sure. And the girl on the left in the front row - I can't remember her name. See, that's what's so bad about not having individual pics or having the names of people listed because after all these decades the brain cells are fizzled! But I do remember the girl on the right in the front row, though.. that's Lena Wong.

I happened to run into Lena a few years ago at of all places a funeral. She recognized me but I didn't recognize her. Her sister Doris was there, too. Doris was one of those 9th graders that looked like a grown-up when my buddy JT and I were in the 7th grade, and one of those girls we would look at and exclaim how "fine" they were, haha.. At the lunch in Chinatown afterwards I sat with the two sisters and we caught up on old times. I told Lena I had a crush on her in junior high, which surprised her because I had kept it such a secret. There was something liberating about finally revealing that to her after all those years, I guess because there was nothing riding on it and we could laugh about it now.

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