I did not keep in touch with high school friends after graduation. During college I saw some occasionally, the last time at a wedding years ago.
Fast forward years. Lots of years. 50 to be exact, and a group of folks decide it was time to reconnect, stir old memories, rekindle friendships, find out what happened during a half century of living, celebrate successes, lament failures.
It was difficult locating people after 50 years, especially the women. Girls marry, change their name, move, maybe divorce and change names again. Social media helps, but not everyone could be tracked down. And not to dwell on the sadness, it is disheartening learning of classmates who died. We remember them as we knew them, young and healthy and lively.
Not everyone wants to be found. Not everyone loved or liked high school, me included. But for me, curiosity won.
|General Douglas McArthur High School, Levittown NY, |
Class of '68
50th High School Reunion
And so I returned to my hometown for my 50th High School Reunion.
|The corridors of McArthur H.S.|
Echo with the Sounds of the Class of '68
A hearty group of grads ventured out in a rainstorm to tour our high school. From the outside the building looks the same as it did decades ago, like a three-story factory building, but that cannot be changed. Inside it appears much better than I remember. I recall dull yellow walls, long narrow gray lockers, too many students. Long corridors remain, but halls are brightly lit and not painted the same monotonous dreadful color. The building, classrooms, gym – all seemed in excellent condition. The cafeteria, recently renovated, was almost appealing. Not the same school I attended, and yet it was.
About 300 kids comprise the current senior class. My 1968 graduation class boasted 554 strong. We were boomers, offspring of parents who moved to Long Island’s new suburbs following World War II. Blocks of tract homes housed families. Today neighborhoods are more age-diverse, accommodating empty nesters, retirees, couples, singles as well as families. Fewer students rush through school hallways. Less pushing and shoving and bodies…
The main Reunion event took place Saturday night, hours of schmoozing with folks my age. Some I knew, or at least remembered that at one time I knew them, many I never knew. It was not possible to be acquainted with over 500 individuals as well as lots of other kids in the school.
A large group of mature (but not yet elderly) people stood around talking and drinking as I entered the Holiday Inn bar. Appearance-wise I fit in perfectly and recognized some of the women. Women dye their hair, wear make-up, indulge in cosmetic surgery, preserving traces of their younger selves. The men, on the other hand, were bald or gray or a combination, many sported a mix of facial hair, and many displayed bulging bellies. I did not recognize any of them.
Instructions received before the event requested everyone make a name tag with their yearbook photo. We stared at a picture of yesteryear next to the face of today and commented, “You look the same…haven‘t changed much...” and other untruths.
Some still work, many retired. To Florida. There are doctors and lawyers, teachers, business owners, photographers, CPAs, restaurant personnel, financial geeks, entertainers, lots of Grandmas and Grandpas. The class dispersed around the country and overseas, but many stayed closer to home, living in the same community and sometimes the same house they grew up in.
No famous person emerged from the class. At least two made very, VERY big bucks.
I needed a crowd to help me remember. When discussing people and events at times I wondered – was I there?Why don’t I remember her/him?Am I sure we all went to the same school?
It is hard to get my head around the fact that we graduated half a century ago. Memories were rekindled, but others remain buried. I guess that’s what happens after 50+ years…
And I will (probably) maintain contact (at least on Facebook!) with some of my new-found old friends.
McArthur Class of '68 Reunion photo
(almost everyone is in this picture!)
Photo by hub