Long ago and far away in a town called Midland Park

the 1965 Midland Park High School yearbookWe’ve been thinking a bit of late about the scavenging through artifacts left behind from decades not long past that we do on a regular basis.

They often yield surprises we don’t expect.

A few years ago (aw heck, we’ll come clean—it was 1997), we were wandering through a tiny flea market in our Manhattan neighborhood, just a few blocks from where we reside.

We were taken by a 1965 yearbook from Midland Park Junior/Senior High School in Midland Park, New Jersey. We kind of liked the design of the book, and we enjoyed, as we always do when browsing old yearbooks, taking in the faces and fashions of the students and faculty. The year 1965 was on that cusp between the bouffants and crew cuts of the Fifties and early Sixties and the coming Mod look of the late Sixties. Most of the pictures could just as easily have come from a 1959 yearbook, frankly, but there were a few signs of what was to come: In one candid shot, for example, a boy was dressed in rather psychedelic-era duds, with longish hair and a beret (though it seemed to have been a costume).

But mostly, we were intrigued by the mystery of whose yearbook it was. There were, throughout, inscriptions to someone named “Jack” [We’ve changed all the names in this account to preserve anonymity]. One full page one was filled with the sentiments of a young man bemoaning the fact that he and Jack had never gotten closer, though he expressed agreement with the way Jack had once assessed their relationship: They were too much alike, Jack felt, to ever be very close.

Despite that, Bob, the inscriber, praised Jack. “You, as the ‘Banger,’ really know how to make the wild scene, but always keep your sense of values within firm grasp.” Bob goes on to urge Jack to remember that, “[H]aving a good time means many things to many different people—never ridicule anyone who would rather sit home and read rather than go ‘upstate.'” Bob quickly dropped that stance, however, admitting that he had no place to lecture Jack.

Jack’s English teacher, Cathy Cartwright, an attractive young brunette in a black turtleneck sweater and with a B.A. from Paterson State College in Paterson, N.J., writes, “Jack—One of the few we shall never forget. It was quite an experience having you in class these two years. You made it worth it [emphasis Miss Cartwright’s]. Keep in touch tomorrows.”
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