Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Class of 1962

This year, my high school class celebrated its 45th anniversary. We were the class of 1962. We were those babies born just before the boomer generation. Living through the 1960s we saw much. See The 1960s for details.

As someone who lived in “the boonies” I was always mildly envious of the town kids who had all grown up together. They had attended grade school together, played at each other’s homes, gone to the same slumber parties. They all knew each other and they were the in-crowd.

I had transferred into the school in 11th grade. With gusto, I threw myself into activities. I tried out for a sport I had played in Africa—field hockey—but did not make the team. So I redirected my energies—I ran for student council secretary—putting up creative posters. I came close but didn’t get elected.

Redirected again—by now I had joined chorus. So at least I was in something. I didn’t play an instrument you could play in the marching band, so that was out. Then came play tryouts—I made it, cast as the mother (!) in the junior class play.

By the end of my senior year, I had been elected to National Honor Society, was on yearbook staff, and in several special interest clubs. I wasn’t popular but at least I wasn’t a total reject.

Fast forward 45 years to our high school reunion. Over the years, I have kept in touch with no one from high school—until very recently. One of our class, moved by the news that one of our classmates had died several years, and no one in the class knew it, began gathering all our names. She sent out monthly breezy email newsletters. One by one, all of the 127 member of the class were found, except for the 9 who are “lost” and the 8 who have died.

Many people are nostalgic about their high school graduation class. I am no different. Oh I was consumed with curiosity. What would we be like after 45 years?

And now I know. Some people resembled magnificent architecture that has crumbled—you can still see the outlines of the building and know it was a magnificent structure, but it really is a ruin.

Ruined faces
Ruined voices
Ruined dreams
Ruined lives

But there were also people there who had succeeded in ways we would not have thought as high school seniors. We became business owners, we became teachers, we became attorneys, and we became doctors.

Yes, I saw the prom queen at the reunion—she is now a matronly woman. The head cheerleader who was always so pert and perky now looks care-worn. The star athletes, men and women, have aching bones, carry too much weight, have had knee replacements. The dream couple—well, they are still together. And the class bad boys? Well, they straightened up—one, who despised education in high school, had earned a master’s degree; another who claimed to be drunk all through high school now works as Santa Claus in his hometown.

My curiosity has been assuaged. Before the reunion, I was full of wonder—what had we all done, where had we gone. Now I am caught up on news of deaths, divorces, misfortunes. And also news of accomplishment, joys shared.

Will I return in 5 years for the next big reunion? Who knows?


Mary C said...

Donna, how nice to reminisce. Looks like you enjoyed going. Did you have to travel far? My 45th will be coming up in two years. Yes, I'm one of those baby boomers. Like you, I have never bothered to stay in touch - oh, I did for probably the first couple of years. Graduating from an all-girls Catholic high school in Baltimore in 1964 - and now living in California. I did attend my 25th back in '89, but I felt like I hardly knew anyone - quite a distance to go to get reacquainted with old classmates.

Body Soul Spirit said...

I am more interested in keeping up with acquaintances from the past than I used to be. Interesting how we cannot predict the most likely to succeed. Popularity in high school is so often based on looks and athletic ability.

Elaine said...

Your memeories of high school reminded me of my own. When I went to our 25th reunion, a lot of years ago now, I was amazed at the fun I had remembering people who had passed right out of my mind, and catching up on who did what. Reunions are really fun. I'd like to go again.
Thanks for your reminder, kgmom!

Mary said...

Donna, I enjoyed this so much. I often wonder whatever happened to the girls I knew from grades 1-12, how the "elite" group is doing (the ones from rich families that could afford drugs), how the cheerleaders and brainiacs made out. I wonder if the snobs are still snobby and if the trouble makers are still in trouble. And, I wonder what they look like almost 35 years later...

I'm glad you went and shared your feelings about your high school classmates.

Pam said...

I went to three different high schools; I never knew anyone really well and never went to a reunion. But there are some I think of and wonder about. Lovely post.

Rhea said...

That was a wonderful and poetic summary of your experiences at your class reunion. I attended a 15-year reunion a number of years ago (I graduated high school in 1976) and I observed many of the things you did. Kids who were 'failures' succeeded, kids who were great became just OK. Some late bloomers bloomed, others never did.

LostRoses said...

I'm always fascinated by other people's reunions and yours is no exception. Sounds like you had your questions answered and your curiousity satisfied!

Like Pam, I never went to a high school reunion for the same reasons she stated. But if there was a grade school reunion I'd be happy to attend. Problem is, I can only remember about three of those kids from so long ago! Thanks for an interesting post.

LauraO said...

I was the in the Class of '69. I've never been to a reunion - I always thought it might be a little weird. Your post is making me think I might try the next one that rolls around...thanks (I think). I enjoyed reading this.

mon@rch said...

Wow, congrats and I bet you can't wait for your big reunion in 5 years! I am lucky to still see many of my highschool friends around but I know their are many who I dont' see (and would be nice to see again)!

Dorothy said...

So many of your comments hit home with me Donna. I joined my high school in 10th grade, and all of the kids had gone to grade school together. I wasn't going to attend my 40th reunion but I did, mostly due to my husband's urging. And did I ever have a wonderful time! Now I'm looking forward to next year's reunion...45 years! It's so much fun to see how everyone has changed..what their lives have been like since graduation long ago..

RuthieJ said...

Hi Donna,
That was fun reading about your reunion. I've got my 30 year high school reunion coming up this year. How have those years gone by so fast??
I had a small high school class--36 kids and 6 of them have already passed away.
At our 20-year reunion, the only topic we all had in common to talk about was the failing health of our parents! I haven't decided yet if I'll go to this 30-year reunion or not.
P.S. I was a town kid who always wanted to be a country kid because they always seemed to have more things to do--especially in the summer.

Laurie said...

There are some beautiful faces there...and your words are wonderful. Thank you for taking us along.


Cathy said...

Oh Donna - This was wonderful and really got my curiosity going. I wish there had been arrows running from your text to the pictures. Hmmm. . . Who's who ? Hmmmm.

I can't go back to my small town reunions anymore. Too painful. My childhood friend died of breast cancer two years ago. I'm a coward.

KGMom said...

MaryC--I live about 15 miles from where I went to high school, so not a long road trip at all. Memory trip, yes.

Ruth--I think as we age we recall past friends & wonder where they are. True about looks & athletic ability.

Elaine--this reunion was fun, but I am not sure if I want to go again.

Mary--oh, the elite group. Where did they end up? Secretly, I feel I have aged "better" than some in the elite group!

Pam--it is hard when you go to many different schools, remembering who is who.

Rhea--yes, the "failures" do succeed, and the "successes" sometimes fail. What did we know in high school?

LostRoses--hmmm, attend a grade school reunion. That would be harder for me--get back to Africa where I went to grade school!

LauraO--well, for me it was worth attending at least ONE reunion, just for curiousity sake if nothing else.

Mon@rch--I know you are a young'un here, so you will just have to put up with us old folk reminiscing!

Dorothy--interesting that your husband urged you to go. Mine kindly went along for the dinner.

RuthieJ--wow, only 36 in your class, and now down to 30. If you don't go, there will be too few there!

Laurie--glad to "take you along."

Cathy--oh, that is very hard if your childhood friend died. As for who is who, I purposefully did NOT co-locate photos with stories. In fact, some of the photos are of people not written about. Just in case someone from my class stumbles by--don't want to offend anyone.

vicki said...

I loved looking at all of these photographs- so much living in those images. Great post. I studiously avoid high school reunions; I'm not all that social to begin with and I went to school with an odd lot.

God of Small Things sounds like a great read- thanks for that tip, too!

nina said...

Is that first photo of you? (It must be!) I can see the same look in your eyes from when you were a little girl! Isn't funny, how so many things can change over time, yet the person we see looking out, is very recognizable. The eyes are the windows of the soul--'s true!

KGMom said...

Vicki--welcome. Well, I am not all that social either, but I sure was curious about what happened to everyone.

Nina--yup, that's me, red hair & all. You are so right--my eyes were big & blue when I was little, and are one feature I still have.

Climenheise said...

I finally got around to reading this -- you know that: I was busy visiting Dad and Verna Mae and Nevin and Ali and ... you! Now I'm home and could get to your blog. I enjoyed your account of number 45. I enjoyed also going to my 40th. I'll write and think about that elsewhere. One thing that intrigues me is that people 40, 50, and 60 look so much better to me now than they did 40 years ago!