SO HERE WE ARE after all these years—more than fifty—gathered together for the second time since we graduated from the private all-girls school in Louisville, Kentucky—before the Civil Rights Movement, before the Women’s Movement, before Vietnam and all the wars that have followed it.
Of the fourteen that graduated together, several had been at the school since third grade. Now, two have died, one is ill, and two others couldn’t come for various reasons, but the nine who congregated on a beautiful spring day in Kentucky found, at once, that we were still connected, viscerally, not only by our memories of the amazing teachers who led us on to college, the games we played, the mischief we enjoyed—but by the amazing women we have become.
That school was the precious beginning, perhaps not appreciated at the time, ,that launched us into independent lives as teachers, community volunteers, wives and mothers. We found our footing, perilous at times, in a world that was changing so rapidly even daughters of comfortable southern homes would be deeply affected. None of us now could sing the hymn that was part of our graduation ceremony, based on a Kipling poem that includes the line “lesser breeds without the law”. Nor can we easily recall the Latin we learned, or the Latin we sung with its line that seems more appropriate now than it was when we were eighteen:
“Let us rejoice in our youth now that we are young. After youth comes troubling age, and in the end the dust will have us…” (A free translation)
Raised on precepts that sprang from the 19th century—honor, obedience, thrift, hard work—we have found various ways to root that faith in the fertile ground of our changing lives in the 21st century.