Thursday, July 10, 2014

CERES: The Goddess Rests With Me

During my first summer here, after lugging every bit of my earthly goods to the shed, I began to sift through a half-lifetime of souvenirs. Opening one cardboard box after another, I came upon a metal street sign, clearly stolen by someone, somewhere, long ago. I knew immediately the sign would hold a place of prominence here on the farm, the irony being too rich to ignore.

In the early 80s at Lakewood High School, I was a member of the sorority, CERES. We were a 'service club' meaning we were supposed to raise funds for those less fortunate than... no, wait, we just raised money for parties, for ourselves. Parties in Big Bear (winter), parties in Newport Beach (summer), parties in Palm Springs (spring)...just parties. We held car washes and bake sales, whatever we could do to keep our dance cards full. The rush period was horrific - entire scenes from "Mean Girls" and "Heathers" verbatim - and I'm certain I was grudgingly admitted based solely on the high desirability of my older brother, Rob, commonly known as "Hot Rob."

Shed living room
Once in, I learned many of the club's traditions - the CERES song ("We are the Ceres girls, red lips and bouncy curls..."), the colors (dark blue and light blue) and by god, we even had our own car honk (long-short-long) which came in handy when convoying to the next party. There were no other sororities at the school and I had never heard of any sorority in a high school, not then and not ever. Other than laughter, silliness and branded souvenirs (t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, jewelry, etc.), the club had no real point and I had only the vaguest idea about the club's name. It just never came up.

Fast forward 30+ years and I am standing in a North Dakota shed, my 46-year-old hands hold a sign reading CERES AVE. Only then, do I remember the uncanny significance in my present life: Ceres is the Goddess of Agriculture! (Technically, the Roman name for the Greek goddess, Demeter.) What are the odds?

Early in the 1970s, this sign was acquired by the club and a tradition was born. Starting with Judy Centers in 1971, a passing-the-torch concept continued for 13 years ... until it got to me. At the annual beach house - a tradition planned by all the sophomores and juniors as a 'send-off' to the seniors - a senior girl would select a junior girl (can't recall the criteria), paint her name and graduating year on the back of the Ceres Ave. sign and present it to her in some drawn out ceremony of sisterly love. In the summer of 1983, a lovely girl, Crystal Eble, choose me and I was honored.

A year later, I prepared to select a name and present the sign and was informed that there would be no beach house that year; the young 'uns simply didn't have their act together and the tradition was broken. And so, the Ceres Ave. sign remained with me. Occasionally, I felt some guilt over my possession but I also took great care to display the momento wherever I hung my hat.

In the end, I cannot imagine a more suitable resting place for the Goddess of Agriculture to rest than with a Ceres girl who became a farmer.

And also, I tip my hat to the women whose names now live in my shed:
  • Judy Centers - 1971
  • Laurie Crawford - 1972
  • Teesa Alorn - 1973
  • Diane Hess - 1974
  • Karen Judd - 1975
  • Bonnie Britton - 1976
  • Jeri Helwig - 1977
  • Patty McGarry - 1978
  • Karen Lee - 1978
  • Linda Walton - 1979
  • Tracy Billingsly - 1980
  • Susan Rainey - 1981 (Hot Rob's prom date)
  • Michael Ann Arce - 1982
  • Crystal Eble - 1983
I'll take good care of it, ladies.  HOOOOONK-honk-HOOOONK!


Andrea Anton said...

I love that Ceres is the Goddess of Agriculture. Like it was your destiny to be exactly where you are. I got goosebumps when I read that! Your high school-and-beyond tradition sounds great. Your shed living room is so freakin cool! I wish I were there now with some cold ones!

Heather Clisby said...

I know, right? Funny how fate will wrangle us to the ground when we're not looking.

As for the living room, I would KILL for some simpatico company up here, girl. I swear, I fantasize about a Big Ass Party there all the time.


Someday, my friend.

Syd said...

I loved this!! And you!

quirkychick said...

Oh my gosh - you just trigged some memories - amazing considering how much alcohol was involved.

I was in Parcae over at Millikan in 1975. It had never occurred to me to look it up, but apparently the Parcae were the female personifications of Destiny AKA the Fates.

Lofty imagery for a group of girls who would break into song, "Beer, beer for good old Parcae, break out the whiskey guzzle away (to the tune of the Notre Dave victory song) well you get the picture, as we sat in line at Naugles at 1am.

Apparently "welfare clubs" were in place at Millikan as early as 1960 and they all had names that were historical/mythological in originan - socii, sabri, anu, zeus (pronounced zeee-us).

Maybe they performed acts of welfare back in the day, but
we would have "joints" with boys clubs from Lakewood or Wilson which were basically 60 high school kids sucking down a keg, we'd do the annual mountain trip, all with no more adult supervision than the 18 year olds in the club.

Clearly my parents had no idea what was going on which is a good thing. I can't imagine any of my friends letting their kids do that.

All of that said - I love the symmetry of a Ceres girl from Lakewood H.S. - finding herself farming in NoDak communing with the Goddess of Agriculture.

And I bet you can out drink most of the farmers up there.


Heather Clisby said...

Ah, yes, now I recall 'other' clubs from rival high schools. Funny how my brain just edited to save space.

Lots and lots of alcohol, and boys and "joints" - so funny.