Who Says You Can’t Go Home? 50th High School Reunion Works Well!
Cranky old retiree finds he and classmates have mellowed out
By Bill Kalmar, Retiree
Aug. 3, 2011 - Most of us, I’m confident, have some rather significant events in
our lives that bring joy and excitement. It could be marriage, the birth of a child – perhaps a first grandchild, a new home or retirement.
Somewhere in all those events many of us will experience the thrill of our 50th high school reunion.
And that is just what happened this summer when the 1961 Class of Servite High School
from Detroit gathered in Frankenmuth, Michigan to reminisce, to reacquaint, and to revisit all those memorable days.
The gathering of the almost septuagenarians took a line or two from the song,
“Memories” - “So it’s the laughter, We will remember, Whenever we remember, The way we were”.
And as if on cue with strains of that song playing in the background, we laughed our way through the entire evening.
We had reserved the hall until 2:00AM but most of us turned into pumpkins
around 12:30AM! Laughter and great food will do that to you!
Out of a graduating class of 134 there were 64 alumni in attendance. What with
spouses and friends there was a total of 134 who celebrated this momentous occasion with 28 coming from out of state. A sad note was learning
that sixteen of our classmates are now deceased.
This was time though for recalling fond memories of our high school days. Back
in the 50’s and early 60’s those were rather innocent days but we also had our share of mischief, much to the dismay of the saintly nuns who
attempted to inculcate us with some strong moral values.
Perhaps a verse from a Kenny Chesney song describes those days accurately:
“Man I don’t know where the time goes, But it sure goes fast, just like
that. We were wanna be rebels who didn’t have a clue, With our rock n’ roll t-shirts and our typically bad attitudes, Had no excuses for the
things that we’d done, We were brave, we were crazy, we were mostly young.”
As is the case with a 50th class reunion, people have settled into a
mellow lifestyle. Gone are the days of braggadocio where people attempt to out glamour everyone.
If there was a former CEO present or a prince of Siam or a heart surgeon or
someone who might be living in a cardboard box, or a “motivational speaker living in a trailer down by the river,” ala Matt Foley from SNL, no
one knew. None of those things were important or relevant.
Heck, on this evening everyone was an “it’ girl!
This was a time to just appreciate the friendships we had made while in school
and discover that the bond was even stronger after all these years. It was a time to share pictures of grandchildren – a time to recall the
lab experiment that went bad and the resulting odor that prompted the evacuation of the school – or to chuckle about those of us who were sent
home for wearing inappropriate clothing: peg pants!
It was a time to discuss growing up in a neighborhood, where as they say in the
TV program “Cheers” – where everyone knows your name.
A time to reminisce about sneaking that cigarette around the corner from the
school. Or, gathering in the local neighborhood drug store for a cherry coke. Yes, just like the Bon Jovi song suggests, you can go home,
at least in one’s memories.
What surprised me was the number of grads, albeit small, we were unable to
locate. Certainly some might have moved and left no forwarding address. Obviously there were some name changes. Maybe some did not want to be
a part of the celebration which in my mind would be unfortunate.
Or, maybe some were abducted by aliens and whisked off to a faraway planet.
Could a few have been subject to the recent rapture? Who knows? But here’s my admonition for whatever it is worth.
If you are approaching your 50th high school reunion you have one
chance to reconnect with friends and classmates who in some fashion influenced or impacted your life.
Find out who is organizing the event. If no one is, step up to the plate and
organize it yourself. You will be exhilarated for once again reliving your youth and being with people who helped you shape it. By all means,
do not miss an opportunity to relive your past with a host of friends.
Yes, you can go back home! And feel free to wear your peg pants!
L Bill Kalmar is retired in Lake Orion, Michigan,
and is the former Director of the Michigan Quality Council. He is a
frequent contributor to SeniorJournal.com. His opinions are his own.