None of my old high school buddies who I used to hang around with would be there. Neal said he couldn't make the trip from CA, particularly at this time of year. I took it he was worried about snow. Bob was in Chicago and couldn't make it either. He just had a son graduate from Medical School and was now penniless.
I almost thought about not going. I was tired. I had just completed a 6 weeks contract at a nuclear power plant in NJ, and I was on my way back home to southern VA, near Roanoke. Also, I had forgotten to pack my jacket and tie before I left. But in any case, I checked with my daughter's brother-in-law to see if he had a coat he could lend me. Unbelievably, it was too big. I thought everybody was thinner than I was at this time in my life. My metabolism had been in reverse for several years now. I was getting fatter breathing air. Nevertheless, I was fit well enough to get me through the door at the Reunion.
By the way, when I complained to my doctor that I seemed be getting a protrusion over the place where my stomach used to be, he said that men tend to accumulate "omentum" fat as they get older- not women, just men. As a biologist I knew what an omentum was- one of those vestigial organs that have no known function. Until now.
So through that door, with omentum fat in tow, I would definitely go or risk throwing away a hundred bucks. Understand I am on a "retirement income" and hate to waste it. Besides, would my old flame be single again, independent, with no kids at home, and ... and ... uh ... RICH? Moreover would she be looking for Mr. Right in an oversized jacket? Like in so many beach blanket bingo movies, we would meet, fall instantly in love, marry, and live happily ever after. Ever after? Let's see. Average life span of male born in 1940's equals 65, minus 58. Yikes, who can waste time. I didn't take Latin at WJ, but my daughter who I thought was still too young to know much about anything, taught ME (they surprise you) a new phrase the other day- Carpe Diem. "Seize the Day". It has become my motto.
I seized a glass of wine as soon as I entered the dining room at Kenwood Country Club. I'm still a little shy about meeting strangers I haven't seen in the last 5 years. I walked around saying hi to a few people I could recognize. I knew most of the names- just couldn't match them with their faces. Mercifully, everybody was wearing name tags adorned with a copy of their Senior yearbook picture- a picture of what they USED to look like. Strange as it may seem, when I started to talk to fellow classmates the 40-year span since our high school days seemed to melt away. We are the same people, same mannerisms, same laugh, same smile, the same goofiness. And through it all, we are surviving.
Eventually, the food was brought out to the buffet tables. It looked delicious. Only problem was that I was enjoying the camaraderie with my former classmates so much- there was a lot to catch up on- that I didn't get around to eating much food. Usually at a buffet, I can't get out of my chair until the first trip to the bar is well digested leaving more room in my omentum for a second trip.
After dessert and coffee, we heard a few reflections from that incomparable Master of Ceremonies, Calvin Thomas. Put a microphone in Calvin's hands, and he indeed becomes a Master.
"OK, I have some great prizes here." Calvin holds up a handful of 45 rpm's without saying what tunes they are.
"The first winner will be the one who can tell me one of their favorite memories of being at WJ"
Silence. Everybody is trying to remember back, or maybe they are too shy to speak up first.
Calvin walks up to Mickie C., "All right, Mickey, besides knowing me, what was your favorite memory at WJ?"
Cheers from the crowd. We're loosening up.
I believe Mickie wins a 45 of "Let the Good Times Roll". However, I think Calvin is holding back on the big prizes, such as the "WJ" letter he is waving around. Says he can't part with it. He will sew it back onto his pajamas.
A few recollections later, Calvin introduces a special guest for the evening- our former (notice I didn't say old) High School history teacher- Mister Andy Sonner. After peaking out as a teacher at WJ, Mr. Sonner went down hill and became an attorney for Montgomery County. He is now a judge. And speaking of judges ... little did we know that night, three days after the national election, that the judicial system would be trying to decide who was going to be the next President of the United States.
"Hey, I just remembered one of my memories at WJ", Emmy Lou jumped up and said. (Name changed under the witness protection program).
"Mr Sonner. He was almost as young as we were."
"He always seemed so relaxed in class. He'd swing one leg over the back of his chair"
"He was HOT!"
Well, there were some hoots and hollers after that remark.
From then on, there was no stopping the recollections of our most embarrassing times of adolescent life. Like the time Calvin tried to dunk the ball during basketball practice.
At one point, Calvin played an audio tape of a special, personal message to our class from Pat Boone. Pat graduated from his high school a few years before us, in 1955. He said he dated his girlfriend a year before he kissed her. I tell you, I'm impressed! His message ended with his recording of "Love Letters in the Sand". I know you remember, but just in case, click here (2 min. audio) and start singing.
Incidentally, our Memory Book listed several items that were in the national news in 1960. One was "Birth Control Pill goes on Sale in U.S." Can you believe it? We take so much history for granted.
And, how about this: "Kennedy Elected President by Narrow Margin". I-mag-ine that!
Finally, Renny Temple played a song on his guitar that he wrote for the occasion. It was a flash back to some of the things we all lived through. Some quite humorous; others, more serious. But here, I'll let Renny say it for himself. Thanks, Renny.
The evening ended sort of early for many people. But I remained until the last candle flame was blown out. Not bad for middle aged old man of 50 plus who was too tired a few hours earler.
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