Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ruminations About the Class Reunion

Well, here it is a week later already and my 50th class reunion is now history. This time last week, my neighbors and friends Jack and Judy (Judy being a former classmate) and I were barreling our way up Rt. 1 and I-95 to Pennsylvania in Jack's Lexus. Last weekend a Nor'easter hit the east coast and I was reluctant to drive in that wind and rain. I posted a Facebook comment to that effect. Judy saw it and offered me a ride up with them. Of course I accepted immediately. I am so thankful to have such wonderful and gracious friends as Jack and Judy. This is just another reason why I love living in Delaware.

Arriving in Pennsylvania, we decided it was best that I stay where Jack and Judy were staying, with another one of our former classmates whose name is also Judy. I'm telling you, I'm blessed to have such friends.

I'll jump right to the reunion. I'm one of these people who have absolutely no reluctance about going to my class reunions. I think all of my friends (other than some of my former classmates) have never gone to any of their reunions. They all give the same reason. Each one of them has had some bad experience while they were in high school and they don't want top revisit that time. This is something I don't understand. Who hasn't had a bad experience in high school? I certainly had my share of experiences that I wish had not happened. But that is all in the past. I guess we're all different. I try not to let the past dictate how I act in the present. But that's just me. There is a lot I "don't get." I don't lose much sleep over it though. In fact, I don't lose ANY sleep over past wrongs.

Our class had 114 graduating members. We also invited to our reunion former classmates who spent most of their school years with us but didn't graduate from our high school because they had moved to another school district.

Of the 114 graduating members of our class there are 20 that we know have died. There are 12 that are missing. 40 class members and 3 non graduating class members attended the reunion, most with their spouses or Significant Others. My Significant Other (aka Bill Kelly) chose not to attend.....again.

All of the class members had a wonderful time! This was the best class reunion I've ever attended.

The class reunions in the past that I've attended were:

20th Class Reunion held at St. Anthony’s Lodge in Downingtown, Pennsylvania

This reunion was a blur to me because it was so crowded and noisy (with the guest DJ), that I only had a chance to talk to the classmates who sat next to me at the dining table.

25th Class reunion held at the Waynebrook Inn in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania

Again, this was another very noisy class reunion that I had to shout to talk to anyone. The DJ was painfully loud. What was with that anyway?

35th Class Reunion held at the Italian Social Club in West Chester, Pennsylvania

This was a fun class reunion. The room was big and we had time to walk around and become acquainted with our former classmates. We also had a DJ but he didn't dominate the proceedings like the previous two class reunions.

40th Class Reunion held at the Downingtown Country Club in Downingtown, Pennsylvania

This was an "Okay" class reunion. I personally felt too much time was spent by the organizers thanking one another and giving out prizes. I wasn't sure whether I was at the one of those self aggrandizing awards ceremonies that the Hollywood stars give each other or a class reunion. We had some time to mingle with our former classmates but way too much time was spent giving out those prizes (like "best buns." Again, what was that all about?)

45th Class Reunion held at the Sheraton Hotel in Frazer, Pennsylvania

Up until the class reunion last week, this is the reunion I liked the most. The accommodations were great (I stayed overnight at the hotel in very comfortable room and bed) and we had plenty of time to wander around the room and reacquaint ourselves with our former classmates. In fact, I don't remember any "prizes" being handed out at all (thank goodness.)

50th Class Reunion held at the Whitford Country Club in Exton, Pennsylvania.

This reunion was the best! We had classmates come from great distances to be reunited with former classmates that they had not seen in fifty years. There was Jane and Marlene from Florida. Fred came in from Illinois. Ted came in from Oregon. Kathy came in from Las Vegas, Nevada. Don and Jeanne came in from upper New York State. Duer and Nanci came in from Tennessee. John came up from Virginia. And Bonnie, my first date (Soph Hop 1956) came in from Detroit, Michigan. The rest of the classmates came from the Downingtown area or nearby states (like Jack, Judy and me, 2 1/2 hours away in lower Delaware.)

We had music at this reunion but it was a juke box that didn't dominate the premises. We had some classmates speak from the podium. Duer gave the invocation. Denny said a few words about the growth of the Downingtown School District since we graduated (not surprisingly it has grown greatly.)

Frank, our former class president same something but I don't remember what he said. Not much has changed since our high school days because I never remember what he said then either. Sorry Frank, no disrespect but you would have made a great politician. The lips move, sound comes out but after you're done talking, I don't know what you said. That's all right Frank, we all love you anyway.

Then it came time for Patty. If you're not of our class, it's hard to explain Patty. Let me try to explain. Patty is our "entertainer." No one cannot help but be amused when Patty "does her thing." Patty is the one who in the past has passed out the "awards." When I saw Patty tippy toe to the podium I thought, "Oh no, here come the awards." All I could think of was "Please Patty, not more 'Best Buns' awards. Al got it the last time, he doesn't need to get it again. We get it. " Thank goodness she wasn't giving out those joke awards. However, she was giving out gold stars. Her goal was to give everyone a gold star. The gold star was sort of like an award. Old habits are hard to break but this seemed harmless.

Then Carole, the organizer of the reunion, came to the microphone. She had a wonderful idea. Pass the microphone around and let everyone has their say. Oh joy. Exactly what I did not want to do. That damn microphone. Even though the reunion committee rented it, doesn't mean it has to be used. But Carole was not to be deterred. She handed the microphone off to John up from Virginia Beach. John spoke awhile about what he's been doing the past fifty years until Carole said "That's enough!" and took the mike back (in the kindest way possible of course.) I think even Carole realized that if everyone was going to get up and speak about what they did the past fifty years, we were going to be at the country club way past our closing time of 11 PM.

Carole then passed the mike around the floor to those class members who don't usually attend the reunion. It was interesting hearing them but I think a lot of us really didn't want the mike thrust into our face. I know I didn't. I know my friend Bill didn't. Hey, I came to the reunion to reacquaint myself with my former class members, not to do the Academy Award thing of thanking every one from my kindergarten teacher to my agent. But then, that's just me. What can I tell you?

After the Passing Around of the Microphone, came time to mingle with the classmates again. We did that until about 11:30 at which time some of the class members started to head to the coat roams to get their weather gear to venture out into the Nor'easter rains whipping around outside the country club. All too soon another class renion was coming to an end.

This is probably our last formal class reunion. We're at an age now that more of us won't be around for the 55th class reunion. And also, the "55th Class Reunion" doesn't have quite the ring of a 25th, 35th, 40th, 45th or 50th does it? No, I think what we're going to do as far as class reunions in the future is to have informal annual class reunions. We have done this in the past. Usually it is a picnic at a classmate's backyard in the summertime. One year we even went on a night time dinner cruise out of Philadelphia. Those picnics and the cruise were very popular. I will suggest this course to the reunion committee.

I think that is the way to go in the future. One good thing about those the informal, picnic reunions is there are no awards handed out.

By the way Patty, I didn't get a gold star.


Kim Ayres said...

I'll attend my 100th...

nitewrit said...


I was startled at the number who have passed away. My class had 106 members. 12 have died and 3 are missing. Out of the 12 who have died, five were among my clicque, even after high school. One of those missing is my old girlfriend, Sonja. Most of those who died were since the last reunion, when I believe only three had passed, perhaps four.

I feel we are still too young to have lost so many. You've lost almost 16% of your class and I've lost just over 11% of mine.

I guess in a few years we'll be buying that expensive bottle of wine to stash away for the last man standing.


Ron said...

Yes Lar, the former class members are starting to drop like flies now. I guess that's to be expected once we arrived at the 50th reunion. We're not waiting for five years to have another reunion. We're going to do one each year until we have that last man (or woman) standing. By the way, I plan to be that person since I'm the record keeper of the class.

Ron said...

Okay Kim. I assume you're one of those former classmates who never attends your reunions. Now why is that?

Kim Ayres said...

I didn't like school and I didn't like most of the people in school. To me, school was a place of bullies and forced conformity.

There was a 20 year reunion a few years ago and I saw some photos from it. I tried to identify some of the balding, middle-aged blokes and managed one or 2, but it actually brought back more bad memories than good.

I'm happy to be in contact with those who I got on well with, but I have no desire to meet those I did not.

Ron said...


I can understand your desire not to attend your class reunion and reacquaint yourself with those that you did not get along well with.

I had my share my share of classmates who weren't very kind to me. I wasn't in the In Crowd. Because I came from the poor side of town, I had to work after school thus I couldn't hang around with a clique. But to be honest with you I attend my reunions because I want to know what my classmates did with their lives.

Another reason is probably my own vanity. I weight the same now (160) as I did the day I graduated in 1959. I don't have a pot belly. I have most of my hair with just a touch of gray on the sides. I still have my youthful exuberance. You know the saying "Living well is the best revenge?" Maybe there is a little bit of that in me.

This is a subject for one of more blog postings but I am fascinated with the stories that unfold at these reunions. One that I find especially interesting is at the 20th class reunion the old cliques were still intact for the most part. The 35th reunion, the class cliques relaxed a bit. Then at the 40th there were very little evidence of the old class cliques. Finally, at the 50th, the cliques are finally gone. It only took fifty years for some of my classmates to finally relax.

What I really liked about this last reunion was that I finally had the chance (and nerve) to go up to some of the gals I had a crush on in high school and give them and big hug and tell them so. With Rosie, Marlene, and Jane the response was the same. Each one broke out into a big ear to ear smile.

Goodwill and camaraderie, that's what it's all about Kim, Even with those who didn't treat me kindly, I made it a point to approach everyone of my former classmates, even those who didn't like me. Some of them were still stand offish but that was not a problem for me. I put my arm around their shoulders and had someone take our picture. When you see the pictures you can tell who I am. I'm the one smiling.