Central High School was Aberdeen’s only public high school. The school was a series of four connected buildings that sprawled a city block. I was intimidated by its size when I first came and I was overwhelmed with the number of students. The halls were crowded and finding classrooms in the expanse of buildings was challenging.
The national social change in the mid sixties that had started to sweep the country even found its way Northeastern South Dakota in a diluted form. The high school administration started to worry, or should I say worried more. Girls skirts could not be too short and they were marched to the office and a ruler applied to check for violations. Boys hair could not be too long and Beatle bangs had to be a regulation distance from the eyes.
Then there were the gangs. Well, pretty pathetic excuses for gangs, more groups of friends wishing to distinguish themselves from others and they did so by jackets. The jocks wore their letterman jackets. The Cranberries wore their letterman style maroon with black leather sleeve jackets, the Brownies (now there is a terrifying name for a gang) wore brown jackets in the same style, the Spiders wore gray jackets in that style (they were the bad boys). Then there was my group, the Herd as we called ourselves; the rest of the school called us nothing. We wore no jackets as we thought they were all stupid. Some of us wore clothes and coats from the Salvation Army Shop, some of us dyed our white Converse tennis shoes bright colors, some of us drove old Volkswagen bugs to spit in the eye of popular muscle cars of the time. Yes, I was one who did it all. Some of us were counterculture without the foggiest notion of what that was. The Herd consisted of my friends from junior high, a couple west hill kids, and a few from the new fusion of people in the big school. We were a “gang” without a cause.
The Herd, acrylic on shuen paper, 12″x9″, Mark W McGinnis