Class Reunions

We’re all formed to a certain extent by our pasts. People we knew, events we experienced, things we did and times we lived through. Now and then I like to take a look back into my own past history.

High school class reunions . . .

On a recent Saturday night I attended the fifty-year reunion of my high school class. When I mentioned this earlier in the day to my BFF, who is three decades younger, she couldn’t imagine why I’d want to attend such a thing. She said she’d spent twenty years trying to forget her high school experience.

After a lot of thought about the difference in our attitudes, I decided at least part of it might have to do with the eras in which we grew up. By the time she was born we were well into the era of the mobile society. Families moved every few years, and roots didn’t grow very deep.

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, people tended to stay with one job, and families tended to stay put. We all attended our neighborhood schools rather than whatever school someone decided to bus us to. The roots of many high school friendships went all the way back to kindergarten or before.

Janet and Roger were both in my kindergarten class, and it was good to see both of them. I’d seen Janet recently, since we both served on the committee that put the reunion together, but I hadn’t seen Roger since the last reunion.

Jonathan and Jerry and I were part of a five-man club we formed sitting in ninth grade algebra class. The fourth member moved away before we graduated, and the fifth died a few years ago. All four of them were part of the football team that never lost a game while we were in junior high school. Our coach, Spud Cason, invented the wishbone offense and ran it successfully a full decade before Darrell Royal instituted it at the University of Texas.

The eight-place table where my wife and I sat for dinner included three women I went to school with ever since elementary school and two of their husbands. Strange thing about bonds, I knew both of their husbands independently. Shirley’s husband was in my Boy Scout troop, and Suzy’s husband was in my Optimist club and followed me as president.

Funny how the nature of the reunions changes over the years. At the ten-year, we were sort of like a bunch of dogs sniffing one another, checking to see whose success surprised us, who was making more money than we were and all that sort of thing. That was back during my drinking days, and I was depressed about how I measured up to the others, and I got so drunk I didn’t remember the end of it. I do recall an announcement someone made that John Deutschendorf . . .

. . . had changed his name to Denver and written a song called “Leaving On a Jet Plane” that was very popular at the time.

My experience at that reunion kept me away from the next one ten years later, but by the time of the thirty-year, I was ready to see people again. Although never wealthy, I was comfortable enough by then I didn’t mind being around millionaires I wouldn’t have thought would ever succeed at anything. I was able to relax and enjoy seeing old friends, and although I’d never been a huge John Denver fan, it was nice to see him there.

The forty-year reunion was the first one for which I served on the planning committee. In the process of planning, we decided we wanted someone to portray Elvis as a reminder of the 50s. Since a lot of people thought I looked like him back in my teen years, I volunteered and donned a white Elvis suit, complete with sequins, and sang one of his songs with the backing of the karaoke machine.

At this reunion the other night, it was just good to see who all had survived through the years. Out of our class of 467 graduates, 401 were still alive, and around 130 attended, along with about 70 spouses or significant others. Sadly, that 401 became 400 a few days later, when the lady whom most considered to be the most beautiful in the class was killed in a car wreck.

We intend to hold a sixty-year reunion, but I suggested that we find a venue that’s wheelchair accessible for that one.

How do you feel about attending your high school reunions? Share one of experiences with us.

If you liked this, feel free to comment and repost link on Facebook or Twitter.

clip_image001Bio:

A graduate of Duke University, I spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of my career was spent in Texas, but for a few years I traveled many other states. I started writing about 20 years ago, and have six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since my retirement from insurance a few years ago, I have devoted my time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel myself.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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17 Responses to Class Reunions

  1. John Cason says:

    Good read. Thank you for mentioning my father.

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  2. High school reunions aren’t a big thing in the UK. Practically all my friends moved away and within a few years I’d lost touch with them all. I go back to the area every year, but rarely see anyone I went to school with. Keeping in touch is one thing American’s are so much better at than the Brit’s!
    Cheers!

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  3. That would make yours a little more difficult than mine, since I still live in my hometown. Hope you will be able to make the next one.

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  4. And I totally want to do one of your Friday posts! Wait for me, okay? 😉

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  5. Hi David:

    I’m so glad that you enjoyed your reunion.

    I went to my 20th reunion (after not attending #10) and it was absolutely wonderful. My father said — the night I returned from reunion to the house in which I was raised — that I should remember that memory because that from here on out, it gets sadder. That people get sick. That people who were there won’t be at the next one. That people get divorced, lose children.

    I kind of pshawed him.

    As I get closer to my 30th high school reunion, I hate to say it, but he was right. So many of my classmates are battling cancer; it’s awful. So many have divorced, lost spouses. Children. Parents. Still, I’ll look forward to reconnecting. We really did love each other. It was such a simple time.

    And even though people say we are so connected with all this technology, I think it is a fancy lie. Receiving a text is nothing compared to sitting next to a friend and having her squeeze your arm at just the right moment.

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    • I’m glad you attend yours. You apparently stay in touch with some of your classmates in order to know what’s happening with people’s health, etc. Good for you.

      I agree with you about cyber relationships. It’s good to be able to touch base with old friends and relatives by email, DM, texting, etc., but it’s NOT the same as face-to-face visits. Jenny Hansen blogged about this phenomenon yesterday. Although her blog dealt with dating, the overall principle is the same.

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    • And I think you’re totally lying about being out of high school between 20 and 30 years, or else you’re using an old picture. lol. You couldn’t look that good at that age.

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  6. My ten year reunion is this summer and I have no intention of attending.

    1. Because I hate the sniffing each other out thing.

    2. Because I’ve kept up with the only people I care about and everyone else (from what I’ve seen on Facebook) I have no interest in ever seeing again.

    The day I graduated I looked forward to the reunions becasue I liked High School, but looking back I see everyone in a different light and I’m not interested in being involved in their clicks anymore!

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    • Thanks for the comment, Jennie. Ten-year is probably a good one to skip. A lot of it involves the “sniffing each other out thing.”

      When your twenty-year comes around, rethink this. By then it won’t be such a competitive thing. Classmates may have become more important to you by then.

      One of the reasons family is so important to most of us is that they knew us “back when” and share many memories with us. Classmates are not family, but they do have a somewhat similar connection with us. I hope by year twenty that will become important to you.

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      • I agree with your take on this, David. I would never have guessed at 10 or even 20 that I would be interested in attending a reunion. Went to the 30 skeptically …. then no more till the 50. I am so glad I went. I have made some connections with classmates from all those years ago that I didn’t really know well then, but sure like now. And it is indeed helpful to connect with people who shared some experiences way back then.

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  7. I really enjoyed this post, and even learned a couple of things about you, Bro. Of course I want to know who all the people are you’re referring to. I’m sorry to learn that one of your classmates was killed right afterwards …. which one? And you know that I envy you about knowing John Denver, since I was much more of a fan of his than you were.

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  8. C E Schwilk says:

    Nice that you’ve had such wonderful experiences at your high school reunions (for the most part). I’m going to be one of those who never attends – maybe when I’m 90 and I’ve heard only 3 of us are showing up, but until then? They don’t miss me and they probably don’t even know (or care) where I am. Fine by me! Torture and boredom – and the only people from high school I care about I’m still in contact with them or they’ve died. I don’t need a reunion. (wow – I sound a lot more bitter about this than I really am…) LOL

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  9. Karlene says:

    I think we are all brought together on this earth for a purpose. To meet those who we need to connect with. Unfortunately the first meetings we’re often to young to know why. Then we’re too busy being someone. Then we’re too busy acquiring what we think we need. Then we’re too busy with kids and family. With work…. time flies. But reunions provided opportunities to reunite those that crossed our paths and perhaps, with the passing years, we find awareness and the reason we were brought together. Somethings just take time.
    And as the years go… the handicap venue is essential.
    Thanks for sharing a great post.

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