Monday, October 6, 2008

The Death of the Yearbook

The Charleston Post and Courier reported today that the “College of Charleston closed the door on its yearbook, The Comet, this past spring because of waning interest from students” replaced by the immediateness of MySpace and Facebook.

And so with the announcement of the passing of the College of Charleston’s yearbook preceded in death by the University of South Carolina’s yearbook, it is fitting that I mourn the death of the printed yearbook.

I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph….

And with those words my high school year book took shape. The final cut on the Beatles 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” became the standard by which a vast collection of color photographs were laid out and arranged over the course of many weeks in the early spring of 1972.


The class of 72 yearbook would shock the faculty and stand the year book printing company on their collective heads.

Every year since time began the 2000 or so copies of the stolid black and gold embossed yearbooks called the “Talon” (the school mascot was a falcon) were shipped to my high school. All of the photos in the year book were black and white with color reserved only for the senior portraits. Portraits, that were more like mug shots. I knew these people and they all, well most of them, were more fun than that!

But in 1972 the world was different, color was everywhere and thanks to John Lennon it would be the year that shook the establishment to its foundation. The Talon became the “Yellow Submarine” because the 1972 yearbook was Yellow. Bright in your face yellow, with color on every page except the sponsor ad pages in the back.

A decade ago the death of the hand written letter was noted. The telegraph died only a few years ago, the text message of its day was all the rage in 1942. The yearbook is not just a message, its a narration of small events that changed our lives, depicted in yearbooks, to turn the pages is to touch each life in a small way.

I understand the embrace of technology, but to abandon the yearbook all together is fundamentally wrong. Facebook and MySpace are hardly permanent reminders of that temporary feeling known as college or high school. The past is hard enough to remember let alone keep in chronological order.

The following year the “Talon” would return to its more formal design, due mostly to parental outrage. That one year stands out amongst the year books on my shelf, surrounded by dull grey, deep dark red and three years of the Talon in gloss black.

The class of 1972 still rocks!


Anonymous said...

I wish I had ordered a copy of my HS year book for my senior year - didn’t seem important at the time, but would have been useful later in looking up old friends and class mates. (Moultrie HS, class 1959). I think it only works when schools are small and most everyone knows each other.

Anonymous said...

I just read this and have to say OMG you are so right.

Anonymous said...

I just read this and have to say OMG you are so right.