I don't know how it could it have gone any better.
Three things make a good reunion. Participation, participation, and participation.
We gather to see one another. Fifty years after graduation our ranks have thinned. Two thirds of our classmates who could be here were here. I don't have any statistics on it, but I bet if we got graded on the curve we would get an A++ on participation. Classmates came from Washington, California, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland and South Carolina. Bottom line, with such a great turnout, we could have had a good time wherever and however we gathered.
But the great locations we had for our events made the gatherings just that much better. On Friday night, we had all the room we needed, but not so much we were too spread out. We were a little too crowded in the dining room Saturday night. You know why? Because we had more people participate than anyone would have reasonably predicted when the arrangements were made. I think the crowded dining room should be recalled as a badge of honor. On Sunday morning the drizzle forced us inside, but Fred and Ruth were ready for that complication. Being kept inside as one big group for our final visits added, rather than subtracted, from our enjoyment of the gathering.
Our programs were nice. Nice and short might be a better term. They didn't get in the way of the friendship renewals that I think of as the real goal of reunions. A few classmates were there who hadn't been seen for decades. Friendships made as teenagers, or earlier, friendships that are lasting lifetimes, are getting stronger, not withering on the vine. I suggest that friendships so strong in youth don't last unless nurtured. Our reunions have been a major factor in keeping those friendships nurtured. Give yourself a pat on the back for every reunion attended. Everybody who comes to our gatherings makes the gathering just that much better.
As you reflect on our gathering, turn over in your mind the pleasurable conversations you had with old friends. Think about how long ago it was when you had the last opportunity for such conversation. Such conversations are years and sometimes decades apart.(The term "old friends," when used in reflections on a gathering of people who became friends more than a half century ago is a term of affection. It is not used as a reference to age.)
Some aspects of our reunion stand out as I reflect on the gathering.
Getting to see Gene Eppard, who stood up with me when Bobbie and I were married, our last visit was close to twenty years ago.
Jim Troeglen describing with emotion the years spent in the one room Brick Monroe elementary school with Art Carder and George Thomas as classmates, and with Thom's mother as their teacher.
Listening to Sharon Rotsch Sohns when she referred to our glorious leader. Just to be contrary, she mispronounces his name. When Sharon says "Thom" it has the same initial sound as thumb.
Observing the support that flowed to classmates who have lost the love of their life. There were long talks, eye to eye, hands holding talks, between classmates who have both suffered that fate.
Listening to Helen describe what Jody is going through, the courage she shows in doing so, and the inner strength she and her family demonstrate. Hearing the catch in Helen's voice as she brought us up to date.
Those were just samples. What came through for me was a mix of both serious and light hearted reflections.
In our school years we had wonderful times that are fun to look back on. There was an explanation of this in the most recent Parade Magazine that is a part of the K.C. Star. An inquiry to the Ask Marilyn column was, "Why do our high school experiences occupy such a prominent place in our memories?" Marilyn, who must know, because she is a genius, replied, "During high school, we develop the most vigorous adult bodies we will ever have. At the same time, we possess the least amount of sense we will ever have. This combination produces many memorable results." [Perhaps this explains why we have never had a reunion that did not include the joyous telling (by the girls) of the boys skinny dipping and the girls stealing their clothes episode.]
In the fifty years we have been out of school, we have had a lot of great times. But sad times have come as well. When we gather for a reunion, we get to visit with some of those who helped us get through the tough times. Those who have taken the hits are reunited with those who tried to offer compassion and support. Friends, true friends, not just acquaintances, have time together to revisit whatever they want to talk about. Talk soon turns to the good times, both before and after graduation.
And haven't we had good times. We were raised by the Greatest Generation. We went from age 12 to age 22 in The Fabulous Fifties. The only way to improve on that is to have occasions when we can gather with those who have enjoyed the same blessings. That helps us realize of just how lucky we are. Our collective good fortune is reaffirmed by visiting with one another and sharing what we have experienced in the fifty years since we graduated, a time period that is equal to between 20 and 25% of the time the United States of America has been an independent nation. (Had to close with a comment to bring attention to the breadth of our experience without calling us old.)