Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Our 60th high school reunion

I recognized the first few people who walked in the door.

Funny, how after our high school graduation was 60 years ago, most faces look, if not exactly, much like they did then. Oh, there are some cosmetic differences... hair color change (a lot have gone to silver)... weight (most have gained, a few have lost). But I could walk down the Boardwalk in Atlantic City and recognize every one of my former classmates in a crowd.

There were only 62 of us to begin with. We have lost 12 to death and cannot locate three. There are a few who choose not to respond to invitations or announcements of events we plan, or who flatly refuse to attend, and I feel bad that they miss out on the warmth and genuine affection among us all.

We had 25 actual classmates attend the reunion on Saturday, September 24th, plus many spouses and significant others. Two of those at the party started school with us but moved, still maintaining affection for everyone and still coming to the reunions as if they had completed all four years with the rest of us.

Too many of our classmates who really wanted to attend could not be there due to illness. We remembered them and wished them well.

I wasn't what you would call popular in high school. I didn't have a very high opinion of myself and never felt that I fit in.

But I was academically successful and loved being part of the music programs, either as a pianist accompanist or as a vocalist. So, I was very much involved in the school.

And the reception I received from everyone who came to the party mirrored the way everyone was received... with love, hugs, smiles, laughter and reminiscences... kindness and friendliness, regardless of past history.

We were all members of the Class of 1959... we had memories in common: the teachers, the classes, the mischief, the seriousness and the sense that there was something good waiting for us someday when high school ended.

As Frank Anastasia said in his opening remarks as emcee, we were fortunate to have grown up with loving parents in the shelter of a small, South Jersey farming community (though some of us made the trip to Hammonton daily from Egg Harbor City where we grew up). We were naive, innocent and unaware that outside of our little corners of the world life wasn't as easy for many young people our age.

College, full-time jobs, marriage, whatever paths we chose after graduation changed all that. But we faced the world with a solid foundation of belief in ourselves and the knowledge that we were prepared to compete with anyone we encountered in the real world.

We will have another get-together soon. No way we will wait for the 70th... that's tempting fate. We are planning to meet to celebrate our joint 80th birthdays in two years, perhaps earlier in smaller groups with less organizing required. Everyone wants to do that. No one is content to call it a day at the 60th reunion.

That's how we relate to one another now and it's a joy to be part of it.


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