I am not a big fan of the rear view mirror in life. Unless you have a selective memory, these mirrors tend to reflect the truth, which is comprised of good times and bells you cannot unring. While I have never been to a High School reunion before last night, I decided the 50th might be a good place to jump into the past and have a look around. It was a hoot!
Waynesville (Missouri) High School, like other such bastions of education, supports a good number of kids from military families courtesy of it’s proximity to Ft. Leonard Wood. I am told that reunions here are usually relatively small, and last night’s group was no exception. The attendees, as a result, were dominated by folks who called Waynesville and the surrounding area home, and who presumably have maintained some degree of contact with one another. I was a student politician back in the day and knew most of our class, 173 strong, by name. I am guessing there were about 25 attendees last night not counting spouses and significant others, which brought the crowd to 50 or so. A photographic display of known classmates who have gone to their reward, represented another 29 or so folks. A number of close High School friends were represented in this group and their departure was a sobering consideration.
Now for the fun stuff. I love the game of baseball and to that end I pitched for our team in my junior and senior years. Behind me was a human vacuum cleaner at shortstop who is responsible for much of the success that I enjoyed on the mound. He is still unassuming, wiry and wearing the perpetual smile that was so reassuring when we took the field. We talked about my efforts to pitch around a big kid from an opposing team who could drive a ball into orbit. I served up a breaking ball to this goliath who slapped it out of the ball field, much to the consternation of our coach. My shortstop, who had a great deal of credibility with the coach, suggested to the coach that I had made a “good pitch”. The coach’s response was “good for whom”. The answer was obvious. We laughed again last night.
As I “worked” the room, shaking hands and hugging folks who I likely will never see again, I was surprisingly comfortable. I was reminded of the innocence and trust that we shared, feelings that have eroded as a result of the great division in people today. I was also reminded just how simple life was in 1968. Our school was not politically oriented and I suspect most of us cared little for the headlines with the exception of Vietnam, a unique issue given the number of Army brats in our student population. The group last night reflected a cross section of American culture, with a surprising range of vocations and interests.
Several of the men were enjoying a great conversation about the cars of the day, when I looked around to see Sharon in a conversation with my longest tenured High School romantic interest. Oh joy! That was a conversation that piqued my interest, but Sharon assures me was arcane. I reminded myself that Sharon can hold her own in any conversation, and the anxiety soon passed. Looking back, both ladies validate my good fortune in women….
I enjoyed this experience. The folks in attendance are old enough to be comfortable with themselves in the life they have chosen. There was very little posturing and even less need for self promotion, just as it was on that early summer evening in 1968 when we graduated. A 50th class reunion is something you will only see once in a lifetime, unless you are destined for a full page in Guinness, and this unguarded glance in the rear view mirror was fun. When we graduated, the word of the day was “we made it”. The warmth in the room was palpable and I am fortunate to be associated with this group of folks. As I said earlier, what a hoot.
And we are still making it……