We have all marched the Pomp and Circumstances trail
Tassels now turned, we all knew we would not fail
Each class knows that it alone is unique
Fame and fortune waiting for it to seek.
But in one year the sands were shifting in a flooding tide
Taking all of us for at least a wild decade ride.
We arrived in the fall of 1965
Eager and anxious to at Stanford thrive
I loaded with a purse seine check dollars ahead of tuition at $1575
Without fear, ready to become the next great Hewlett Packard engineer
Not knowing that Engineering 9 and France would me away from a slide rule steer
Off to France a Tours, le jardin de la France in France XIII
6 months without Indian football, baseball or the KA party scene
A Viking from Coeur d’ Alene symbolic of Viking ships of old that battled only currents and unknown fears
Sheltered by compass, sail, oars, strong arms, axes, swords and spears.
This later Viking of 65 faced a chasm cultural shift,
All icons parted and were now in constant swirling drift.
Constant in Alaska only to set the salmon net, haul in the halibut hook, fell the tree
Lower down, all was moving, compass shorn, tidal waves from an Asian sea.
Radar blips most likely false on a ship of Joy
Soon a generation offered to Mars to maim and destroy
Be you of the class of 65 or 70 when the end was almost near,
Our time at Stanford was a far different chaotic set of years
The jungle claimed our bodies, the music changed our souls
The pill released us, but the highs took their toll
A tough time for a nation, a tougher time for its youth
Where in shifting sands would one ever find the truth?
Lower away the cities burned, shots heard, flags stomped to the ground
A nation for many years torn apart, in chaos always unbound
At first Stanford was an island of stability in a sea of storms
Later sit ins in Sterling’s office burning of Naval ROTC became the norm
Support for a war that we never should have been in slowly began to fade
Respect for the icons of authority began to degrade
We were the chosen few unlikely to the jungles to be sent to die or in the humidity wilt
As we look back at the high school dropouts a profound sense of guilt
50 years later we have come to grip with the past and have in most cases thrived
Some with legacies off to Stanford, careers in law, business, politics, a sense of social good to have arrived
The Winds of Freedom still blow, our minds still learning and questioning set free
The journey of improvement beyond the Farm is a never ending spree
For some so lucky the warm summer rays are just now beginning to fade
For others, the leaves are now turning color to fall, never to shade
Lastly, some of us feel in our bodies the first hint of snow;
Fire waiting as we now reflect on what we did sow
But common to all as we move upon this life’s journey trail
Heads high, toasts through the mist, hail Stanford hail, hail Stanford hail.
© June 24, 2010 Michael P. Ridley