I came home last week to find a large box of Castro Valley memorabilia waiting on my porch.
It was a donation from Bob and Teri Forsher, they were clearing out a house and stumbled across the items. Rather than throw them away, Teri, contacted me. Of course I’ll take them, one step closer to achieving my terrifying dream of someday appearing on Hoarders. I carried the box inside and laid out the loot on my dining room table.
I have been collecting pieces of Castro Valley history for awhile, and I always get the anticipatory shiver, like I’m opening a time capsule. It’s like being an archaeologist; Indiana Jones without the Nazi’s, giant boulders, and chilled monkey brains.
I would like to say for dramatic effect that the memorabilia was packed in a sarcophagus or a pasteboard suitcase, but alas, just a plain cardboard box. At least the box had the smell.
You know, the smell of musty paper and lost memories.
Inside were several yearbooks from the early sixties, a few old newspapers, a box of LP’s (remember, music before it was digital, CD, tape, or 8-track), and what appears to be a bowling bag — green and white emblazoned with the CVHS logo.
Yearbooks are a funny thing. They are designed to capture a school year; to trigger and preserve memories. But if you weren’t at the school those specific memories can’t be triggered.
All school years pretty much have the same beats and rhythms. Looking at an old yearbook is like listening to your favorite song, only now it’s being performed by a polka band. It sounds kind of the same, but it’s just not.
The memories triggered by looking at yearbooks you don’t appear in are analogous, but not exact. I don’t know what it is about looking at people who were alive before I was semen, but I love the old yearbooks. I love the eager faces, the square teachers, the utter familiarity and complete difference from my own high school experience.
This is what immediately struck me about the yearbooks. Castro Valley High was white. White like a blizzard of Caucasians. Perhaps it is the almost-blanched appearance of the students that made the things I found objectionable, such as the rally theme of The Sophomore Chinaman, even more stark and uncomfortable.
Secondly, CVHS was thin. There is probably a graduate student somewhere that could compare modern yearbooks with old yearbooks, trying to determine the BMI of student bodies over the years, but that grad student is smarter than me. I just unscientifically know kids are fatter now than they were then.
The final thing that hit me about the yearbooks happened when I was showing them to a friend. She pointed out a boy (thin and white, go figure), and identified him as her uncle. She then said she never met him because he died in 1968 — Viet Nam. I’m looking at pages and pages of young, vibrant, hopeful faces and some of them are simply no longer with us.
The record albums are amazing, an entire box of albums, at least ten, all the same. I can only imagine what it was like when a kid brings home a box of candy bars to sell and rather than dealing with the hassle of actually selling the candy, the parents just buy the whole box. But in this case there is no chocolaty goodness to snack on over the coming months, just old voices preserved on vinyl.
I’m trying to figure out a way to download the album so you can all listen to the Christmas Assembly from 1963 or the CVHS Dance Band perform “Walk on the Wild Side.” I just need to work out all the kinks and make sure the Internet doesn’t mistake me for a Napster pinata.
What am I going to do with all this stuff? I will mine it, using pictures and memories on the Facebook site, sharing it with all of you. Hopefully rekindling old memories, sparking new ones. Some of it will go into my collection of CV historical items, some I will donate to the . Some of the items, like the records, will probably become prizes in CVLegends contests.
The items will get a second life, like John Travolta’s film career after Pulp Fiction. If you have articles of CV history that you believe should be shared, I would be happy to be the Indiana Jones to your metaphorical Sivalinga stones.
As always, please feel free to join the Castro Valley discussion at www.facebook.com/CVLegends.