Sunday, March 15, 2009

Class Reunion

This week I met with my some of my classmates from the Downingtown High School Class of 1959 for a 50th class reunion committee meeting. I am still amazed that we have arrived at our 50th class reunion so fast. It just seems like a few years ago that we graduated from good old DHS. Our class had the unique distinction of being the last class of the Fifties. We were also the last class to graduate from the old Downingtown High School building on Manor Avenue in Downingtown. The class after ours would graduate from a new high school building. I remember at the time that I regretted that we were not able to spend a year in the new building. However, looking back from this vantage point, I am now glad we were the last to graduate in that grand old building on Route 322.

Our class is fortunate in that we have almost always had someone in our class to organize a class reunion. The first class reunion I attended was the 20th which was held at St. Joseph’s in Downingtown, the site of our graduation party back in 1959. Our 25th class reunion was held at the Waynebrook Inn in Honeybrook, Pa. What I remember about that class reunion was that the disc jockey was so loud (or I was sitting too close to him), that I couldn’t hear my fellow classmates when I tried to talk to them and catch up on old times.

We didn’t have a 30th class reunion. I think that was because no one took the bull by the horns and organized it. A former classmate, Jean Timmerman Swisher, took the reins for the 35th class reunion. Jean was with our high school class until her senior year. That year her parents moved to West Chester and that is the school she graduated from. Even though Jean didn’t graduate with our class she took it upon herself to organize our class and pull off the best reunion we probably ever had. It was held at the Italian Social Club in West Chester. I still have a video of that reunion.

Our 40th class reunion was held at the Downingtown Country Club in Downingtown. This was a momentous reunion for me because it was the reunion that I came out. Every class reunion I filled out the questionnaire which contained the question “Married?” I always checked “Single.” However, this time I checked “Married” and put the name of my “Spouse” as William D. Kelly. Bill is my “spouse”, or Life Partner, since 1964. I have to admit I was very nervous when I entered the building at the Downingtown Country Club that Saturday evening. I didn’t know what kind of reception I would receive. What I did know was that after 40 years, I thought it was time to stop this charade that I was “single.” I wasn’t and I’m not now. Bill and I have been together for 45 years now. The reception I received? I was quite surprised. It was the same reception I’ve always received. I was still the same Ron who was their classmate and continued to be the same Ron. A couple of classmates talked to me after the reunion and said they had “no idea” that I was gay. In fact one of them said “you didn’t act gay.” Oh well, stereotypes will always be with us. She meant well.

The 45th class reunion was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Frazer. That was also a good reunion. I had a chance to reacquaint myself with many of my former classmates plus I took a load of pictures.

This year for our 50th, we’re going to hold it at the Whitford Country Club in Downingtown. Since it is our 50th, we’re eligible to ride in the homecoming parade. I don’t know how many of my classmates will take advantage of that “opportunity” to ride the float advertising that we’re now officially Old Fogies.


  1. Ron,

    Interesting. I hadn't realized you were the last class of the old D-town high. Strange isn't it? I was in the first graduating class that same year of OJR.

    Our fifty reunion is coming up the week before yours.

    I think I was one of your closest friends growing up, I certainly always considered you mine, and I never thought you were Gay. I did think you were exceedingly shy around gierls, even more than I was. When you told me you were Gay, it explained some of those things.


  2. Lar,

    Yes, you were my best friend during my school years. I still remember who bitterly disappointed I was when your parents moved out of the Downingtown school district and the realiziation hit me that we would no longer be classmates. Ironically, the person who took over the status of BF is the man sitting to the left of me in the picture on this blog. After all these years we're still friends. Interesting.

    BTW, the was shy around everyone - boys and girls. Painfully shy. I didn't get over that shyness until my 20's when I started to work in Philadelphia. Gradually it went away. Most of it anyway. There are still remnants of my innate shyness that pops up from time to time.

  3. Ron,

    I have gotten over a lot of my shyness over the years as well, but not completely. I think it runs in the family. I really think my father had a streak of shyness in his youth and all my kids were shy. Just something you have to deal with and overcome.


  4. It's funny, but a the end of my life now sometimes I forget that I'm supposed to be shy. I think a lot of our innate shyness was because of the way our fathers treated us. Once I got out in the real world and realized I wasn't as bad as my father constantly told me, I began to lose my shyness. Parents can really do long term damage to children in their early years. We're proof of that.


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