Remembering June 16, 1960 

By Wayne Overbeck
(written in March, 2000)

   Several years ago a Class of 1960 newsletter said I had the "master audio tape... made by Voice of Mira Costa (VOMC) of our graduation." 
    That isn't quite what I had:  it was a tape that my father made on an ancient monaural recorder.  It was definitely not a "master" tape.  However, I received some calls about the tape, and I told several people I'd try to find the tape and make copies.
    When I found the tape, I couldn't play it on any modern recorder.  The only hope was to find the recorder on which the tape was made--and get it running again after all these years.  Miraculously, the old recorder (an early-50s model "Revere") was buried in a closet, and it worked--sort of.  When I first tried to play the tape, Janice Scott (our valedictorian) sounded like Paul Robeson and Lloyd Waller (our principal) sounded like one of the Chipmunks. 
    After some cleaning, lubrication and tube replacements (remember vacuum tubes--those glass things with an orange glow?), the Revere made voices sound about right.  Then I discovered that the tape had enough gaps to make the Watergate tapes seem complete.  But at least I could listen to the tape for the first time in about 30 years, and it brought back a lot of memories.
    Several of the graduation speeches were incomplete.  The beginning of Vince Thomas' class greeting and Stan Yetter's speech were both missing.  And the conclusion of Don Roland's speech was gone.  On the other hand, the reading of the 400-plus names seemed to be intact, interrupted only by airplanes flying over Mustang Stadium.  The introductions of award winners and California Scholarship Federation Sealbearers were also intact on the tape. 
    As I listened to this graduation tape again, I felt like a time traveler.  Many of us are AARP members now, either retired or planning retirement.  We're eligible for senior discounts at movies and restaurants.  But here were our voices, speaking with the enthusiasm of youth.  We weren't old enough to vote or drink legally.  Some of us had grandparents about as old as we are now. 
    In her valedictory address, Janice Scott spoke about civic responsibility and good government. It seemed almost as if she knew Watergate and other government scandals were going to happen.
    Our other speakers gave forward-looking speeches, too.  The late George Fraga delivered an appeal for unity and brotherhood through education, expressing ideas that were ahead of their time then--but came to dominate the national agenda a few years later.  Stan Yetter spoke of specialization, predicting both the benefits and costs that we now associate with specialization.  Don Roland called for ethical living through education and left me wondering what the world would be like today if we had all taken his advice seriously--and practiced it. 
    In many ways, listening to the graduation tape reminded me how much America has changed since 1960.  The graduation speakers routinely used male nouns and pronouns to describe all of humanity.  There was a lot of talk about "the educated man," as if there weren't any educated women.  Also, the ceremony began and ended with decidedly Protestant Christian prayers, something that would be unconstitutional today because of post-1960 Supreme Court decisions. 
    Another thing I noticed more than ever before was the Asian and Hispanic names in our class.  In those days, it seemed as if everyone was assimilating into the cultural mainstream.  Our idea of cultural diversity was having some "ho-dads" as well as "surfers" around.  Ethnic gangs and graffiti were something we saw in "West Side Story," not realities in our daily lives.  Was it easier to accept people as individuals then, or am I lost in some of Barbra's "misty water-color memories of the way we were?" 
    As I listened to the tape, I also noticed how quiet and respectful we, our friends and families all were.  The decorum of the ceremony was disturbed only rarely by noise in the stands. Graduation ceremonies today are often raucous affairs with constant interruptions.  Now administrators go to great lengths in an often-futile attempt to keep things orderly. 
    Finally, as I listened to the 400 names, I wondered what became of everyone.  Perhaps as we approach the 40th anniversary of our graduation this website will help us rediscover each other--and learn more about the way we are as well as the way we were. 

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