Monday, June 13, 2011

June is for Reunions

On Saturday I went to my high school reunion.  Okay, I’ll admit it – it was the (cough-cough) 50-year reunion.  I know … can’t believe it myself.  How did the time go by so fast??  It was scheduled on the same day that we graduated 50 years ago – June 11.  

I usually prepare and print the reunion booklet, but I had to pass on it this year because of my March back surgery.  I didn’t think I would be up to working on it so soon after surgery.  Thanks to Jim for taking on that task. Here's Jim and me (aka chubby cheeks).
In fact, I worried whether I would make it through the long day of the reunion.  I did, of course – and as usual was among the last to leave! I’m a little disappointed in the photos I took.  I was so busy socializing, and the room was quite dark.  Thank goodness, we had a real photographer there and she’ll eventually make all the photos available to us.  But for the time being here’s some photos.

With it being such a momentous occasion, the committee planned some special events: a tour of the school and a mass in our honor, followed by the celebration. We attended St. Florian grade school and high school, attached to historic St. Florian Catholic Church in tiny Hamtramck, MI. The church celebrated its centennial a few years ago and the schools were established about 90 years ago. 

Some of us were together for all 12 of our school years; a few joined us for high school from other grade schools in the area.  We were a small class so everyone knew everyone else.  When we were growing up, Hamtramck was a predominantly Polish community and many of us were first or second generation Polish-Americans. Hamtramck is now much more internationally and ethnically diverse.  St. Florian schools were closed a few years back and the two buildings are now leased to two charter schools, so the school tour was somewhat bittersweet for us.
How many times did we go up these steps? These are newer doors - the original ones were much more beautiful and ornate.  (That’s our school president, waiting for any latecomers.)

Somehow these halls seemed so much larger and more imposing when we attended ….
A couple of the guys had much better memories than I did, pointing out the different classes where we did our best (or worst) work!   Had to get a shot of this infamous door leading to a class during a year when we were particularly mischievous, causing much grief and aggravation for the nun who taught us.
 The building is certainly showing its age; this is what we called the “old gym” – it wasn’t used for much of anything by the time we reached high school.   It led to an underground tunnel that took us  across the street to a new building  (built in the 1950s, I believe) that housed the new gym, a cafeteria and more classrooms.  

After the school tour, we continued on to the church for the 4:00 p.m.  mass in our honor.

We had reserved seats right up front and the pastor, who wasn’t even born yet when we graduated, was very gracious with beautiful tributes to our class, recounting some memories and laughs. Obviously, someone slipped him some of the “war stories” from our school days! 

Then it was off to the banquet hall for dinner and dancing.  This is us trying to get organized for a group photo first.

 Our photographer managed to corral us long enough for a great photo. 

Then we ate ….

We drank …

we talked ….

One of my best laughs of the night occurred when I saw a group of about 6-8 guys gathered in a circle and having an intense conversation.  I had to pop in to see what they were talking about.  They were comparing their hip and knee replacements!!  Old football injuries, I’m sure!!

I had a great time visiting with everyone, especially those who hadn’t attended any of our previous reunions. 

Of course, we had lots of “period” music: early Motown, “Moments to Remember” by the Four Lads (Junior Prom theme), “Graduation Day” by the Four Freshmen ... Jim promised me the first dance and he delivered.  Thanks, Jim!

I restricted myself to slow dancing, but tried to get in on “The Stroll” for a bit …

I wouldn’t have remembered the steps for the “Electric Slide” even if my back could have handled it …

I had such a great time!  As I was leaving along with the last stragglers while the banquet people vacuumed the floor around us, I couldn’t help wishing a silent goodbye to the 16 classmates who have already died, including one of my best friends from school who passed away just 12 days before the reunion.

It was such a nice but at times bittersweet day, bringing to mind these lyrics:

 There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all.
- In My Life (Lennon/McCartney)

Want to listen to it?  Go here: In My Life

To leave on a funny note, the back cover of our reunion booklet memorialized one of the best pranks ever done by one of our classmates, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty.  This guy snuck into class during the lunch hour and put a nail in a crease in the blackboard.  Fast forward to while we're in class: he arrives fashionably late, and without a word slowly strolls to the front of the class, picks up the chalk, draws a hook on the board, and hangs up his jacket!   Classic.  Just classic!

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