June 16, 1960
By Wayne Overbeck
(written in March, 2000)
Several years ago a Class of 1960 newsletter said I had
the "master audio tape... made by Voice of Mira Costa (VOMC) of our graduation."
That isn't quite what I had: it was a tape
that my father made on an ancient monaural recorder. It was definitely
a "master" tape. However, I received some calls about the tape, and
I told several people I'd try to find the tape and make copies.
When I found the tape, I couldn't play it on any
modern recorder. The only hope was to find the recorder on which
the tape was made--and get it running again after all these years.
Miraculously, the old recorder (an early-50s model "Revere") was buried
in a closet, and it worked--sort of. When I first tried to play the
tape, Janice Scott (our valedictorian) sounded like Paul Robeson
and Lloyd Waller (our principal) sounded like one of the Chipmunks.
After some cleaning, lubrication and tube replacements
(remember vacuum tubes--those glass things with an orange glow?), the Revere
made voices sound about right. Then I discovered that the tape had
enough gaps to make the Watergate tapes seem complete. But at least
I could listen to the tape for the first time in about 30 years, and it
brought back a lot of memories.
Several of the graduation speeches were incomplete.
The beginning of Vince Thomas' class greeting and Stan Yetter's
speech were both missing. And the conclusion of Don Roland's
speech was gone. On the other hand, the reading of the 400-plus names
seemed to be intact, interrupted only by airplanes flying over Mustang
Stadium. The introductions of award winners and California Scholarship
Federation Sealbearers were also intact on the tape.
As I listened to this graduation tape again, I felt
like a time traveler. Many of us are AARP members now, either retired
or planning retirement. We're eligible for senior discounts at movies
and restaurants. But here were our voices, speaking with the enthusiasm
of youth. We weren't old enough to vote or drink legally. Some
of us had grandparents about as old as we are now.
In her valedictory address, Janice Scott
spoke about civic responsibility and good government. It seemed almost
as if she knew Watergate and other government scandals were going to happen.
Our other speakers gave forward-looking speeches,
too. The late George Fraga delivered an appeal for unity and
brotherhood through education, expressing ideas that were ahead of their
time then--but came to dominate the national agenda a few years later.
Stan Yetter spoke of specialization, predicting both the benefits
and costs that we now associate with specialization. Don Roland
called for ethical living through education and left me wondering what
the world would be like today if we had all taken his advice seriously--and
In many ways, listening to the graduation tape reminded
me how much America has changed since 1960. The graduation speakers
routinely used male nouns and pronouns to describe all of humanity.
There was a lot of talk about "the educated man," as if there weren't any
educated women. Also, the ceremony began and ended with decidedly
Protestant Christian prayers, something that would be unconstitutional
today because of post-1960 Supreme Court decisions.
Another thing I noticed more than ever before was
the Asian and Hispanic names in our class. In those days, it seemed
as if everyone was assimilating into the cultural mainstream. Our
idea of cultural diversity was having some "ho-dads" as well as "surfers"
around. Ethnic gangs and graffiti were something we saw in "West
Side Story," not realities in our daily lives. Was it easier to accept
people as individuals then, or am I lost in some of Barbra's "misty water-color
memories of the way we were?"
As I listened to the tape, I also noticed how quiet
and respectful we, our friends and families all were. The decorum
of the ceremony was disturbed only rarely by noise in the stands. Graduation
ceremonies today are often raucous affairs with constant interruptions.
Now administrators go to great lengths in an often-futile attempt to keep
Finally, as I listened to the 400 names, I wondered
what became of everyone. Perhaps as we approach the 40th anniversary
of our graduation this website will help us rediscover each other--and
learn more about the way we are as well as the way we were.
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