Carnes: 40th high school reunion marks another milestone, with a twist (column) |

Carnes: 40th high school reunion marks another milestone, with a twist (column)

In 1977, France performed an execution using a guillotine for the last time; now we have President Donald Trump attempting to cut the head off Obamacare.

America returned the canal to Panama at that point, and now we have a president vowing to return our nation to the Dark Ages, apparently unaware the period did not earn its nickname due to a lack of sunlight.

That same year we had the most ineffective Democrat in modern history to ever occupy the White House; now we have the most ineffective Republican.

Yep, 40 years ago we had the first “Rocky” and “Star Wars” movies, Elvis died, Seattle Slew took the Triple Crown, the Eagles released “Hotel California,” groundbreaking began at Beaver Creek and Vail lift ticket prices were still less than $20 a day.

And 17-year-old me graduated high school down in Texas.

Returning for my 40th reunion last week was a predictably bittersweet trip down memory lane, but sadly the comparisons to today’s world dominated the discussions.

I had this grandiose plan to spend four days and three nights reminiscing with old buddies, trying to remember the details of all the stupid crap we got away with and our constant amazement that we are still alive to tell the tales.

While some of that did indeed thankfully occur, the topic of most conversations ultimately led in the direction of our current state of affairs, meaning America and the truly bizarre and unprecedented situation we are in, thanks in part to the insecure narcissist we somehow elected last year.

While that in and of itself might not sound surprising, understand that this comes from a group of cowboys, farmers, ranchers and the like from a small town south of Dallas.

I mean, these are tobacco-chewing, cattle-working, beer-drinking, Jesus-loving, dyed-in-the-wool Republican Trump fans, or at least used to be, and most of them were discussing “how in the hell to control the crazy nut in the White House” before something disastrous occurs.

Seriously, these are lifelong friends with real names such as Billy Joe and Bobby Dale, and I absolutely guarantee that a few of them, if I could ever get them up here, would wear a cowboy hat and jeans while skiing, and Trump is now scaring the hide off their boots.

Someone even brought up that “MASH” was a popular TV show back in 1977, and now, thanks to two volatile children masquerading as national leaders, they fear we’re being set up for “MASH: The Sequel.”

I was truly shocked.

When Trump was not the subject, or when we reached the point where everyone was in obvious agreement so why keep talking about it, the topic then turned — naturally — to asking me a question most of you in Happy Valley have heard more than a few times.

“What’s it like having legal marijuana up there in Colorado?”

The same people who taught me (I had moved from the “Big City”) words like “fixin’” (“I’m fixin’ to head in to town”), while I convinced them to order a “Coke” instead of a “soda water,” were obsessed with the details of legalized weed.

In spite of the fact that we were all 40 years older (and some of us looked it much more than others), I was amazed at how much had changed yet stayed the exact same, only their minds were much more open to a changing world than I ever imagined or remembered.

There is still hope for America after all.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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