I just returned from my 35th High School Class Reunion from Greenwood, Arkansas. There were 125 in my graduating class. Over 50 graduates and their families gathered for the past couple of days to reminisce and renew old friendships. Here are some of my observations from the weekend.
1. Wow, we all got fat! We were not fat then, but things changed. We were in an era where school kids could choose their own lunches. We could even go off campus and eat lunch at the “Dinner Bell” across the street from the school. We were not fat then, but we are now. Maybe we need more “Dinner Bell” moments in our lives. Best frieto pie ever! Thank you Brown family.
2. We all miss things from the past. I miss my 32 inch waist (see above). Others are missing their hair. We smile and say polite things such as “You look just the same.” Well, except for the hair. And the weight. And the wrinkles. I am proud to say that I still have most of my hair. I keep it in a drawer at home.
3. We were a fun bunch of kids then. We are a fun bunch of middle-aged adults now. I remember high school as a lot of good, clean fun. Most of my classmates were just a bunch of good, clean-cut kids. We spent the entire weekend with this bunch and never heard a cuss word. I never smelled booze. I never saw or smelled tobacco. Good clean living and lots of fun.
4. Marriage is important. I was amazed at the number of people who are still married to their original spouse. There were several couples who had been married over 30 years and counting. They looked and sounded happy.
5. We don’t dance well. The DJ was playing some good music but few people tried to bust-a-move for fear of busting a hip! My wife asked why people were not dancing. I explained that most of the people in the room came from either an Assembly of God, Church of Christ, or Baptist background. We don’t know how! Our Methodist friends led the way.
6. Good food is always better with good company.
7. Things that were funny then, are still funny now.
8. Some people never change. At the start of the evening my wife and i were standing in a corner playing the role of the introvert. “Are you guys just going to stand in the corner all night?” “It is what we do” was my reply.
9. Some people never change and we would not know what to do if they did change. Where would be be without Sandee barking orders at us? It was pure delight to see Sandee take charge and motivate others to help put the reunion together. It was even more delightful to see the rest of us try to ignore our marching orders and the exasperated look on Sandee’s face when we did. You see, that is half the fun. After we finished the tour of the school, we were to meet and set up for the banquet that evening. Sandee told us to go get lunch and meet her at the Pavilion. What she meant was go through the drive through and get something to eat and bring it to the Pavilion and get our butts in gear! What she got was the rest of us having a nice sit down lunch with more humor and story telling. When all of our phones went off at the same time, with Sandee on the other end demanding help, we continued our sit down lunch and we had something else to laugh at now. I guess you had to be there. Sandee is the Lucy Van Pelt of our class! And we love her for it.
10. While there was a collection of beauty queens, star athletes, brianiacs, nerds, cheer leaders, band members and agri -Americans in our class, our shared values and experience hold us together as a class. We did not just share classrooms, but we shared lives. Our experiences were born out in our extra common values. During the tour of the school we were remarking about some of the wild oats that one member of our class had sowed as a teen. Then we spoke of how Cliff gave his heart to Jesus in the 11th grade. He was radically changed. We liked the old Cliff, but we love the new one!
11. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. I think I read that in a fortune cookie somewhere. But it is no less true. Time and distance takes us further away, but our bonds as a class always bring us back. Greenwood High School is a home that goes beyond classrooms and buildings. Etched in the sidewalks around the school are the names of the graduates going back almost 100 years. Likewise, we are etched into each other’s hearts. This was especially played out as we took time to remember those who have died. Out of 125 in the class, we have been fortunate to have only lost 5 over the last 35 years. Glenda Cates, Marty Mickle, Mike Ledbetter, Brenda Parks, and Andy Caperton may be gone, but never forgotten.
12. It was good to see what was then unkind ridicule toward a classmate turn to profound respect as an adult! Way to go class of ’79. We raise the flag of respect toward all who seek nothing for themselves but acceptance and love.
13. Our teachers meant much to us then and even more now. We were blessed to have several of our teachers join us for dinner. They invested their lives in us for decades. They loved, taught, encouraged, disciplined, and guided us in our time at GHS. Some of the finest teachers that I have ever known were at Greenwood. As I type this blog posting, I do so with typing skills that I learned from Mrs. Root and grammar skills that I learned from Mrs. Pike and Mr. Chronister. My love of science was fueled by Mr. Ware. My interest in politics and history was first fostered by Mr. Coan and Mr. Bridges. As a class, we salute you all for what you did for us.
Well, we are going to gather again in October. It is going to be a great time.