To the grads of 2018, hello from the class of 1959!
We have a lot in common, having spent our early years in Summerland. But we grew up in quite a different world.
Our parents had survived the Great Depression only to be faced with WWII when not much older than yourselves. They joined the armed forces, fought on the seas or overseas, or served on the home front.
Sadly, some of our friends’ parents were uprooted and relocated away from the Coast because they were deemed potential enemies.
Others arrived with their children as refugees from war-torn Europe. We are the “war babies.”
As children, life in Summerland was pretty free and easy. We didn’t know much about rationing, we vaguely remember the arrival of margarine.
We hunted deer with our fathers, helped with family gardens, feeding the chickens or picking wild asparagus and fruit all for the purpose of putting three square meals on the table each day, including winter.
We wore hand-me-downs, no shoes in summer, spent much time on our bikes to get around.
We learned to skate on Charlie Wharton’s rink or one of the ponds such as James Lake below the Box Factory.
We learned to swim at Powell Beach — Sunday afternoons were family times at the beach.
Mostly we just made our own fun, there was no television — and certainly no Internet or social media!
Our schooling began in 1947. We started from scratch learning to read and write, printing neatly before we were allowed to use pen and ink —no such thing as ball-point pens, we dipped our pens in an inkwell in the corner of our desk.
We had wonderful, loving teachers — stern and insistent, but determined to give us the basic tools we needed for our future lives.
And then it was on to SHS as we knew it. We had our favourite subjects, our favourite teachers. Various sports, Student Council, Key Club, Band, Scouts and Guides, Youth Groups and Teen Town helped shape our future lives. We had our favourite NHL team, a grand total of six to choose from, and followed our team through Hockey Night in Canada with Foster Hewitt on radio … still no TV!
And then suddenly it was graduation day. With no post-secondary education available nearby, some of us headed off to UBC, UVic or other institutions to become nurses, engineers, teachers or other professions.
Others took to business, orchardists and trades. We married and had families.
With strong bonds formed during our school years we managed to keep in touch, often through newsy Christmas cards exchanged amongst our parents.
We had our 25th and 50th graduation anniversaries and next year will be our 60th. Hard to imagine. We’ve had our cataracts remove, hips and knees replaced, suffered other ailments of aging.
But our spirit of love and friendship for each other has bound us together over all these years.
And that is the message I would like to leave with you, the grads of 2018.
You have all the material wealth you need at hand, you have the miracles of the Internet and a future of further technological advances.
But we are a social animal. We need others to survive.
So spend time nurturing your relationships, love your friends and families, reach out to others who need a friend. Volunteer your talents for the benefit of others. Make the life of someone regardless of their religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation just a little better and a whole lot happier.
God speed and live your lives well and happily.
Ted Hannah graduated from high school in Summerland in 1959.