Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What a reunion!

     Everyone should attend a high school reunion at some point in their life. My assumption is that the later in life, the more satisfying and enjoyable that reunion will be. I just returned from Phoenix, AZ, where I graduated from Washington High School in 1960.  The students in the class of  '60 (in Phoenix at least) were perhaps at the end of the golden age of "teen-age-hood". We didn't struggle with drugs, alcohol wasn't much of an issue, and "sex" mostly consisted of necking in the back seat at the local drive-in theatre. Boys still usually paid for dates. When your date was flush, you cruised Central Avenue and had a burger at Bob's Big Boy but if money was a little short, you cruised Central Avenue and had a burger at MacDonald's!

Ande Lange's Ford Fairlane (Alyce Anderwald Ely photo)

Looking over the archives of the Ram Page school newspaper (Alyce Anderwald Ely photo)

     Fast forward fifty years. The bloom of youth is now camouflaged under wrinkles, a little extra body mass, and the wear and tear of years of success, failure, trials and tribulations of marriage, careers and child-rearing. Refreshingly honest, we 68 (+/-) year olds are what we are, and there is no sense pretending any longer, or trying to make an impression on each other. More than 10% of us no longer walk this earth. Some were lost in Viet Nam, some taken by accidents which happened while pursuing what we loved most, some by their own hand, or accident or disease.

       When becoming acquainted with old classmates, the amazing thing to me was that even though the present face didn't look familiar, as soon as I saw the name tag, the face became recognizable. It is something about the eyes.... Stevie Collins said it first... it's the eyes. When you gaze on a face you haven't seen in 50 years, but you knew the face and name way back then, it's the eyes that give away the identity. 

Trying to get the class of 60 together for a photo was like herding cats! (Alyce Anderwald Ely photo)
      Our reunion consisted of a tour of the Washington High School Campus, a class of 1960 dinner dance, and a barbecue for members of the graduating classes of 1957-1961. During our campus tour, we learned that libraries have fewer books and are called media centers, and that classroom teachers now use smartboards instead of blackboards and digital clickers instead of pen and paper for test taking.  Our "dinner- dance" was really a social hour, dinner, and talk, talk, talk! Saturday night's barbecue included a classic car show.which was a memory jogger in itself. To see a nearly 70 year old guy crawl behind the wheel of his bright shiny vintage buggy and turn the key, was to see the years melt away with the revving of those pipes and the face of a triumphant 18 year old emerge.
     We hugged those we remembered well but hadn't seen for years, talked until we were hoarse, vowed to keep in touch and to be sure to hold another reunion in 5 years or less.
 The take away message from our 50 Year Reunion is this:
 Life isn't getting any longer..
 It's time to be checking off those items on your bucket list!
What? No bucket list? then you'd better make one!

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