We really had a hot time in the old hometown

Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

The raison d’être for our trip out east last month was a niece’s high school graduation – the last in that generation of Feldner family cousins.

By the way, that attempt to class up this column with that little French phrase in the first paragraph was for another niece who is a high school French teacher – and other than French fries, French vanilla ice cream and French toast, it’s about the only French I know.

Actually, we thought we were finished with high school graduations about seven years ago until a “new” niece entered the picture.

The graduation was for my sister-in-law Nyida’s niece, Kathryn.

Kathryn’s mom – Nydia’s sister – passed away about six years ago and Kathryn went to live with Nydia and my brother Marty.

Which was quite interesting, since they were both at or near age 60 at the time and had never had any children of their own – then they got a full-blown teenager.

But somehow they all survived it – which goes to show you can teach an old dog a new trick or two.

The graduation was set for late Saturday morning and we arrived in Warwick Thursday evening – which meant we were in time to help set up for the party at Marty and Nydia’s Friday.

Actually, it was my brother Jim and I who got drafted to help move tables, chairs, benches and the like.

Fortunately, they had rented a tent for the party and it came with professionals who set it all up, but we were left to the rest of it.

We even had to move the bar out onto the deck, but we didn’t get to sample any of what we were moving – although we certainly could have used it by that point.

Instead, we had to go to a local watering hole that evening with Jim and Mary and buy our own drinks.

Maybe it was the quality of help we provided – we got paid what we were worth?

Saturday dawned bright and hot, of course, since the graduation ceremony was outdoors on the high school football field.

There were some seats in the shade under tents, but those were for immediate family of the graduates, so other than Marty and Nydia the rest of us got stuck on the football bleacher under the hot sun.

Now, it has been more than four decades since I graduated from the same high school, but it’s more than just the fuzzy memory that has me saying my graduation was a little more comfortable.

For starters, we graduated on a Friday evening, when the sun was on its way down and things were cooling off, not under the hot midday sun.

Our ceremony had only about half as many graduates as Kathryn’s – the old hometown has grown quite a bit since I left/got run out of town – so it didn’t go on interminably.

All that would have been bad enough, but they seemed to have scheduled everyone who could to speak during the commencement ceremony – the School Board president, the school superintendent, the high school principal, the senior class president, a student speaker and I swear even the assistant custodian and several school bus drivers.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they added an extra speaker – the class vice-president.

Then the principal invited everyone in the audience to send a congratulatory text message to their graduating senior and waited for them to finish texting – and for the seniors to text back.

By this point, several members of the audience were literally melting away and flowing down the stairs of the bleachers.

Those of us in the Feldner party didn’t bother texting any congratulations – we just texted each other that as soon as Kathryn got her diploma, we were going to leave.

We didn’t want to take any chances that they were going to invite several faculty members or random people in the audience to come up and give a speech.

By the time they finally got around to handing out the diplomas, I would have sworn it was already Wednesday and time for us to leave for home.

We were just glad that Kathryn’s last name was Fernandez and not Xavier or Zimmer.

NEXT WEEK: Making the party last all weekend long.

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