Tuesday, October 30, 2018

High School Reunion

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

7 comments:

  1. God bless you in being able to attend your 50th high school reunion. I did not attend your high school. Looking forward to the 100th year anniversary of my high school in Chicago. All graduating classes will attend.

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  2. You had a pretty good turnout after 50 years. I, too, graduated in 1968. Our 50th reunion was this summer. I skipped it as I did all of the others. Out of my class of 150 I am in contact with none and am not sad about that. I only remember very bland days in high school and just marking time to get thru it. Life got much MUCH better after that. No bad memories, just not many good memories. My husband daily lives the good old days. A few years ago, we moved about 15 miles from where he grew up. Every road, bridge, tree and field holds many memories for him and he recounts every one, every time and goes to every reunion. They have one EVERY year. He loves it. Me, not so much. I have loved every stage of life since high school and can’t wait for things to come. I especially love new technology and strive to keep up. No good ole days for me.

    I hope you enjoyed your walk down memory lane.

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  3. I do not have close friendships with anyone from my graduating class although I do bump into former classmates from time to time. I don't feel any particular connection to high school days and had no interest in going to a 50th reunion. Last summer I was in a painting class with a woman who had been in my graduating class. She went on and on about people and events I have no memory of and all I could think about was "OMG do I look that old?"

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  4. I went to my 25th and enjoyed the whole thing -- seeing old friends, remembering some mischief we got into, meeting some "new" people I hadn't known back then. B and I also went to her 25th, also on Long Island. But now I feel: been there, done that. Have no interest in the 50th. But glad you had a good time.

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  5. I've always been iffy about reunions, but FB helped us reconnect, which in turn make the actual reunion more bearable.

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  6. That's a great turnout. I missed my last couple of reunions but I went to my 30th which was weird. One guy tried to pick me up who was married to one of my classmates. I have some friends on Facebook from my school but I can't remember some of them. I will try to go to my 50th which comes up in 3 years. Hopefully I'll lose that many pounds by then. LOL

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  7. I enjoy reading other people’s perspectives. I’m in the process of planning and hosting a 20th year reunion for my graduating class and it’s very overwhelming! I have found a few things that have helped me along with the process: first things first, you can find all of your classmates on Alumni Class. I also just started an online store to raise money for things like decorations, food, drinks, and prizes. I’ll link these below so you can check them out!

    https://apparelnow.com/ (this is free, by the way!)
    https://www.alumniclass.com/

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