“Graduation” by Al “Doc” Mehl

Al “Doc” Mehl


Sometimes I feel I maybe oughta
Tell of eastern Colorado,
And the little town where I attended school.
That town had one run-down saloon,
One little school (just one square room),
And just one pump that rang a bell when you’d re-fuel.

’Twas just a little prairie town,
And so the kids from all around
Would have to all take school together, I’m afraid.
And since that county’s population
Wasn’t bent on procreation,
We would number just a couple in each grade.

Now we had one great winter storm,
And couples snuggled to stay warm;
It came on New Year’s Day of 1941.
And in nine months (predictably),
Six couples all birthed progeny,
And in that banner litter… turns out I was one.

See, Mrs. Finn gave birth to twins,
The Guenther triplets then checked in,
One other pair, then me, and Blair, and Adeline.
And, as if joined by one long tether,
We all went through school together,
And became the class of 1959.

Our little school, at least back then,
Had never seen a class of ten;
With our enrollment, it was burstin’ at the seams.
And so, with each successive grade,
A few adjustments would be made
To keep us movin’ toward our graduation dreams.

Now it was spring, my senior year,
I maybe first began to fear
That my straight path toward graduation might be bent.
See, in my class, the other nine,
Unlike myself, were doin’ fine,
So I was mired… in the bottom ten percent!

I s’ppose I really didn’t get it,
That I didn’t have the credits
To be graduatin’ with that close-knit pack.
I still recall that teacher’s voice
As she explained she had no choice;
Instead of graduation, I would be held back.

’Twas no big deal (my point of view).
The class of ’60 numbered two,
And now, with me, they’d number three, or so I’d heard.
But, though I hit the books again,
I guess it hurt a little when
I learned that I was ranked… down in the bottom third!

I fell behind, I will admit;
’Twas not “attention deficit,”
In fact, a growing sense of “tension” had begun.
And, in the spring, that old schoolmarm,
She came and led me by the arm,
I’d have to join the class of 1961.

Now in my new class, I should tell ya,
There was just one other fella,
And his study skills would kinda make you laugh.
I figured now I had it made,
Until I fin’lly saw my grades,
And then discovered… I was in the bottom half!

It seemed that I could never win,
And, yes, they held me back again!
I was a pris’ner there inside those iv’ry towers.
I was no longer havin’ fun,
And I was pushin’ twenty-one!
How would I ever earn those last few credit hours?

But then that teacher, I’ll confess,
She fin’lly noticed my distress,
And maybe realized our goals were ’bout the same.
She gave me points for simple rhymes,
And points for showin’ up on time,
And extra credit just for writin’ down my name.

I’d say it felt a little awkward,
Makin’ A’s for washin’ chalkboard,
Takin’ tests with open books in front of me.
That teacher tried to find a way
To keep me focused on that day
Of graduation I was fin’lly gonna see.

Now I was class of ’62!
And I was celebratin’, too;
You see, I’d earned me that diploma, more or less.
And since there were no babies born
Back there in birth year ’44,
’Twas I who gave… the Valedictory Address!

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010
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