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Things I wish we knew in 1966
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1966 was a transformational year for me. That was the year I began the first grade and came face to face with the professional education system that was charged with molding me into a fine young man of the future. Sure, I went to kindergarten in 1965, but that was mostly about coloring, napping and eating cookies — still the best vision of Heaven I’ve ever seen. But, first grade was different; that was the real deal when we started a twelve year forced march to adulthood. I sure wish I could go back to 1966 and offer some advice from all I’ve seen since.

I’d tell anyone who would listen that what you do in school is just a small part of an education. A real education comes from being stretched and broken and repaired. I’d say, "Do your best in school, but success on tests and pop quizzes is just a tiny part of living a full life." I’d also say, "Keep things in perspective." Of course, I’d have to define "perspective" for all those first-graders. Then, I’d probably say, "Just stay focused on the big picture and you’ll be fine." I’d really hate myself for introducing the phrase "the big picture" to a bunch of innocent first-graders, but those are the risks you take if you’re brazen enough to travel back to 1966 to offer advice to children.

I suppose the last bit of wisdom I’d give would be to love your friends and even your enemies. "Some of these people will grow old with you. Others will only be around a few more years. Show them all that they have value to you and to God. Everyone needs to hear that message." Yeah. That’s pretty much all I’d need to say... Well, maybe I’d slip this last one in, just for my own protection. "Boys, whatever you do, don’t let anyone convince you to own something called a ‘powder-blue leisure suit.’ I can’t say anything else about it, but just remember that name: leisure suit." In 1966, the leisure suit was an atrocity just waiting to destroy lives, but I wouldn’t dare go into detail about it with impressionable children. There are some things that should remain a secret for as long as possible, and clothing made from itchy double-knit polyester tops the list.


David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers and can be reached at