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45 Years Later

By Joe Starkey



It doesn’t seem like it was 45 years ago that I graduated from University Prep High School in Laramie, Wyoming. But that is what the invitation read. So I made reservations, invited the wife and daughter to go, found they had other plans, and decided to go by myself. After all it’s barely 900 miles from Abilene, Texas to Laramie, Wyoming. Back in 1965, I often made a trip like that in one day. This year, it took two hard days and I couldn’t even break 90 on the University of Wyoming golf course where I used to play in the high 70’s. Wyoming is definitely not Texas. My first winter there saw -50 degrees Celsius mercury, not wind chill, as the high for almost two weeks in January and it never got over 85 in the four years I was there.{{more}}Turned out that the invitation had been sent by the Class of 70 and only 6 of the 42 in my graduating class were in town. We did have a good enough time for the whole 42. It was Jubilee Days which are the fair and rodeo that Laramie puts on each summer and 10 separate classes of Laramie High School and University Prep were reunioning. Lots of memories and remember when Blank did ‘?’ It did seem a lot calmer then it was 45 years ago. Back then, by about 7 or 8 PM you could walk from one side of the street to the other and never touch the pavement. You did this simply by walking on discarded beer cans and not being particularly careful where you put your feet as the whole street was full of empty cans. The downtown area has a two block long by two block wide area blocked off for the street fair and dance. I didn’t even see a fight this year and it used to be a competition between the bars as to which was toughest so they would send their fighters out into the street to challenge all comers. The music at the dance may have actually even been better. My ears claimed Lady Flame Juggler. Photo by Joe Starkeyit was much less loud. I could hear people talk within a block of the band. I really enjoyed some flame jugglers that put on a show Friday night. They were simply amazing as they dipped cloth balls on the end of 4 foot long chains and the cloth balls were lit and spun in circles all around themselves and between their legs and around their heads and let the chains wind the fire closer and closer and then back away from their hands. I particularly liked their tip box with a sign reading “All funds collected will be spent for licentious and debauched behavior.”I missed the Friday night rodeo and the bucking horse that went over the five foot high fence into the main stands. The Saturday rodeo was noticeable for the lack of small children lining the fence even though no one was injured on Friday. As I said before, this year seemed much more calm and less rugged than our visit back in 2000. It’s great to see the big name cowboys still out trying to make the points for the Nationals. Laramie gets more than its share of big names due both to the timing of the rodeo and the local airport. They can also ship in horses and other gear for several rodeos occurring in Wyoming that include Jubilee Days and the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

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