Yearbooks great fun in the moment, decades later


Last updated 5/17/2023 at 3:51pm | View PDF

Today, May 18, in the commons at Hinsdale Central, the yearbook is coming. The 80th edition, to be precise, of El Diablo.

I learned this from a very dramatic video, presumably made for Tik Tok and then re-posted on Facebook with the hope that Central parents and teachers (i.e. people too old for Tik Tok) would see it.

Although we did not have Tik Tok when I was in high school (phones were still mounted on the wall and you could only walk as far as the cord attached to the receiver allowed), we did have yearbooks. And while I did not write for my high school newspaper, I was on the staff of The Panther's Tale at James Hart Junior High School in 1980 and the student life editor of my high school yearbook, REmember 1984. (I realize I am further dating myself here.)

I have to admit I wasn't entirely sure I worked on the junior high yearbook until I looked at the staff photo on Page 30 and there I was! Along with this inscription from someone named Alona below:

"Pam, You didn't do that bad on this year's yearbook."

Wow. I guess I learned early that you need to have a thick skin to work in publishing.

I found Alona's picture and actually have a faint recollection of her. Other classmates I recognized instantly. Bridget Chmielewski. Wendi Heinz. Beth Kilton. Tori Munson. Keri Peterson. Donna Woods. Kids I really liked but haven't thought about in more than 40 years.

I have more memories of working on REmember 1984, although I had forgotten our yearbook was called The Lagoon and our slightly creepy subhead: The Lagoon was Watching You.

Our theme was a mishmosh of ideas, the capital "RE" of "REmember" standing for Rich East, with 1984 and the subhead referring to our graduation year and George Orwell's dystopian novel, through which we learned to fear Big Brother. Why we wanted to commemorate this, I can't recall. Of course, the finished product has nothing to do with totalitarian regimes.

My clearest memories involve typing out captions on an actual typewriter in columns that had to be 33 characters wide - even if that meant hitting return in the middle of a word. I think we might even have used carbon paper! We cropped our photos using a contraption that looks just like the icon on Photoshop and a grease pencil. We also took photos with a real camera and not an iPhone 14.

Although our procedure seems rather crude today, we created a book that looks similar to modern-day yearbooks, with pages of photos of teenagers doing typical teenage stuff - attending homecoming and prom, competing on sports teams, starring in the school musical, hanging out in the hallway.

Because many of my good friends were on the yearbook staff, there's lots of great candids of us in the book. And I love the caption under one of the photos on our club page: "Deadline ... what deadline." So many valuable lessons I learned early.

I'm surprised at how much fun I had looking through my yearbooks. So many memories came flooding back - from the perm I got senior year (mistake!) to the "holiday bush" we kept in the yearbook office all year long to Dr. Babbit, my overqualified Spanish teacher.

At the time we worked on The Lagoon, our intent was to document all the fun and important things we did our senior year. Little did I know that one day it would prompt such an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean


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