My neighbor and fellow classmate Judy and her husband Jack stopped by my house yesterday morning to give me a ride with them to attend the 50th Class Reunion of the Downingtown High School class of 1959. Judy offered me the ride after she read my Facebook comment of how I hate to drive in the rain. Am I lucky or what to have such dear and generous friends? Believe me, there is not a day that goes by that I don't appreciate my friends.
Judy's husband Jack is an excellent driver as he demonstrated again and again as he traveled north on Rt. 1 to the dreaded I-95 Interstate (which thankfully was light on traffic yesterday) and then Rt. 202. Jack was steady and cool all the way. On the way up we made a pit stop at Trader Joes in one of the many shopping malls that line Rt. 202 just across the Pennsylvania state line.
My brother John from South Carolina was up at my Mom's in Downingtown (where I was originally going to stay), to pick her up and take her south with him and his wife to Greenville to spend the winter (don't I wish it was me.) Since I didn't have a car it was suggested that I stay with Jack and Judy who were staying with another classmate (who was also named Judy) rather than stay at my Mom's. That sounded like an excellent idea to me so we were off to Judy's.
I have a feeling I'm starting to confuse things here so I'll fast forward a bit here.
At Judy's, fortified with a very robust martini (compliments of Jack), we dashed out of Judy's house into the darkness of the night and the relentlessly driving rain and into Jack's waiting SUV. We were on our way to the Whitford Country Club for an evening of spiritueux de fête and camaraderie with our former classmates and old friends.
Now I'll say one thing right here, the key to having a smashing good night is to have one of Jack's martinis before entering an event like this. My previous nervousness was gone replace by an ear to ear smile which was starting to hurt my face.
Once inside the country club, I headed to the cash bar and refortified myself with another martini (this time an Appletini martini) then I plunged into the 80 or so former classmates and their spouses (mine didn't attend, he's still shy after 45 years of domesticity with me.)
Carole at the reception desk gives me my reunion booklet (and that's another story, we almost had a disaster with the printer getting the completed booklet printed but I won't go into that in this posting), name tag (like no one would no who I was, big chance) and a big "Hi Ronnie!" We're off to the races!
The room was loud with the many conversations going at once of former classmates and friends catching up on the last 50 years of so of life. A professional photographer roamed around the perimeter of the crowd taking candid shots. No shy folks in this crowd.
As is usual at these events we look for the classmates who have never attended a reunion, anxious to see if we can still recognize them and, even more important, can they recognize us!
Ah, I heard Marlene was up from Florida. Marlene and I posed together in several yearbook photos as students playing the drums. Of course neither one of us has ever played either instrument then or since. But I digress.
And there was Bonnie. Bonnie drove down from Detroit, Michigan. My first date in high school (Soph Hop - I didn't have a car, my dad drove us, I was mortified that I didn't drive.)
Then there was Anne. Anne was one of the moral compasses in our class along with Jeanie, the other moral compass of our class who was also there last night.
There was Freddie from Illinois, now an evangelist preacher. I had a long and interesting conversation with Freddie. I talked more to Fred last night than I did all the years we played together in the high school band under Mr. Ifert. Fred is still the same as he was back in The Day, just less hair (which seemed to be a common theme among most of the guys, me included.)
Rose made it! Rosie was always one of my favorite gals in class (although she never seemed to notice me.) Her brother John (who was also in our class) convinced her to come. I was so glad to see her.
So may classmates, so little time. I'm running around like a hyper caffeinated photographer, getting as many pictures of my classmates and photos of myself with them as I could. Who knows, this may be the last time I see many of them. Some came from great distance and some came from Downingtown and nearby towns and countryside, the same area they have lived the past fifty years since graduating from high school.
At this reunion we're not talking about children, or even grandchildren as much. This one we're talking about great-grandchildren! How could this be? It just seems like a few short years ago that we were fresh faced, thin and clean shaven youngsters with full heads of hair (the guys) ready to take on life after graduating from high school as the Last Class of the Fifties.
Now the hairlines of most of the guys have receded (or disappeared altogether) and the waists have thickened. But what hasn't changed is the special uniqueness that we all felt as the last class of the Fifties to graduate from the old Downingtown Joint Junior-Senior High school building. Most of us have always felt that our class, whatever the social-economic backgrounds of the different students, was special in our camaraderie and caring for each other.
Last night was one of the best nights in my life. I will never forget it.