Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Lucky Thirteen

Today's mail was noteworthy in that it contained a copy of the 1959 Watanyah, the first West Rome High School yearbook. I've been searching for the 1959 and 1960 yearbooks for quite a while, and only this week did I acquire the final volume to complete my set of the first thirteen yearbooks. These thirteen books cover West Rome High from the year the school began until the year I graduated. It's not the sort of thing that many people are likely to place high on their book-collecting priority list, but I find it fascinating to go through these books, looking at familiar names from the years before my time at West Rome, as well as classmates from my years there.

West Rome was a relatively small community--fewer than 400 students when the school opened in 1959, growing to about 600 students by the time I graduated--and many of the students in the early yearbooks were siblings of my classmates. It's also interesting to check the advertisers and sponsors list and see businesses that were a part of my childhood--businesses that have been gone for decades now. It's a nostalgic look at a community I was proud to be a part of, and a community that will always be a part of me. I will always believe that Rome lost a wonderful sense of community when West and East Rome High Schools were closed in 1992 and merged into Rome High (a school located so far on the outskirts of Rome that it isn't close to any significant portion of the student body). Rome thrived when these two schools existed, and its decline began soon after they were closed an demolished to make way for a Walmart and a Kmart, respectively. These books preserve a much better era in Rome's history.

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