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.
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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.