The crisp smell in the air. The morning a little darker. The trip to Pitman to pick out our school clothes. The sure and perfect signs we were going to school. And we were. To Gateway Regional High School. Woodbury High School was too small to accommodate the children of the baby boom and thus was born GRHS. Woodbury Heights, National Park, Westville, and Wenonah all sent their children to GRHS. If memory served the first classes were just 7th and 8th graders. We would be the first classes to go elsewhere; our parents had all gone to Woodbury HS but we would be part of the new generation. We were a little social experiment.
For the little knuckleheads from Wenonah it was to be our first bus ride to school. Our first interactions with the larger world. Our first time out of the little world we grew up in. We got our class assignments, our instructions on how to get on the bus and then on the first Tuesday after Labor Day we got on the bus. A Bluebird yellow school bus.
We boarded our bus at the corner of Jefferson and Mantua Avenue. In the beginning my friends came to our house first and then on to the bus. That would end soon. The bus took us up Mantua, made a left on Glassboro Rd and then a right through Deptford, past the pig farms, till at last we reached our mostly completed school. I say mostly because the auditorium, the auto shop, and the gym were not yet complete. They would be soon but we had to go to school so fuck it.
We ate in the cafeteria. Thirty five cents bought you a lunch and a milk. A dime bought an ice cream sandwich. There was no soda or salad or ice tea. Just lunch and milk.
It was all very exciting. I was assigned to class 7C. I was to stay in that class for most of my HS life. I can remember most of my fellow classmates by alphabetical order because i heard it time and time again. My memory begins at the L's. Lundquist, Maddox, Parker, Percival, Springer, Stens, Trocolli, Wernig, Williams, Wiler, Zahn. I'm sure I've fucked it up and someone out there will correct me. As they should. Lora Banks, John Camp,and all the others before Gary Lundquist are lost to the fog of memory. But we were all joined together in this great experiment. Separated by some weird system based on intelligence and personality that was established by tests we didn't even realize we were taking. Little lab rats in madras shirts and khaki pants sitting in neat little rows waiting to learn the new facts of life. And we would. And we would.