Google Images: Micheal S. Smith Photography, Seneca Vocational H.S.
I was sixteen years old in 1997, music was life back then for me, and in that year I needed it more then ever, My freshmen year of high school was 1996 - 1997 and during that school year I was at a school I did not want to be at. In the city of Buffalo at that time, during 8th grade year students had to pick the top choices of the high school they wanted to go to. It was all based on grades during 7th grade year and first grade quarter of 8th grade.
Math was my weakest subject, and the schools that I chose at the time a student had to excel well in the area of math. And me not being on my A game it caused me to loose out on all of my choices of the schools I wanted to attend. So in fall of 1996 I was at my district school. While all my Jr. high friends was at the school of their choices living the high life.
I had to make a daily trip to south Buffalo, a place I did not want to be, what kept me calm to and from school that year was the music. I've always had my trusty black Sony Walkman. The cassettes on deck was, SWV "New Beginning" Mista self titled album, Tupac "Makaveli" I would put on my head phones and be In the zone.
1997 winter time rolled around by February of that year, I received the best news in my life at the time. For the 1997 - 1998 school year I was finally accepted into the school I wanted to be at. Sophomore year was a new school, a new start and a new way life was on the way. A girl had something to look forward to in the fall of 97.
Summer 1997 came around it was a typical summer for a sixteen year old me, had a successful freshman year. Life was good for the time being, but it wasn't good for everyone in my life. My father health was on serious decline and it has been since 1992. Late summer 1997 My father spent his last days in the hospital.
In my mind at giving his prior hospital stints, I assumed he would come home, so I didn't go see him. It was my choice if I wanted to see him or not. So I carried on my summer as sixteen year old would, worrying about the school clothes and making my local trips to the record store.
Late summer 1997, that sony Walkman of mines was getting it far share of use, by then I had added more to the collection. Don't Judge me, but I was playing the hell out Ray J debut "Everything You Want" & Immature "The Journey" and the latter would play an essential role in my life. Immature the Journey album was released after lead singer Marques "Batman" Houston mother passed away. During the making of this album and the somber sound could be heard through out the project.
At that point my father was still in the hospital, from the reports of his health, it seemed he would be coming home. As time moved on, the school year was fast approaching. So I had to get myself together since I was entering a new school. I was excited and nervous at the same time.. My siblings was entering their senior year of high school as well at the new school I was attending.
So being the youngest sibling that was kind of intimidating, well at least for me it was during that time period. In school years past school always started two days after labor day on a Wednesday. But that year we was giving an extra week. That was the best beginning of a school year in a the history of Tashema S. Oates.
September 10th 1997, I was beginning my school year at Seneca Vocational High School as a Sophomore. It rained on first day of school, that day I walked to school with my sister and as I entered the school. I looked around I said to myself this is where I wanted to be. They had all students file into the auditorium. It was where we would get all our home room assignments.
Well since my old school forgot to send over my transcripts, I spent the first half of my day in the auditorium. My first impression of the new school was not the best, but had to remind myself the next day would better, well so I thought.
Eventually I made it to the second half of my day I ended up going to the rest of my classes. Saw a few faces I knew and like the classes I had. So the day ended, with me going home, walking with my sister and the trek home from school was not a short one. The school said we lived too close to use the bus system. Whatever! we made it home and sat on the porch, my grandfather came to the door and asked us how school was.
We told him how it was, and then he paused took a deep sigh and said you're father passed away, and it hit like a ton of bricks. He said was going to pick up our mother from work so she could be with us. I was frozen and did not know what to say or to do so I went upstairs to collect my thoughts and my sister went downstairs.
My grandfather went to go get my mother from work, as I am upstairs pacing back and forth trying to understand that my father was gone. I had to wrap my mind around the fact that I didn't see him when he was in the hospital and never was going to see him again. It was so much to consume at that moment. Me and my siblings had a very complex relationship with our father, but in that moment I wish I could have said goodbye one last time.
So yes on my first day of 10th grade I spent half day waiting on my schedule to go to class. I walked home in the rain, and my father died in the hospital all on the first day of school, a heartbreaking day for this sixteen year old girl. My father funeral was a week or so later, he was buried before his 36th birthday. Music was still the friend that provided me comfort when I needed it
In 1997 Mariah Carey released her fifth album "Butterfly" and if anyone who truly knows me knows that Mariah is one of my favorite artist and her album actually served as the soundtrack to finish out the rest of my fall semester at Seneca.
Christmas 1997, I moved up from cassettes to CD's, an awesome way to end out what ended up being a very trying year...........
R.I.P Dwayne Oates 1961 - 1997, love always your daughter: Tashema Shanae Oates