A toast to 1968: So different, yet the same

MaryAnne Shults

In September 1968, the first class of students did their inaugural walk across the interim campus of Saddleback College, which at this time was a small group of modular buildings with planks for their sidewalks.

Somewhere on campus, there was a young girl, recently graduated from high school, who tried to fit in with the 4,000 or so other students. After parking her VW Bug, she checked her false eyelashes in the rearview mirror, and then she took a quick glance at her reflection, admiring her white blouse with a frilly lace collar and a short, red-plaid jumper. She checked her hair to make sure she looks just like the model on the cover of the latest Glamour magazine. After class, she calls her boyfriend on her parent’s new touch-tone phone to ask how his first day at Saddleback went. He picks her up in his Pontiac GTO and they head out to the local burger joint for a Double-Double combo at In ‘n Out to compare their experiences at the new local community college.

Forty years later, in September 2008, another young girl starts her first day at Saddleback. However, she finds herself battling for an empty parking space for her mom’s Lexus. She finds a spot in a lot on the opposite side of campus from her first class, and knows she’s going to have to hustle to try to find her classroom in the BGS building. She checks her hair to make sure that it’s hanging properly over one eye, and she touches up her lip gloss and makes sure her expression has the proper balance of surliness and blasé before strolling to class. She’s wearing the T-strap sundress that she found at Forever 21 and her new Rainbow flip-flops that show off her $50 pedicure. When classes are over for the day, she text messages her boyfriend and they agree to meet later at Starbucks for a nonfat soy Chai latte.

Although the decades show the contrast, not much has really changed. Both couples talk about what they will do for the upcoming weekend, the parties they’ll attend, and the latest gossip.

Then they both make a toast to Saddleback College, and to their futures.